Bird Cage - part 2 - How to Keep Love Alive?

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Below is the second part of "Bird Cage", to read the first part - a story of two birds falling in love, click here

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“Of all the ways we have found to hurt ourselves, the worst has been through love. We are always suffering because of someone who doesn’t love us, or someone who has left us, or someone who won’t leave us. If we are alone, it is because no one wants us; if we are married, we transform the marriage into slavery.”

(Paulo Coelho – The Pilgrimage)

Someone said “God was bored so one day he invented love”. I liked to imagine that he did so with a bag full of paradoxes.

When we are in love, we need to be able to reconcile two fundamental but opposite needs: the need for security, connection, familiarity and the equally big need for adventure, separateness, novelty - for air - and it is the air that keeps the fire alive. (Esther Perel)

I think this explains why we fall in and then fall out of love. What nurtures love – closeness, care, protection, predictability, certainty - is also what make love suffocate. What a deceptive game! It is the natural need for closeness that drives us to stop being the person that fell in love, and who made our partners fall in love with in the first place. The next thing we know is that love starts clutching its little throat.

A good question to ponder is “what is the source of love?” From where does love radiate? Most often, love is seen as something that is given to us from an external body. Someone appears in our life out of nowhere, and we fell for that person. Most of the time, sitting alone on a rock all day doesn’t make us fall in love. Because of that very belief: love is from an external source, like the fire burning in the fire place. We start spending time to take care of the fire place, hoping that fire will burn stronger.

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But it couldn’t be further from the truth. Dr. Stephen Covey said something that moved me deeply: “Love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is the fruit of love the verb or our loving actions. So love her. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Empathize. Appreciate. Affirm her.”

So love actually must come from and out of us. We are the source.

This belief is echoed by expert Esther Perel in her eccentric talk. She affirmed that when our sense of meaning and self-worth deprive, we lost the ability to give love or receive love.

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“Does he love me?” “You are asking the wrong question. What you need to know is, are you in the position to give him the love he needs. And whatever happens or doesn’t happen will be equally gratifying. Knowing that you are capable of love is enough. If it isn’t him it will be someone else.”

(Paulo Coelho – The Witch of Portobello)

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More important than saying “I am in love” is to be able to say “Love is in me”.

When we follow our dreams, we are radiant with joy, meaning and purpose – we are capable of loving.

On the other hand, the journeys we must travel, perhaps separately at times, to reach our dreams, will make us come back home slightly changed. There lies a sense of novelty - someone you thought you knew so well again become somewhat mysterious, somewhat out of touch. Then love can be reborn.

“Distance makes the heart grow fonder. “  It is the very suffering in distance and nostalgia that give oxygen to love.

It is not easy, there are journeys and changes that drive couples apart, when the connection, the closeness, the security are too long absent. So there is no magic formula, no chubby fairy sprinkling fairy dust on us, ensuring we will live happily ever after, loving each other, pursuing our dreams and raising five babies.

Still, we must allow ourselves to plunge into the unknown called love. Because “If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” (Saint Paul)

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Rapha and I first met and fell in love in Autumn 2012 at an international youth congress in Moscow. We have lived in different countries ever since. Sometimes I have a fear that the adventures we chose might make us grow apart. But I’m more afraid to lose myself and drive him to lose his. Birds like us must fly free.

So whenever the day got gloomy, I would think of one time when I picked up the call from Rapha and heard him singing:

“And when you're needing your space To do some navigating I'll be here patiently waiting To see what you find

'Cause even the stars they burn Some even fall to the earth We've got a lot to learn God knows we're worth it No, I won't give up

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Photo Credit: ajari