How to love

It took me a long time to make any sense at all of what happens when something is inspired in me. It may be that this is blindingly obvious to everyone else, but having never seen anyone else talking about it, I suspect not.

For me, there’s not much difference between falling in love and being inspired – each tends to cause the other anyway. When I’m not knotted up with fear, I love fairly easily and with an open heart. I’ve learned not to show this, having discovered, and tested the discovery repeatedly, that this is not something most people want to have to deal with. Just occasionally I find someone for whom my open hearted inspired response does not seem threatening or troublesome. I’m exceeding blessed in a husband who delights in how I am – and does not require that to be entirely focused on him.

The experience of love/inspiration for me is one of intense emotion and richness. I feel at my most whole, my most present and alive when really caught up in this. As a creative person, I depend on that rush of inspiration, and am lost without it. For a long time, I saw all of that emotional response as belonging to the person who caused it. They were the muse, and quite often the unobtainable beloved so popular with angsty poets… I experienced it as being because of the other person, which meant that without their blessing, permission, response… that vital flow of inspiration could be lost.

Half a dozen years ago or so, it finally dawned on me that what I feel is fundamentally mine. It usually is inspired by something or someone external to me, but the flow, the capacity, the intensity and everything I can do with all of that, is mine. It’s not conditional on what the object of my love, the source of my inspiration does in response to me. Obviously it’s nice to find my intensity is acceptable, but in some ways it doesn’t matter at all if it isn’t.

From this recognition I was able to make some big changes in my relationship with reality. In the past three or so years, I’ve become more able to love landscape, and skies. It took me a while to learn how to do it and how to be comfortable with it, resulting in an epic and sustained love affair with the landscape around Stroud. I can love other people’s creativity, and not find that problematic any more. In seeing this as something intrinsic to me, not coming to me from outside, I think I’ve also become better at hiding it, which probably makes me easier to be around. There will be an ongoing process of finding out who doesn’t need me to hide.

Love and inspiration are intense, consuming experiences. When it seems that both are due to something external, it’s easy to feel powerless in face of them. I’ve found this holds true for all aspects of passion and desire. Hate functions in the same way – it seems to be about what’s on the outside, but the force of the feeling comes from within, the shape of it fundamentally belongs to the person experiencing it, not to the outside presence sparking it. This is why it’s not a valid excuse to say ‘he made me angry’ or ‘he made me want him’ when explaining violent behaviour – and all too often this is exactly what happens.

If we want, if we hate, if we feel fear or love or anything else, that’s on the inside. In owning that, all kinds of other things become possible. It’s certainly changed my relationship with my own emotions. It gives me more space to own how I’m feeling and to recognise it as my own, but also to separate it off from external reality. Just because I love does not mean the other person is doing something that entitles me to expect anything. Just because I am enraged does not mean the other person has done something to truly justify that. This is not a mindfulness approach to emotion, I’m not trying to see the emotion as some transient thing to hold lightly and let go of – the effect is the opposite  – of bringing my emotional responses more deeply into my sense of self. What it gives me is full ownership, and full responsibility.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

5 responses to “How to love

  • alainafae

    The synchronicity for me of this post is almost eerie. Just last night I was having a conversation with a friend about having him do a workshop series in the office suite that I’m newly renting, and what he described sounds very similar in nature to what you have written about in this post. Many people will recognize the more popular term for it: Active Listening. But he said it goes deeper than most people understand in the sense that the whole point is to fully experience, learn, and take ownership of YOUR emotions first and foremost, which seems to be exactly the conclusion that you had come to as well. I am so grateful for people like you and my friend who can and do share these sorts of wisdom, thank you ❤

  • inanna

    in the tantrik yoga traditions (absolutely nothing to do with sex!), or at least in my understanding – we are not separate from love. consciousness is love is raw creativity is flow is Nature.

    i had a love affair with eastern and esoteric philosophy from a very young age, as they seemed closer to truth than anything i saw embodied around me, or was taught at school. i steadily moved away from all of this for many reasons (including a suspicion that a lot of it was escape and had some roots in cultural appropriation – the exotic other), but in recent years, having done a lot of inner work that following a doctrine, no matter how wise and kindly, didn’t seem to allow me to fully explore, i’m finding my way back. (always feels nice to find i’m coming full circle.) and this time, just as you describe here, much of what i’m reading and exploring seems to be already part of my personal history. i think that druidry and tantra complement each other very well. i am far from an expert on either, and i am wary of that ego-driven cherrypicking that constitutes much of modern religious/spiritual exploration, but still…more paths to meander, if you feel so drawn.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    With me inspiration is something that excites me, that makes me want to jump in and do something. Yes it can be a wild passion. I would hate to not have any. Much I have learned has been based on just those things that I have had a passionate curiousity about and that has directed me to learn still more about something, such as my life long interest in Railroad history. It was not as cut and dried as the history that I was learning in school. It had bad side as well as good sides, many failures and scandals as well as successes. It had many oddities that were left out of my school history text books. I found it fascinating and that led to other areas of history and other odd facts not mentioned. I just followed each subject wherever my curiousity led. I found such learning fascinating and interesting instead of hard work. So in my case curiousity was always the beginning of my inspiration.

  • Elen Sentier

    Ownership of one’s self works 😊

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