The heart is an organ of fire. A beautiful line from a beautiful book by Michael Ondaatje. And speaks to the (most often) inconvenience of love (as does the story from which it comes The English Patient). Love is neither convenient, nor is it predictable – or always fair, but it is a gift. Quite possibly one of the greatest gifts in life…to experience, to give, to receive, to nurture and nourish. Love is a powerful force and many feel, is the purpose of life and our reason for being. Love is the common thread and theme in all of our stories. It’s the plot. It’s one of the main characters.

The ‘inconvenient truth’ about love however, is that it hits us when it’s going to hit us, often at the least opportune time and sometimes with no rhyme or reason. Love has a mind (and heart) of its own, but in saying all of this, it shouldn’t be feared, but embraced. Love is a journey – part of all of our journeys. It is a great teacher, teaching us about ourselves and about others. We learn the depth of our emotions and capacity for other emotions like empathy and kindness.

The most important kind of love is love for oneself. Without this, how can we expect to truly be able to love another? Discovering who you are, who you want to be, and loving the person inside brings about an energy that will attract love to you. Love is the foundation for everything else. Love is about loving the imperfections…in ourselves and in others. It’s about accepting people for who they are and loving them without prejudice.

Love builds over time, and evolves as we evolve. To truly love and be able to love completely, you must trust; trust in yourself and trust in the other person. When there is trust, two people can grow together and not fear that their paths will diverge as they (and the relationship) evolves.

A good friend once said to me when I was going through a hard time in a relationship, “you want a man who will swim through shark-infested waters to bring you a coffee.” As unrealistic as this sounds, this statement forever changed how I felt about relationships, because love is unrealistic, isn’t it? Yet still, we surrender. Because what else can we do? We have to make a choice to love…and be open to love. As Neil Young once sang “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”, and as much as it can hurt, it is also the biggest blessing and there is no other high like it. Even when love fades and ends, we are all left with the gift of learning from the experience. And how can that ever be a bad thing – to constantly be growing and evolving and becoming a better person?

So, love lessons.

It’s all about the moments – even the tiny ones that appear insignificant, thread through into the bigger moments, and create the most beautiful tapestry. Enjoy them all. Revel in the beauty that loves drapes onto your life. Don’t fear it.

Don’t try and micro-manage the heart (or your relationship) like you would your employees or professional relationships. The heart is many shades of grey, not black and white like the head. Trust yourself to fall, and fall completely.

And perhaps the most important lesson of all: don’t be afraid to be the one who loves the most. You can’t help how you feel, or how deeply you feel. And you can’t audit someone else’s feeling or temper yours to match theirs. Be free, be loving, give all of yourself. Holding back on love only hurts you. Feel it all. Feel it BIG.

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