That’s the short answer. Of course, you’re probably wondering what the antecedent to that final, ambiguous “It” is, and the answer is, well, everything.
See if you can find yourself in one, two or all three of these views of love:
From M.Scott Peck, in The Road Less Traveled: Love is: “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”
From Brother David Steindl-Rast, in Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: Love is “the joyful acceptance of” or, stated differently, “a wholehearted ‘yes’ to” belonging.
And from A Course in Miracles: “Love is the absence of fear.”
So whether you’re currently paying attention to personal, familial, local, national and/or global issues, and whether you believe the weather, the economy, the government, the collective unconscious and/or the local cable TV programming is where the essential action of your life is, the question remains: What’s love got to do with it?
Imagine joyfully accepting—saying a wholehearted “yes” to yourself—your body, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, values, behaviors…all of you. And then imagine clearly seeing any emotions, thoughts, beliefs, values and behaviors that are grounded in fear, and exploring that fear in its most subtle, nuanced manifestations, seeing it for what it is and is not, and gradually, when it feels okay to do so, letting it go.
Imagine next that you have the will to, and actually do, act courageously, take some risk—extend yourself so that you may continue to develop, evolve and emerge into an increasingly comprehensive, inclusive and balanced view of the world.
Can you stand it? You feel as though you belong in a larger, deeper, more complex way than ever before. Your past fears are transformed and clarified—perhaps even reduced or eliminated. And you’re willing to commit to doing the work required for an ever-deepening sense of belonging, an ever-clarifying relationship with fear, and an awe-inspiring intention to do what has to be done for your own spiritual growth.*
Now imagine extending this sense of belonging, letting go of fear, and willingness to act courageously beyond yourself, first to the familiar, and then to perceived strangers, competitors, opponents, scoundrels and ne’er-do-wells—not in the sense of agreeing with or endorsing every agenda and worldview, but with the intention and ability to accept it as it is in this moment.
Love is something like that—albeit both infinitely simpler and extraordinarily more complex.
*As I use it here, “spiritual growth” refers to increasing clarity into true identity—who you think you are.