The Failure to Love & What We Can Do About It

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On Friday night I had the honor of opening the 14th season for the Jung Society of Utah with a talk called Half a Shade Braver (title inspired by a line from poet David Whyte.) As soon as I received the invitation to speak, inspiration started bubbling up and I wrote more than I could share in person. While I’m excited to pour it  into my book, today, I’d love to share a short snippet of my thoughts with you. Since I read this posthumously-published book, I haven’t been able to stop reflecting on this passage from Barry Lopez:
Evidence of the failure to love is everywhere around us. To contemplate what it is to love today brings us up against reefs of darkness and walls of despair. If we are to manage the havoc – ocean acidification, corporate malfeasance and government corruption, endless war – we have to reimagine what it means to live lives that matter, or we will only continue to push on with the unwarranted hope that things will work out. We need to step into a deeper conversation about enchantment and agape, and to actively explore a greater capacity to love other humans.
 The old ideas – the crushing immorality of maintaining the nation-state, the life-destroying belief that to care for others is to be weak and that to be generous is to be foolish – can have no future with us. It is more important now to be in love than to be in power. It is more important to bring E.O. Wilson’s biophilia into our daily conversation than it is to remain compliant in a time of extinction, ethnic cleansing, and rising seas. It is more important to live for the possibilities that lie ahead than to die in despair over what has been lost.
Only an ignoramus can imagine now that pollinating insects, migratory birds, and pelagic fish can depart our company and that we will survive because we know how to make tools. Only the misled can insist that heaven awaits the righteous while they watch the fires on earth consume the only heaven we have ever known…
In this troubling moment… is it still possible to face the gathering darkness and say to the physical Earth, and to all its creatures including ourselves, fiercely and without embarrassment, I LOVE YOU, and to embrace fearlessly the burning world?”
I hope you feel the same answer welling up in your heart as I do when I read these words:
It absolutely is!
Let’s do it.
It’s true, evidence of the failure to love IS all around us. I see it in the drying Great Salt Lake, in immigrants and refugees treated with disdain, in polluted air and water, in inequities of so many kinds, in habitat destruction, unsustainable food systems, in the way social media has cast its spell of utter disdain toward differences, in a world with a few billionaires and billions in poverty. Where do you see it? The list is long.
And yet the good news is that we can do something about it and we don’t even have to agree on what to do. I adore the simplicity of this summary: What we can do is love more, more bravely, more generously, more widely, more intentionally, more wholeheartedly, in our own unique ways and our own unique places.  Isn’t that what every single wisdom tradition worth its salt is inviting us to do? Rumi said “What you love is the cure.” The cure is good for our souls and good for the world. Love more. In wider and wider circles. Love other humans more. Love the more-than-human world more. Love yourself, your quirks, your suffering, your unique genius, your irreplaceable life – more. We can love more through how we move our bodies with more presence and less aggression. We can love more in how we speak to each other or how we post online. In how we offer praises to the world around us, in reducing our consumption and our habit of taking it all for granted. We can love the sun, the leaves, the life-giving waters, the miraculous birds not yet extinct even more. LOVE, my friends. We can totally do that. And it might even be, along with being bittersweet and griefy (because all love is that), wonder-full.
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By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.