By MARYMICHELLE LOTANO
Many years ago, I was sitting in a counselling psychology class when the professor asked, “What is the opposite of love?”
A student yelled out, “Hate.”
He then asked everyone who agreed to raise their hands. It was a small class, so when my hand did not go up, it was noticeable. He turned his attention to me and said, “Ms. Lotano, what do you think the opposite of love is?”
I said, “Indifference.”
He cleared his throat and said, “Ms. Lotano is correct.” The discussion ended.
On that day, I did not know why I knew the answer to the question. I had never read anything on the subject nor had I heard about it from elsewhere. I simply knew the answer. The absence of love is indifference. Inside of indifference we find nothing. It is empty, void and barren. There is no desire inside of indifference. There is no excitement inside of indifference. There is no hope inside of indifference. Indifference is a vast wasteland of bland.
Over the years, the memory of that experience faded into the background of my life, but I never forgot the gravity or the principal behind my statement. Indifference is the great end to any situation. When we are indifferent, nothing changes and nothing grows; there is no forward movement. We simply let go without remorse or regret or sorrow or anger. We move on.
Often, we insist we are ready to leave a situation or a person by telling ourselves that we no longer have the desire for an ongoing connection, yet we leave with an abundance of unresolved feelings. So, this raises the question, “Why do we leave our careers, our families and our relationships with such an intense amount of emotion?”
We walk away from our careers frustrated and undervalued, from family members disappointed and lonely, and relationships angry and in pain. We tell ourselves we are done with all of these engagements, but we are not. Instead, we walk away carrying an excess of baggage because we are still emotionally invested in all of these connections.
We might have been frustrated with our job, but we still wanted to excel at it. We might have been disappointed by our family members, but we still wanted them to embrace and comfort us. We might be angry with our spouse or partner, but we still want them to be committed to us. We are still emotionally invested in all of these beautiful, but difficult, situations. And therein lies love and hope.
Love is the inexplicable composition of all of the major feelings; joy, sorrow, empathy, trust, kindness, anger, compassion and fear. All of these feelings take up residence in all of our connections, be they work, family or relationships. If you love, you will experience all of these emotions inside of every connection you invest in. When you still love your career, you mourn over leaving the place that allows you to express your talents. When you still love your family, you mourn over storming out in anger because what you really want is to be enveloped in their compassion. When you still love the partner you are walking away from, you mourn the loss of not being able to pursue the possibility that they are your true soul connection. When love is alive, it is the perfect storm of emotions.
Inside of this cornucopia of feelings, the window to love stays open. There is always the chance for growth, for change and for forward movement. It might not be easy. It might require self-reflection and compromise. It might demand that you put your ego down and pick up humility. Or, it might insist that you put forth honesty to allow yourself to create from a new foundation.
Regardless of the demands love places on you, remember that if the people you are engaged with are angry with you, or laughing with you, or disappointed in you, be glad. Inside of all of those feeling states, there is love.
Author of Circles of the Soul, Marymichelle Lotano has explored the areas of personal growth, meditation and art. Ms. Lotano is currently a full time writer and mother, residing in Carlsbad, California. Visit: circlesofthesoul.net.