This year, instead of making a resolution I’m choosing a mantra. (The fact that I started a new blog on New Year’s Day is a coincidence, not a resolution. Or so I’m telling myself.)
When I first heard the slogan “Love What Is”, it didn’t land for me.* How can I love the bulging disc in my lower back or the current state of world affairs or waiting 14 minutes for my uber pool to arrive because I’m too cheap to treat myself to an uberX? And more importantly, why would I want to? Loving things that cause me harm isn’t exactly a life goal of mine. In fact, it’s a goal of mine to stop doing that. (I’m looking at you, ex-lovers.)
Then I thought about my cat Princess Buttercup and it started to make sense. (To answer your first question, yes, I call her by her full name. With a name like Princess Buttercup, it would be a shame not to. To answer your second question, no, this isn’t a blog about my cat. At least not entirely.)
I adore this cat. I rescued her from San Francisco Animal Care & Control when she was five years old. The moment they placed her in my hands I was overcome with a wave of love (and panic) that I’d only experienced once before – the first time I held my niece.
PBC is quirky as shit and easy to love. (Ok, fine, you got me. I abbreviate her name in writing. Princess Buttercup might be fun to say but it’s a pain to write.) She only drinks water out of a glass, she naps with her whole face smushed into the bedspread to make it dark, she’s an aggressive snuggler, and she has these fangs that make her look like a vampire when she’s really wired. Plus just look at those fluffy cheeks.
But. She also bites when she’s bored, has peed on three bath mats, and vomited on her new scratcher the first day she got it. Basically, she’s the reason why I can’t have nice things.
Yet somehow none of this changes the way I feel about her. Even when she’s being a jerk, my love for her is unwavering.
Thinking about this I realized two things that made it a lot easier for me to get my head around what it means to love what is.
First, love and like are not synonyms, though we tend to use them interchangeably. I like things that I find pleasant or pleasurable. I love things that I care about deeply. I don’t have to like something in order to love it.
Second, there’s the part and there’s the whole. One trait, one interaction, one event is not the entire being, relationship or experience. A challenging or unpleasant moment doesn’t have to affect my feelings for the bigger picture.
So this is where I finally landed. To love what is means this – when you encounter a difficult situation, internally or externally, does it change your love for life? Does it change your love for yourself? Too often for me the answer is yes. This is my edge. This is my work.
*My inspiration for this post came from In the Presence of the Beloved, a podcast by Vinny Ferraro.