why it can be so hard to love

It can be hard to get to that place where the love flows freely, to all people - without hiding from any kind of person, without hiding from oneself.
One can arrive at a place within oneself where one realises that love was never something to be 'forced' because it is 'the right thing to do'. It is the right thing to do - but the forcing is the false path to love, which is why getting to the place of true love is so tricky. And perhaps why most people never embark on that path, because it is much easier to 'force the right thing' - one will appear to be so benevolent and wonderful. Ah! But was this not the approach of the Inquisition?
I would say that once one enters the societal category of "do-gooders," one quickly enters into situations where everyone is wearing the Emperor's New Clothes.
In fact, if one is in a context where the goal of the context is to work for self-betterment, it usually happens that people grab form, and not essence. Why? It seems people feel saved by their context, and become lazy in their vigilance towards themselves. They forget that self-betterment contains many universal principles, that people outside their context, who have a healthy mind, can exercise with perhaps even more success than they. But, because they are standing in a 'good context', they have no qualms discounting anyone outside their context as being a lesser soul. Similarly, they have no qualms discounting people inside their context at surface value, because they are unable/unwilling to admit the paradoxes of life, some examples of which I gave here.
One of the aspects of human behaviour I find so peculiar is when people jump to judgement. I know I do it, too, but that does not mean I should allow myself to perish by turning a blind eye. To illustrate is the following tale. Once, there was a monk who did nothing but sleep beneath a tree all day. The other monks convinced the abbot to expel him, but that night, an angel came to the abbot saying, "The tree-sleeping monk is the only monk in the whole monastery who does not judge anyone. In this respect, he is the most virtuous monk in the monastery." The abbot did not expel him, after that dream.
Another story, in response to Inquisition-style zeal which many are apt to adopt in their early days, is this: some monks went to visit a distant place in Asia, where they taught the people Our Father. It took them a long time, for the populace did not seem to remember it. As they finally disembarked in their boat across the waves, having accomplished their task, some of the locals ran across the water, asking, all afluster: How does that prayer go again? To which the monks replied, never mind about that prayer, you just pray however you had been before we came.

It is hard to love because it is easier to grab at the appearance of love. People who grab at appearance are dangerous to themselves, because they are the first to speak out in the name of love, but the last to want to suffer for it, so lose it. Pursuing the essence of love, by contrast, means waiting before speaking and taking time to get to know a situation in detail. It means not preaching about others' lives and decisions, or even how a particular job should get done, if one isn't willing to roll up one's sleeves and enter the trenches. To "speak in the name of love" without having walked the extra mile in another man's shoes, means blocking oneself off from real love. That is so sad to write.
It is hard to love because love is work. It means working our way up to the point where we will suffer for someone or something else, but by that time, it doesn't feel so much like a sacrifice because one has felt so much love, it is like an antibiotic. Before that, it is the work and time to get to know something in detail - and sometimes, we choose the wrong things to love, which can mean beginning all over again. Loving means not abandoning the project. Love means hurting sometimes, but knowing that our star is still shining. And then we realise that the mistakes were not there to hurt us, but to help us. Like falling down before learning to walk. Nothing too serious! We learn to take ourselves less seriously, we are freed from having to know all the answers. We are children again.
I am not sure how successfully I am writing about this here, but I have tried. I embarked on this subject this morning because of this C.S. Lewis quote - nb. from a book I have never read - Letters to a Child: "A perfect man would never act from a sense of duty; he'd always want the right thing more than the wrong one. Duty is nto a substitute for love (of God and other people), like a crutch, which is a substitute for a leg. Most of us need the crutch at times; but of course it's idiotic to use the crutch when our own legs (or own loves, tastes, habits, etc) can do the journey on their own!"

Elements: flower embroidery and gingham: pugly pixel; needlework: minitoko;
envelope letters: Animus.

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