Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Art of Loving

For most children before the age from eight and a half to ten, the problem is almost exclusively that of being loved—of being loved for what one is. The child up to this age does not yet love; he responds gratefully, joyfully to being loved. At this point of the child’s development a new factor enters into the picture: that of a new feeling of producing love by one’s own activity. For the first time, the child thinks of giving something to mother (or father), of producing something—a poem, a drawing, or whatever it may be. For the first time in the child’s life the idea of love is transformed from being loved into loving; into creating love. It takes many years from this first beginning to the maturing of love. Eventually the child, who may now be an adolescent, has overcome his egocentricity; the other person is not any more primarily a means of satisfaction of his own needs. The needs of the other person are as important as his own—in fact, they have become more important. To give has become more satisfactory, more joyous, than to receive; to love; more important even than being loved. By loving, he has left the prison cell of aloneness and isolation which was constituted by the state of narcissism and self-oneness. More than that, he feels the potency of producing love by loving—rather than the dependence of receiving by being loved—and for that reason having to be small, helpless, sick—or “good.” Infantile love follows the principle: “I love because I am loved.” Mature love follows the principle: "I am loved because I love.” Immature love says: “I love you because I need you.” Mature love says: “I need you because I love you.” - Erich Fromm

However, the challenge of awakening love from within for most youth transitioning to adulthood continues to loom large from one day to the next. This is because as Fromm states, "Most people see the problem of love primarily as that of being loved, rather than that of loving, of one's capacity to love. Hence the problem to them is how to be loved, how to be lovable. One, which is especially used by men, is to be successful, to be as powerful and rich as the social margin of one's position permits." If you have had a chance to look at the documentaries on the careers of Dr. Dre and Tupac housed here within my 'Video Library', it becomes clear that their early success did not cause them to be more loved or more competent in providing love to others. This just does not occur without establishing the required "awareness," "intention"and "practice."

"Another [path] used especially by women, is to make oneself attractive, by cultivating one's body, dress, etc." Fromm adds, "Other ways of making oneself attractive, used both by men and women, are to develop pleasant manners, interesting conversation, to be helpful, modest, inoffensive. Among the many of the ways to make oneself successful, are "to win friends and influence people." As a matter of fact, what most people in our culture mean by being lovable is essentially a mixture between being popular and having sex appeal." In the end, this simply misses the mark. I will be quick to admit, it is a rather complex undertaking for us to look at "being love." The one thing that I do know and will share with you is that there are no shortcuts to that space, place or grace. You most certainly should expect to encounter some bumps in the road along the way.

Let us go ahead and start with our first step, which is to recognize as Fromm explains, that love is an art just as living is an art; if we want to learn how to love we must proceed in the same way we have to proceed if we want to learn any other art, say music, painting, carpentry, or the art of medicine or engineering.

What are the necessary steps in learning any art?

The process of learning an art form can be divided conveniently into two parts: one, the mastery of the theory; the other, the mastery of the practice." Therefore, we are going to begin our study of this topic right here at the ground level.

Until the next post, remember, be loving to yourself and too your neighbor.

JD