I know, I know. If you were doing a SAT test and they asked you the opposite of love, the correct answer would probably be hate. But that’s surface stuff and I’m here to speak to the down below, usually hidden in the dark stuff. Because that’s who I am: an excavator of the dark. I mine it for it’s gold and treasures which are connection and understanding.
Hate is defined as disliking something or someone intensely anywhere you look it up. Notice that there is a concrete object for the feeling: a something or a someone. Nothing imagined here. Very straight forward. Hate is all surface. It takes more than something that straightforward to bring about the atrocities we see named as hate. Something in the deep dark that few are willing to have a look at.
The opposite of love is fear. Wikipedia defines fear as a negative sensation caused by a real or perceived threat. The real threat is also very straight forward: our child walks into traffic. Our heart stops, our adrenalin rushes, we grab her back to safety. Real fear acts. For perceived threat there is no direct action. We get all the emotion, all of the body reaction stuff running through our veins and nothing to attack or do.
It is the perceived threat that is the opposite of love. We feel our very life threatened but we can’t name by what or why. We pull in, pull back, throw up walls (only we can see), lock the doors (if there are any), shutter the windows (if there are any), watch shadows, listen to sounds we can’t define because we have so castled and moated ourselves that we are disconnected – the lizard brain licks its lips. The stories come, dark and foreboding, of their own accord. What do we do if the cycle is not interrupted? We close down more. And blame it on the noises (people, events, the devil, a god) outside – we are keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe from the noises – from the perceived threat “out there.” Out of our control. Which feeds the anxiety and negative emotion of fear of whatever it is the story says is out there. We barricade more. We are taking in no new information, so our mind – ever inventive – makes up whatever it needs to keep us “safe,” “in here” not “out there.”
It would be so nice if we could all just see love as the way out of the dark. But love’s requirement is vulnerability and openess (and sometimes pain as we crack out of the shell we have built around us). When we are backed into a corner (you know, the one we backed into as we closed down – the one that is there only in the stories the lizard brain is telling) it is hard to believe that there is any way out but fighting to the death anything and everything because anything and everything is threatening our “cozy” security. Cramped, pinched, unable to move, unable to take in new information because we have blocked it out by our belief that we had nothing to do with where we are, we choose this known over the unknown “out there.”
It takes a lot of energy to keep the spirit from doing what it actually came here to do: grow, and spin the unique part of the web of life that only this spirit in this time can spin. It hurts. It hurts a lot more than opening up. Anais Nin captures it thus: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
When you get to the point where you are always afraid someone is going to take what little you have away from you, where you hate more people than you like, when you hate your life – if you can, stop. This is the grace in the dark. The dark has pushed you to your life’s limit and now it is time to find that you can push back. Sometimes this is seen as a break down. What is it the old song says? The cracks are how the light gets in.
It is time to break down/break open because that’s how the light gets in so you can start to see in the dark. No – there is no guarantee there won’t be a rock directly over your head. You may have to grow around it or even through it to find the light. But if you open, and open, and open again, you will expand (sometimes painfully). This is one thing you can trust: if you are expanding and opening and being vulnerable, if you are finding ways to quiet the lizard and his yarns and carving doors and windows (until you figure out that the wall is imaginary), if you are willing to be with whatever lack of security you feel, you can absolutely trust you are moving in the right direction.
Now is when you acknowledge that you built the cocoon, choose to grow, break open that cocoon and discover that you have wings. This is a time of great imperfection – which is a good thing. Imperfection means you have not been here before. It means that instead of building a castle and a moat and spinning beautiful encapsulating silk around your senses you are standing out in the open. If you have been long in the dark, it may take time to adjust your eyes so that you can see. Reach out and ask for guidance and help. That’s okay. If you have been in silence for a long time, everything will seem loud. Relax into the noise and confusion. Reach out and as for guidance and help. that’s okay. If you can’t yet discern love from someone else’s fear, where the someone else is acting helpful in their own interest maybe to your detriment, that too is okay. This is called life and we learn through taking on new things, seeing how and whether they fit. Mistakes, botched intentions, wrong paths are part of growing. It is how we know we are on the right path. Feeling scared and opening anyway is your indication – a great big neon sign – that here is the way.
Fearlessness is not the opposite of fear. Fearlessness is feeling the fright, hearing the noise and confusion, allowing for bad choices and falls and doing it anyways. Fearlessness is actually another name for love. It is here that you embrace the world in all its complexity, accept it as and where you meet it, and break open some more. Because love isn’t static: it grows or dies. Which will you choose?