Love Shall Set You Free

There is too much conformity. The slightest bulges for a sense of belonging and we give in. It feels good to be a part of a community, we are social beings after all. But where does this conformity lead us, or how do we lead ourselves up to it? Sometimes vague and usually stupid, our ways are ill-defined by our pious but naive attempts to call it home.

Love is a state of being. It is not an act or a deliberate way of learning, it is a language. It is beyond human understanding of stigmas and notions. The authoritative need to realign the ways of the universe and give them a human dictation is uncanny, yet no one is to blame. Perhaps this is the human condition.

Valentine’s and the air around it has got me thinking. I need to write, at least to reaffirm my beliefs. Because it is too easy to give up. Lately, I have been noticing that social media is turning me imbecile. I talk in memes and my vocabulary is a direct derivative of the non-sensical collaboration of modern humans. This is an attempt to set myself free and re-discover a soul.

The difference between romantic love, true love, love for nature, pets, for the family is all a mere distraction. Mostly, it is a dirty attempt to sell a thing. Did you get your lover a teddy this week? Or chocolates? What did you get your mother for Mother’s Day?

The justification, regardless of inconsistencies, is a need, a reason to love, another futile excuse to show it; a vulgar display of affection. However, it is redundant. When you are truly in a state of love, every day, each moment is enough. You never needed such traditions and cultures to justify this act.

What does it mean to be in love? What does being in love mean? Am I in love?

The parks in India start astute and clean but turn disgusting with human affairs. The attempts at landscaping and greenery are truly naive. Cannot blame anyone, we are too young to understand aesthetics, let alone talk about it. Once upon a time, walking through such a dirty, littered park, I had to stop and look at an Eucalyptus tree. I remember it clearly, as today’s breakfast. While talking to a love interest, I was asked to describe what love meant to me. I looked in front of me and there stood the grand, thick Eucalyptus – one that I had passed a million times during my walks. I had acknowledged its presence but never really stopped to greet it.

Every being is created equally. We are not superior to grass, it is just a delusion we carry in our hearts. Everything, everyone is equal – the dogs, the rats, cats and birds, flowers and leaves, snakes and dirty little pests.

I look at this tree. It must have been there for at least a century. At the same spot, still, a witness to all we did to its brothers and the forest. The presence grew intimidating as if I was meeting Gandalf the White. I grew thinner and weaker, but it felt safe and strong with my friend now. I built up the courage to touch it with my bare palms and dared to close my eyes to try to feel it.

Tolle, Krishnamurti, Rumi, and the lot suddenly made a lot more sense. I could feel its presence, its individuality. From the roots to the grand length of its height, for a brief moment, I became the tree, and it was enough. It felt like an eternity. Still connected through the phone to the other person, it dawned on me. I finally understood love.

For starters there was nothing to understand as if it had always been there, like the air, like my throbbing heart, the blood in my veins, it felt as real as the river, as reality. Love was no longer a condition. No longer an act, no longer a tradition or a ritual. It became the default state of being. It has been there since the beginning of time and will exist even after everything is dust and gas and stars. Love is the fabric that holds everything together. From the germinating seed to the blossoming flower, to bees mumbling around for nectar, and to rivers casting their way, to mountains and mountain winds, to snow and everything fine, gritty, and grain, love is the glue that holds it all together.

There is no romantic love or real love or true love, these are just our frugal attempts to make sense of the world around us and feel sane. A fallacy, fiction, a lie. I thought I would fall in love, but at that moment, I became love itself.

When all the labels come off, the conditions erased, of relations and acquaintances, of friends and strangers, of beings and creatures, of bats and flowers, when everything is deducted down to oneness, it is love.

Valentine’s feels stupid to me. I can see clearly how it is an attempt to commercialize this true feeling into a capitalist rut to sell stuff. Stuff that will end up on a river bed one day, plastic that shall erode the guts of all living and dead, and money that shall fade into oblivion. But I am pushing it a little too far I think. One cannot detach this much from this communal fiction all in the name of re-aligning with the real things. Maybe I am wrong, who knows what is wrong and what is right? Perhaps I need a halt. I need to stop this alluring way of detachment. Perhaps, I need to give it a meaning. However vague and false, it is critical right now. Otherwise, I shall be rendered insane, a nonperforming asset. I will not participate in the social rituals of marriage and functions and retirements and fundraisers and events and experiences. A nobody, I shall be cast under the rug until I rot, rust, and disappear.

It is a war now, but love has set me free. The existentialist dread has become a superpower all of a sudden. Should I give it a meaning, for the sake of the false sanctity? Let me attempt. Forgive my noble attempt hereafter. It is neither noble nor wretched. It is a man in the middle of a battle, one that he shall lose regardless of the outcome. Yet losing would set him free.

I give love only one prerequisite –

No expectations, nothing, null, void! Zero. The other being is free. It is their inherent truth to explore and discover their ways. You cannot expect the other person to buy you flowers, take you out for dinner, make you food, or caress you in bed. The other being is free, and having expectations of any sort is a distortion. Even if they end up sleeping with someone else, you cannot blame them. Love is freedom and you should set them free.

Love is like a butterfly—chase it and it will fly away. Be still and be you and it will come and rest upon your skin where it feels safe and welcome.

Toni Sorenson

Love is stillness.

If you have ever experienced a meditative state of being, you must have realized that meditation is about stillness. It is the absolute act of letting go and surrender. Love is a meditation. It is an act to surrender the ego, murder the identity, and become a ubiquitous part of the universe. Love is that stillness that imbibes in you this non-authoritative act of being.

Love is tender.

Flowers are tender, the baby birds are gentle, and a drizzle is a caressing act of healing. Breathing and the uncontrollable hinge to exist is tenderness in its essence. Love ensues tenderness. The way you talk, the way you act, the way you listen, the way you are, regardless of person, place, or thing, when you know love, tenderness establishes itself as a default, a natural state of existence.

Love is unconditional.

Much of humanity is fiction. All the laws and ways of being were derived out of a necessity to root out totalitarianism and embody communal nourishment. To think of it, it was written nowhere, but fabricated out of the sudden human approach to thought and cognition. Love doesn’t care. It is beyond our meager human trivialities. Even if it kills you, love doesn’t adhere to romance or the superlative texts of films and songs. It is our adulterated (by social norms or tradition) values of existence.

Love is freedom.

If done correctly, well even when I am unsure, love can set you free. Love holds the potential to wake you up from this deep slumber of human lethargy into a novel awakening of absolute awareness. Commitments and hence frugalities are again human innuendos of turning chaos into calm. While love although holding a resemblance to monogamy and sacrificial acts, is not the wholeness one observes under the microscope. Even in commitments and fascist subtexts, love still sets you free. It is only that it redefines freedom not as an act of physical liberation, but as a mental prosecution of the barriers themselves.

I wish you all a very happy Valentine’s Day. Ironic to give in to this social ritual but I hope we remember that love transcends mothers and lovers and pets and friends, and is truly a state of absolute freedom. Go out, take a look at a tree, a flower, or a bird, or dip your toes in the river and let them show you how to love.

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Pictures by Saby Singh
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Chandroti Gaon, Dehradun, February 2024.


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