Maitri, Karuma, Mudita, Upeksha

Translation: “Loving-kindness, Compassion, Joy and Freedom”

According to Buddhism, these are the four aspects of Love.

As a Research Assistant in one of the biggest labs for romantic relationship studies in the nation, I experience, and take on, an interesting- sometimes more objective- approach to love. Though I never cease to be stumped by its incomprehensible magic. I come from a long line of divorce. In fact, I am not directly related to any one individual who has had a successful first marriage. So yes, I’m fascinated with Love’s ability to mend, heal, lift, inspire, create, and fill- but equally intrigued by its ability to drift away sometimes slowly, or occasionally abruptly, and without apparent cause. But no matter the fashion in which it left, it leaves the person different from when it found them.

So then, once it has left, how do we find it again? The peculiar thing is, we don’t want that same love again. And somehow society has placed on us this idea that once we lose love we are somehow less- a void has been created, a hole that we must fill. I disagree. I think, when love leaves us, it escapes like a dust. It wasn’t something that took up space- it was  something that covered us, whose gradient texture we grew accustomed to, and began to like. So when it leaves, that’s just it. It was only ever just a dust. And one can never find that again. So instead perhaps we shouldn’t search for it, nor desire it. It’s possible to assume that when we find ourselves in the right time and place, different dust, with a different texture, will fall upon us. It may not be what we’re used to, it may feel completely different, but there’s comfort in that.

What I find most compelling about these four concepts; loving kindness, understanding, compassion, and freedom, is their selflessness. We are to give out loving kindness, possess compassion, be joyful, and find and award, freedom through it all.

So the dust is abundant. We have enough to give out, we must share it with others, it must make us glad, but just as the inherent tendency of the loose dust; it must never constrict.

Naivety’s Arrogance

After my boyfriend and I broke up I made a promise to myself that I would be single for a year.

Why.

It would seem that post-breakup me had a bit of an ego that thought it necessary to ward off dating in the likely event that suitors from all over presented themselves willingly and pursued me for courtship.

It’s been a year and a half and the closest I’ve gotten to dating someone is staring down the hunk at my gym; who has caught me looking on more than one occasion. The last time he and I were working out together (by “together” I mean at the same time with me using a machine that was near him) I was on the Stair Master and after a few returned glances I decided to smile at him so he knew that I knew that he saw me looking, and also that I’d caught him looking. So I smiled, he looked confused. Then he smiled back, at which point I tripped on my Stair Master.

Boy, I am smooth.

I had good intentions when I set the year of singledom goal. I wanted to be single because I didn’t want any distractions in my way while I searched for myself, and tried improving my career. I also wanted ample time to fully heal and move on from my previous relationship. And look, I know a year and a half isn’t that long, so I really shouldn’t be complaining. I should be out enjoying my singleness, painting the town red, yada yada yada, and it’s not that I want a boyfriend, per se, it’s just that as nice as it is to be single and have the option of going out with different guys and enjoying an array of different company, I prefer monogamy. I enjoy continued conversation with the same person. And I’d like someone who I can have dinner plans with on Saturday, and enjoy brunch and the outdoors with on Sunday. But I guess you could argue awkward encounters at the gym with the same guy counts as consistency.

Now I’ve been thinking, it used to be so unusual for someone to stay single. Now that’s not so strange. And thank god that stigma is gone because people shouldn’t be pressured into traditional lifestyles just because society says so. But that also means that more people who do want marriages and families and relationships are having a harder time finding them. So while it used to be a 1% chance that those who wanted love never found it, nowadays that percentage is closer to 5. I think. Ok at least it feels like it. But now I’ve wasted an entire year of potential love finding all because of my naive arrogance.