Searching for Unconditional Love in a Conditioned World
In past blogposts, I've explored using archetypes in your life to bring about openness and opportunity for growth (Check those posts out here). And there is no archetype that is quite as famous (or that gets as much silver screen time!) as the archetype of Love. The archetype of Love brings up all sorts of images, ideas, and themes. Cupid. Valentine's Day. Parenting. Passions. Sex. Red roses. Love potions. Soul mates. Dating. Conditional. Unconditional.
That last idea, Unconditional, is an archetype all its own, the archetype of Unconditional Love. This archetype may bring to mind an equally diverse set of ideas, ranging from Bible stories to romantic comedies. Ideas of sacrifice. Love conquering all. Random acts of kindness.
In this week's blogpost, we're looking at the archetype of Unconditional Love. But what exactly is the archetype of Unconditional Love? For the purposes of this blogpost, I'm viewing Unconditional Love as the overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude experienced in the face of a family member, a close friend, community, and/or humanity. It's a love that gives and expects nothing in return. It's a love that feels reverent, unbreakable, and divine. It's a love that inspires devotion and awe, taking our breath away in the process. Other words/Archetypes often associated with this archetype include Awe, Wonder, Inspiration, Agape Love, and Gratitude.
Yet, at the end of the day, Unconditional Love is actually a difficult concept to put into words. Why? Because it's a very strong feeling deep within ourselves---a preverbal feeling. It surpasses words.
The easiest way to see this archetype is to look at it through examples. Here's some places you might feel/experience this archetype: ---It's the love/gratitude often felt when an artist/creator steps back and looks at their work.
---It's the love/gratitude often felt when a parent steps back and looks at his/her child.
---It's the love/gratitude often felt when a spectator views the results of an artist that inspires him/her.
---It's the love/gratitude often felt when you see a community come together to help support a broken/sick/struggling member.
---It's the love/gratitude often felt when finding the perfect gift for a loved one.
---It's the love/gratitude often felt when people volunteer to help those in need.
---It's the love/gratitude often felt when feeling connection with the Divine (be it God, gods, Allah, Nature, Universe, etc.).
---It's the love/gratitude often felt when fighting the wave of racism/sexism/xynophobia/homophobia, and instead choosing acceptance, appreciation, brotherhood/sisterhood, togetherness, and commonality.
---It's the love/gratitude often felt when reflecting on life/actions of inspirational figures, such as Muhammed, Mother Theresa, Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln.
---It's the love/gratitude often felt when experiencing the beauty and fullness of life.
---It's the love/gratitude felt when experiencing the beauty of the natural world (such as beautiful canyons, captivating mountain views, majestic waterfalls, etc).
---It's the love/gratitude felt when seeing an underdog rise up against all the odds.
---It's the love/gratitude felt in movies/books when you see someone fight again all odds, sacrifice their well-being for others, or love despite mistakes/faults (Katniss Everdeen honoring the death of Rue in The Hunger Games, Belle loving the beast despite his appearance in Beauty and the Beast, Esther saving her people despite the dangers to her own life in the Bible, the characters continuing to live and love despite crushed homes and broken wishes in Into the Woods).
It is the very essence of inspiration. It sparks creation. It fuels rebellions and gives strength to the weak. It breaks the hardened heart and melts the icy shards of resentment and contempt. It snaps us out of routine in a beautiful, unexpected way.
But why does this archetype matter? Because we live in a conditioned world. We live in a world that forces a concept of give and take (and in some instances, a concept of take and take). We live in a world conditioned by trauma and social norms and rules/restrictions. We live in a world where actions have consequences. Now, let me clarify: this isn't a bad thing. Our conditioned world is necessary. We have to remember that if we place our hand on a hot stove, it will burn. We have to know that taking candy from a stranger isn't always a wise action. We have to have repercussions for our actions. Yet if we live our lives solely focused on these conditions, we will flounder. We will drown. We will become simple automatons in a grand machine of life, grinding through an autopiloted life. We will lack hope, inspiration, and even the most basic love. We will become grizzled by the hardness of the world around us.
But the archetype of Unconditional Love softens that callousness, complacency, and indifference. It gives without expectation of return. It shows us beauty amidst an expected schedule. It spices up life. This is why it matters. By focusing on this archetype, we find hope. We find inspiration. We find love. Gratitude. Awe. Wonder. Creation. Life. Happiness. Joy. So how do you start focusing on this archetype? You find it. You look for it. Search for it. Observe it. Take note of it.
What does it look like? How do you know you found it? It feels like a swelling of gratitude. It feels like you are part of something larger. It feels like inspiration and stirrings of life, deep within your heart. It's warm and fuzzy. It takes your breath away at times. It makes your eyes misty and your soul alive. It makes you feel like you could conquer the world. It makes you feel that your life is complete and whole.
This week, I challenge you to look for and seek out Unconditional Love, bringing it into your life. Read about an inspirational figure. Look for it in books and movies about underdogs and people rising above amidst adversary. Be on the look out for it in your community. Take a moment to just breathe and tap into it while looking at a piece of art/something you created/your child/your pet/your loved one. Just by observing it and feeling it in the world around you, it will change your perspective. It will shift your focus.
Like the quotation from Pollyanna: “When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will.” Conversely, when you look for Unconditional Love, you are sure to discover it. It's there. In movies. In books. In our communities. In our lives.