Taylor Swift, Real Love and One Billion RisingI'm a bit embarrassed to admit as a 43-year-old woman that I have been listening to Taylor Swift's new album, Red, for some weeks now. This is not an album review, so you won't get my breakdown of which songs are genius and which songs she's masking her true voice for the audience she used to have versus which songs are taking her into very real and new authentic ground. You can figure that out for yourself. But this is an essay about love. Taylor gets a lot of bad press because of her many failed relationships, but I don't think there's anything wrong with being young and in love--even if it's always with the wrong person--because that's essentially the story of my life. Some of the songs remind me so much of my own turmoil and emotion at that age that for a while there I was living those years all over again in my head (not recommended at my age!).
When I think back to those years I don't only remember the heartache. There were also some good times, some real intimacy and some beautiful moments; but that's the thing, they were just moments. And love isn't love unless it's forever. It has no beginning or end. It's timeless. And what I called love back then, well, it was by definition conditional, fleeting and consumed by need, jealousy and demands. These aren't the words one thinks of when considering love, but in our cultural notions of romantic love, they are almost always the hallmarks.
The love I dwell in now is so foreign to those notions, they aren't even remotely related; and yet we call it the same thing, love. It's normal, then, for there to be confusion about it all. Yet if we relate clearly and directly to love as an infinite flow, outside of time, then all these romantic ideals seem petty and small, which they are. When I gaze at my lover's face, I see the man, my husband, but I also see the Beloved, I see God in the light of his eyes, the quiet in his manner, and the steadiness in his projection. I see his patient, unflenching gaze and I sometimes want to turn away; but if I can stay still and simply receive it, I am the better for it. Because that is the gaze of the Beloved, the one who doesn't turn away, the one who is fearless in the face of all our insecurities, neuroses and self-loathing. The one who patiently declares our beauty and radiance--in every moment.
I don't know that Taylor Swift or all the other young women out there will have the blessing of dwelling in this kind of love, this living mirror of the infinite constantly reflecting the Self back onto the self, this simple delight in loving the other because they are of God. But that is my prayer, that on this day of One Billion Rising, all the women around the world will come to know this love, real love. And that love, real love, may be a healing for themselves, their families and the world.
"Life is a flow of love, only your participation is requested." --Yogi Bhajan