Jean Shields Fleming
Drop the L Bomb
Love is a force, not a feeling. So go ahead. Drop the love bomb.
The other day I was annoyed at someone. I barely remember who, or what they did that irked me. Yet, for a moment, this feeling swirled up and blew toward me like a toxic wind. I remembered speculation about this person’s past, and how recently, they were unkind to someone, and and and. There was a kind of glee in the malice. Feeling annoyed can be a distinct kind of pleasure, like eating cotton candy. Sure, it’s literally just spun sugar and it will cause tooth decay – but it sure feels like a treat.
I don’t say this with pride. My capacity for pettiness embarrasses me. It is humbling to come face to face with how cramped my worldview can be, especially when I feel hungry, hot, bored or anxious. It’s what happened next that I want to share.
As the toxic wind drew nearer, I smelled the stench of death it carried and wanted no part of it. But by now it had gathered some force. What’s a girl to do?
Years of Buddhist meditation came to my rescue.
There is a practice called Metta – usually translated as “loving kindness.” The instruction is to choose an object of meditation (a person, a situation, the world) and wish it well. Simple, right? Yes and no. The specific wishes are these:
be healthy and strong.
be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
know happiness and the causes of happiness.
be at peace, at ease.
There are many variations on this mantra, but this covers the basic territory. You can do this for yourself, or for someone who’s easy to wish good things on, like a child or a beloved pet. As you build you well-wishing muscle, you can try it on more challenging situations or personalities. A jerk in traffic. Someone you love who is suffering. A world gone mad. The person on the other end of a powerplay at work. A politician.
What I did in the moment with my irritating person was to take this core set of blessings and go crazy with it. I dropped a love bomb on them.
May you be not only happy, but continuously ecstatic.
May you win the lottery and do incredible good with the windfall.
May you find a lover who regularly curls your toes.
May you look in the mirror and adore everything you see.
May delight meet you at every turn.
May long lost friends suddenly turn up.
May animals snuggle with you and children choose you as their favorite grown-up.
On and on it went, as far as my imagination could run. I had a blast thinking of new and even better things to lavish on this unsuspecting person. By the time I’d finished dropping this love bomb, my irritation had dissolved into joy.
Here's the good part. We all have the power to drop love bombs. That is, to bless one another.
Blessing is not reserved for priests or priestesses. It can happen any time, not just on a holiday. No wafer or wine are required. And no one is off limits. Lately, I’ve encountered people who, despite appearing to have it all together, are sad and struggling. I see a world that is on fire, where the permafrost is melting, where rhetoric’s evil twin, demagoguery, is on the ascent. So into the breach I go, armed with kind words.
Thin armor you say? I disagree. It’s the strongest stuff. Unstoppable.
In a divided world, where hate is a business plan, simply wising good on one another is a revolutionary act of solidarity. Apply liberally, even to the people who annoy you. Maybe especially them, as they can help you find the radiant jewel at the center of your heart, full of light, always shining.
Love is a force, not a feeling. Unleash it, and watch what happens.
One key point: don’t forget to drop the love bomb on yourself. You may discover this is harder than it sounds, but do it anyway.
May you take joy in your daily accomplishments. May your houseplants thrive and all your bills be paid, no sweat. May your unique gifts be cherished and put to good use. May your jeans fit perfectly. May your neighbor’s dog find peace and cease barking through the night. May you smile just before falling into the sweetest sleep.
Your turn. What would you add to the list?
Jean Shields Fleming is the editor and founder of Certain Age. She's been meditating a long, long time but is far from enlightened. Photos by the author.