There was a time when love and money hadn’t met.
There was a time when we were free… or free-er. When people weren’t products, and to enjoy them, you didn’t need your wallet. When the first thought that came to mind to show someone how great and how deep and how true your love goes, was not “What should I get them?” but rather “What will I give them?”
Let’s understand the difference:
GETTING something for someone, implies acquiring an object or experience you don’t own, for which you must exchange an established currency (a.k.a. meaningless paper), which you have obtained in a previous exchange, for your time and effort, which you then pass on to the person you love as a physical symbol of that love. It begins with YOU (you are time) it goes through IT (the work you do with your time), then another IT (the money you get for the work), and yet another IT (the object you get for the money) and finally lands in your loved one’s hands. That’s a lot of intermediaries…
Pros: It’s targeted, useful and efficient. You are supporting the person you love in getting an object or experience they think they need (or actually, truly, desperately, need). It’s kind and honorable of you.
Cons: You’re just a handler, not a creator. You’re an assistant helping out, a link in the chain of temporary satisfaction or fix the person you love will get from acquiring given object or experience. The gift may sometimes be crucial in your loved one’s life, but when it comes to the transaction itself, you are not where the communication originates, but merely, a medium through which the object meets its subject.
GIVING something from what you already have (that is, what you are) implies that the gift is a part of you, and that you will give away that piece of you for no reason, no need, no utility or purpose other than… just because. It’s not necessary, not required, not a must, should, would, could. Like the ultimate essence and point of love — is just IS.
Pros: In restoring the ultimate purpose of love — that of being rather than having — you upgrade it from a commodity to an adventure, from a transaction to a creative conversation between you and your loved one. Instead of a set object or pre-made anything, you are taking back your right to recreate love in your own image. You begin to operate from its dynamic, creative nature, by being a living piece of the puzzle, rather than just the box in which it comes.
Cons: Expect some crazy looks, misunderstandings and discomfort. But remember that nothing that awakens your dormant creativity and kicks your higher self’s mighty ass is, in any way, comfortable. At least not at first. We are creatures of habit, and the habit of consumerism and blood-shot eyes of the status quo are constantly reinforced by the neon lights the Matrix flashes in our face each step of the way.
So every time you want to turn off those lights and jump over the fence of the ordinary, you will at first, experience discomfort or just a little voice in the back of your head, saying, “Nah…what for…they won’t appreciate it anyway…it won’t change anything…I’m tired.”
But what if it does?
F. Scott Fitzgerald just texted me, begging to put the human back in the equation:
And despite all my (always urgent) needs and crises, worries, stress and gratitude for THINGS, it’s this type of love, the one that transcends THINGS — I’d like to get more of, learn more about, and give more often.
Who are we without money? Have we met before?
If you didn’t need anything — money, objects, opportunities, contacts — or whatever else money can get you, how would you show your love? What would your life look like? What would you do with your time? What type of job would you have? What people would you surround yourself with? Let’s journal about this.
The answer to our money problems and not-enoughness certainly doesn’t lie in getting more and more and more imaginary means to a dead end (and sucking our planet dry while we’re at it) but rather in needing less of the junk they say we need — and filling the remaining gap with our neglected and refound humanity, the one that existed long before our lives turned into business.
14th century poet, Hafez, looks at nature for a love teacher:
I know it’s hard to enact a world that doesn’t technically exist (yet) — based on the cruel opposite we have to taste every day almost against our will, but scientifically speaking (and yes, Quantum Physics is science) everything you can imagine exists in some dimension, otherwise how can you even possibly conceive it? Somewhere, somehow, that truth is real.
And maybe it takes a billion of us to re-imagine and enact a new story, over and over, in order to finally bring it into this existence. Isn’t that how we made a mess of things to begin with?
To expand our humanity further into the Being rather than Having, here are five free and totally unnecessary, non-useful, non-efficient, unexpected and 100% human ways to say: I fucking love you! — to the person or people you can’t live without.
1. Turn them into art.
Write a song, a story, a poem, a haiku — even an article — about or inspired by them. If you can draw or paint, draw them, paint them. Give them a place in your art. Turn them into your Muse. This is one of the highest honors you can give to the person you love. If this person also practices some kind of art, he / she will value this gesture more than anything you can possibly get with money.
Your art is the most sacred place you go to, your true country. Taking the person you love with you, and giving them a little house of their own in that country is unforgettable. Among artists, this is the highest form of devotion.
Art never dies. And by capturing the person you love inside that art, you offer them a piece of eternity, reflecting back at them, through your own eyes. You make them iconic and immortal by reminding them of their true infinite nature.
2. Craft something for them.
Build a gift with your hands. Not necessarily to represent them, but to use it in some way, even if just to decorate. This is different from turning them into the object of your art, or from getting them something they need. In this scenario, what matters is that you initiate the communication process — you are the maestro.
Whatever use they end up giving to your craft, the point is that it came from your own hands and it was exclusively designed and created for them by you. It has your fingerprints all over it.
3. Make it more complicated.
Simple is fine for everyday efficiency, but only as long as it’s seduced by the extraordinary. You can’t have one without the other. So orchestrate an event, a surprise, a chain message to deliver your love, something out of the ordinary, at least once a week, or every full moon, or whenever it’s been too long since your last trip to Wonderland.
– Deliver your message by bits and pieces. Let your loved one connect the dots. Have a few different people call the person you love and each of them share one part of your message. You can also do this via email. Just make sure each sentence or word is delivered in the right order and at the right time.
– Create a treasure hunt around the office or the house. The “treasure” can be a “shared cupon” for a wild night, a home cooked dinner, an epic hike, a dance, a camping getaway, the movie you never have time to watch together on the couch with homemade popcorn, a long bath, a massage… or any other you & me activity.
– Act it out. Role playing and storytelling — that is, making up fun stories and acting in them, in public or in private — allows for a deeper interaction to take place, an intimacy that may be limited by your “real” assimilated roles. Role playing also helps you give up your attachment to a certain idea of how things and people ought to be — by freeing you both from the fixed roles you may have each subconsciously adopted.
The point of these “complications” is to restore play. Since it is play that sustains and inspires work. Play is in a long term relationship with imagination. It conspires with the universe by letting in new possibilities — because, after all it’s just play, what can you lose? Work will later make sure to complete what Play has already set in motion. You need to be a child first.
Tom Robbins said it best:
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature. (Still Life with Woodpecker)
4. Cook for them.
You may not realize how much this means and how deep it goes. Food is the most direct, profound, and intimate conversation we have with our own body. We ingest nutrients that literally become a part of us. Nothing requires more trust than the act of eating.
Trusting something enough to swallow it, is the greatest act of self-surrender. Our outside is designed to protect us: our skin is the largest organ in our body and a true warrior; our senses are always alert, and our entire outer self has one eye open all the time. Yet, the inside is so fragile and vulnerable that the smallest unidentified object you let in, can turn your gut world upside down. Your inside trusts that your outside will make the right choices and protect it.
So if eating is the most intimate, vulnerable and trusting act of the body, so is receiving that piece of food from the person you love.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to cook. Any human being can learn the most simple recipe online — and even if it tastes like crap, what matters here is the exchange of aliveness and vulnerability between two subjects. It matters that you tried and somehow, magically, this simple act of trusting and being trusted, often turns your crap into gold. Not always though, so make some salad first, it can’t go wrong.
5. Drop everything and spend quality time with them, ASAP.
With or without a treasure hunt. Make it a priority to give the person or people you love your full presence and undivided attention for at least an hour every day. You think it’s easy? Unless you’re high on dopamine (a feel-good addictive substance released by the brain especially in the early stages of being in love), spending quality time with the person you love is one of the most challenging aspects of a relationship, especially if you’re like the 99% of humans: BUSY. It almost makes you wonder why you are in a relationship to begin with.
Maybe it’s because in addition to being hard it’s also one of the few phenomenons you deem life changing and worth fighting for. As one of my favorite humans who ever wrote on Earth, Rainer Maria Rilke put it,
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.
And yet another touché:
I once read about a couple — wish I remembered where — whose marriage was on its way out the door. Not knowing exactly what the issues were — as the “issues” are often too deep to identify on a first try and love doesn’t always follow our narrow-minded defensive math — they did the one thing they knew and could: spend an hour together every day, with no other interruptions (no phone calls, texting, email, work, distractions), look each other in the eyes and discuss whatever came up. They chose lunch, so they could eat at the same time and went on to spend the next year having lunch with each other.
In just one hour of undivided attention a day, their deepest issues came to surface, their wounds were exposed, their misunderstandings left out in the open, and healing began. Slowly, they were able to restore the deep communication that had brought them together in the first place and fall in love with each other again.
“You can’t solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it,” said Einstein in a mantra I’ve memorized to the bone. And you can’t get out of a communication downward spiral with someone you love by communicating even less. It’s the beginning of death.
So what do women want? What do men want?
It’s simple, they want YOU.
Just you, without life-sucking intermediaries. And your ultimate question, when trying to figure out How to Love Him / Her / Them should be, How can I offer them My Truest Self and How can I receive their Truest Self in return, so that we can enjoy each other? It’s that simple. And that hard.
Love is the most ancient, sacred and sublime communication process. It begins with a subject, it delivers a message that passes through a medium and it is then received by another subject. So the purpose of love is not the medium through which it passes, and ultimately, not even the message.
It’s the subjects that are sending and receiving the message, who create the love. And all they want deep down is to enjoy each other. Everything else is secondary, as long as the two (or more) subjects are communicating.
Likewise, let me know in the comments if you have any other money-less love suggestions.
Point of the Matter: Let’s experiment with love. Let’s not objectify it or put it back to sleep. It’s too expensive to turn it into an object, too epic not to fight for it, and too enjoyable to let it burn us. Let’s be its accomplices and the ones that carry out its revolution in our skin.