Author and creativity expert, Julia Cameron, said,

The face of love is variable. I am able to love without demanding that my relationships assume the structures and forms I might choose for them. My love is fluid, flexible, committed, creative. My love allows people and events to unfold as they need. My love is not controlling. It does not dictate or demand. My love allows those I love the freedom to assume the forms most true to them. I release all those I love from my preconceptions of their path. I allow them the dignity of self-definition while I offer them a constant love that is every variable in shape.

Love has many manifestations, and it’s always evolving and growing. The ways you express love change and the places where you find love also grow and expand. Photographer Rick Ruggles has photographed thousands of love hearts that he found in natural settings, whether in a puddle, a cloud or a piece of rusty metal. In our home, we have a beautiful Ruggles poster above our kitchen table with the words “Love is where you find it.” It’s a constant reminder to find love wherever you are. If you build a world of inner love, you are always in love’s company. We hoped to teach this to our kids. As it turned out, they already knew.

One day one of our kids was feeling a little hard done by, having a mini tantrum and blurted out, “Love is NOT where you find it.” It was perfect. We had to hold back our giggles. But she was right. This was another manifestation of love, authentic love, honest expression.

Whenever I see random heart shapes now I think of the wisdom of my kids, the truth of authentic love. Instead of getting the giggles, I get the ruggles, the reminder that love is real and everywhere and always changing shape.

As you can imagine this was no laughing matter to my daughter. It was a raw expression of being misunderstood and after saying the words, she composed herself quickly. Within minutes she was skipping around the house. All was forgiven. She did not get her way, but learnt that she could get over disappointment and move on. She had learnt another side of love, and so had I. Just as love heart shapes can be found in the most natural and basic materials, so love is found in the most fundamental, the rawest, of human emotions- including despair, confusion and disappointment.

Sometimes loving someone will include helping them get what they want. Sometimes love will involve helping someone live with not getting what they want and being okay with that. Sometimes love is gentle and patient, and sometimes love takes initiative and surprises expectations.

Love has many faces, sights and sounds. All of them are beautifully wise and expressive.

This is part of a series on compassion, which includes part one, being real and keeping it real. Part 3 is about mindful compassion.

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  1. Margaret says:

    Beautifully and powerfully written. We can never hear enough reminders of such deep words of wisdom.

  2. Norma L. says:

    Ian, thank you so much for your wonderful messages and for this one in particular.  About a year after my son passed I started finding hearts in nature and food and water spots and coffee spots, etc… I felt this was a message/reminder that no matter how tough life gets I am always blessed and always loved.  The ten year anniversary of his passing is this week and this message could not have come at a more perfect time. Thank you thank you thank you. 

    My blessings to you and your family. 

  3. ian says:

    Much love and appreciation, Norma.

  4. Joy says:

    What a beautiful affirmation of unconditional love.  Thank you :)

  5. [...] Compassion has so many faces. The Zen story about compassion with a rolled up umbrella makes the point.  A woman was in India, riding with a friend in a rickshaw when they were attacked by a crazed man. He did no harm other than to frighten the women. However the woman was upset and asked her Zen teacher what the appropriate response to her attacker would be. The teacher said very simply, “You should have very mindfully and with great compassion whacked the attacker over the head with your umbrella.” It’s a surprising answer. You expect him to say something about forgiving the man. But compassion has many faces. [...]

  6. [...] is the first part of a series on compassion. Part two is about the many faces of love. Part three is about mindful [...]

  7. I love Julia Cameron – have been using her for inspiration for my writing for many years. And actually I love your site, the premise, and the birdsong which is an absolute delight! 

  8. Ellie says:

    Julia Cameron- paraphrase of ICorinthians 13.   A universal expression of love.

  9. Ann McHugh says:

    I came upon this site about 2 hours ago and have been reading the posts and thinking afterwards about their contents. Thank you for making this site available, one of the most interesting on Facebook.
     

  10. ian says:

    thanks Ann, awesome feedback and encouragement.

  11. Sandra says:

    Beautiful, thank you Ian, you are so inspiring :-)

  12. [...] Compassion has so many faces. The Zen story about compassion with a rolled up umbrella makes the point.  A woman was in India, riding with a friend in a rickshaw when they were attacked by a crazed man. He did no harm other than to frighten the women. However the woman was upset and asked her Zen teacher what the appropriate response to her attacker would be. The teacher said very simply, “You should have very mindfully and with great compassion whacked the attacker over the head with your umbrella.” It’s a surprising answer. You expect him to say something about forgiving the man. But compassion has many faces. [...]

  13. Lindiwe says:

    Love this…thanx.

  14. that’s why u benefit from catch & release from the old hp       that’s why its best to play catch & release with the old HP!