I put the title of this blog in quotes lest I not give due credit to the 18th century poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who wrote Sonnet 43 with the same title. Just for fun and because I do love poetry here it is in its full glory:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Love and the energy of it is one of the true – if not the truest – Universal languages. Every being on the planet can feel love with their body as we’re meant to. It binds us to one another. It binds mother to child, partner to partner, and friend to friend. And as Taoism founder Lao Tzu has clarified for us – “love is a decision, not an emotion.” Humans perceive that emotions are the same as feelings which is where we get stuck at times. Emotions are the short bursts of messages from the body alerting us to the world around us and feelings are our longer-termed perception of the world around us based on those emotions. Think feeling “factory” where your feelings are made. Animals are no different in this regard as in their animal experience on Earth they have the same categories of emotions and feelings in which to work. They are, however, simply better at not getting stuck in the feeling area. And they’re way better at authentically and whole-heartedly choosing and showing their feelings for all to see. So when I see articles on topics like “how do I know my dog loves me” that breaks down into scientific terms the beautiful expression of that love I know we’re missing the whole point. How is it that we perceive they are so different than we are? Really, humans? C’mon, it’s way beyond time to take the leap back into unity.
Their whole body wriggles with joy when we come home from an absence sometimes even if it’s just been minutes. They feel our heartache and literal heart pain when we encounter heartbreak of some kind. Whether or not they sleep with you has less to do with how they feel about you than it has to do with personal preference. Just like us. And really, I don’t think we can have it both ways nor do we have the luxury of taking their actions personally – ever. Attempting to guess their motives behind their actions doesn’t equate with their sentient nature. Any more than it would equate with another human saying about a fellow human – “oh, I know exactly why he/she did that.” It simply doesn’t work to be in both the world of reductionism and unity at the same time. It tears away at the fabric of love itself to question the motives of something so pure. Isn’t it enough to simply feel what Animals share so openly and unconditionally with us? When we attempt to noodle out the “why” the message itself gets mangled and lost in the process. Their message is always and only “I am you, you are me and only the physical separates me from thee.” That in itself is enough solace to last anyone a lifetime. Or it should be.