It’s all about love…really!

Snow-woman found in Madison, WI

It’s all about love…really!

I know this might sound cliché and especially given that this is Valentine’s week and there is so much attention given to romantic gestures to express love and attachment. For anyone who pays attention, we know that romantic gestures alone don’t sustain love or relationship over time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy romance and romantic gestures in my marriage. However, we need to have additional skills and developed senses to support what our hearts long for and need – to know that someone is here with us, that someone sees and hears us, and that someone chooses us – loves us.

We have this need from the moment we enter this world to the moment we leave it. We’re hard-wired for it so it’s active in all our close relationships. Meeting this basic and vulnerable need gets distorted with life experience, may be hurt in the lack of early childhood fulfillment, and gets shielded to protect against further rejections, but it never goes away. So we’re always seeking to meet it.

And here’s rub (so to speak) focusing only on finding the “someone” who will fill this longing will limit us and keep us in a state of longing Our psychological and emotional growth as a person comes from developing the skills for meeting another with presence, attention, and loving action.

I think a lot about this. I meet it every day in myself, in my life with the people I love, and in my work with others. I get a lot of help from my loved ones, friends, mentors, poets, writers, artists of all sorts, the natural world, and sources I least expect. Here are a few suggestions gleaned from the largesse of assistance available.

  1. Let yourself turn off your cell phones and tablets when you are talking with your loved ones. People don’t know that you care about them, will assume they are not important to you if you are splitting your attention between them and the distraction of technology.
  2. When you are with a loved one, expect to “see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight” as Mary Oliver, the poet (and a national treasure in my book) says. We miss a lot of opportunities for delight…..and we all need to be delighted more. Seek “delightenment” every day and see what happens in your world.
  3. Keep in mind that time with your loved ones is limited and is passing quickly. People who have received a catastrophic diagnosis talk about this a lot. When asked toward the end of their lives what regrets they have, people say not spending enough or the right kind of time with their loved ones. This is always in the top 5 things listed. We can learn from this. We don’t have to wait for a catastrophe or the end of our lives to act.Ask yourself every day, “How do I want to use the time I have with my loved ones today?”
  4. Give some thought to creative ways of making sure your loved ones know you love them, that you choose them to be significant in your life. Carrie Newcomer, the singer/songwriter, puts it this way: “…there is something powerful, not when it’s said without thought, but when you do say something out loud that’s important to you, “I love you” and you mean it. Or “if you need me, I will be there.” When you say it out loud…..something shifts, something changes….”I heard a story a long time ago about a man who said that he loved his wife so much he almost told her. While that might sound a bit extreme, saying “I love you” out of routine, without much meaning or clear action, doesn’t get your love across to the other.Treat yourself and the love you have in your heart as important and significant to another.

Closing this I offer the following. Unfortunately I don’t know who the author is, but I express my deep gratefulness for the creativity, humor, and teaching here. Enjoy!

Heart Tech Support

Tech Support: Yes … how can I help you?


Customer: Well, after much consideration, I’ve decided to install Love. Can you guide me though the process?


Tech Support: Yes. I can help you. Are you ready to proceed?


Customer: Well, I’m not very technical, but I think I’m ready. What do I do first?


Tech Support: The first step is to open your Heart. Have you located your Heart?


Customer: Yes, but there are several other programs running now. Is it okay to install Love while they are running?


Tech Support: What programs are running?


Customer: Let’s see, I have Past Hurt, Low Self-Esteem, Grudge and Resentment are all running right now.


Tech Support: No problem,

  • Love will gradually erase the power of Past Hurt from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory but it will no longer disrupt other programs.
  • Love will eventually override Low Self-Esteem with a module of its own called Self-Acceptance.
  • However, you have to completely turn off Grudge and Resentment. Those programs prevent Love from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

Customer: I don’t know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?


Tech Support: With pleasure. Go to your start menu and invoke Forgiveness. Do this as many times as necessary until Grudge and Resentment have been erased. You may also need to invoke Gratitude as an adjunctive module to free you of these files.


Customer: Okay, done! Love has started installing itself. Is that normal?


Tech Support: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other Hearts in order to get the upgrades.


Customer: Oops! I have an error message already. It says, “Error – Program does not run on external components.” What should I do?


Tech Support: Don’t worry. It means that the Love program is set up to run on Internal Hearts, but has not yet been run on your Heart. In non-technical terms, it simply means that Love is a reciprocal interactive program – self love and love of another support each others functions.


Customer: So, what should I do?


Tech Support: Pull down Self-Acceptance again; then click on the following files:

  • Clear Away Delusion;
  • Realize Your True Nature; and
  • Acknowledge your Limitations.

Customer: Okay, done.


Tech Support: Now, copy them to the “My Heart” directory. The system will override any conflicting files and begin patching faulty programming.


Also, you need to delete Verbose Self-Criticism from all directories and empty your Recycle Bin as often as you need.


Customer: Got it. Hey! My heart is filling up with new files. Sympathetic Joy is playing on my monitor and Loving-kindness and Compassion are copying themselves all over My Heart. I can see that Equanimity is also now functioning. Is this normal?


Tech Support: Sometimes. For others it takes awhile, but eventually everyone gets it at the proper time. So Love is installed and running. One more thing before we hang up. Love is Freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everyone you meet. They will in turn share it with others and return some cool modules back to you.


Customer: Thank you.

About the author

Suzanne Kilkus

Suzanne Kilkus is a Soto Zen meditation practitioner and teacher and has practiced as a therapist and counselor for over three decades. She is dedicated to assisting people in expanding their capacity for giving and receiving love, and for recognizing and expressing their basic goodness in everyday life. Her path to live with wholehearted compassion and care is an invitation to everyone. She is a teacher with Open Door Zen Community in Madison, WI.