Aloha and hello – and welcome back to another episode discovering the patterns that shape the stories of our lives, in the shape of the heroes that we are, and that we are becoming. We’ve come a long way now, you and I, and we’re already half way through the cast list for this particular story. From here it gets even more exciting, even more magical, and even more enlightening.
You see, I’d dare to guess that, since you’re on this course with me, that you’re well on your way through the journey, well on the way through this adventure. So you’ve left the earlier archetypes behind, and you’re growing into more heroic space in your life. You may have already experienced the powerful energy of the Revolutionary, the Destroyer, in trying to make sense of your life and having to tear it down in order to rebuild it. You may have found within yourself the insatiable curiosity of the Seeker, the Explorer, looking to make sense of the world, and looking always for answers.
So last week we looked at what happens when we tear down what we have so carefully constructed – the power of the Revolutionary to create a metamorphosis in our lives. Soon we’ll discover the builder, the Creator… but for now, the next character to meet is the lover, star of tragedies and comedies alike – the source of unrequited love and of lovers meeting as stars collide.
The stage of the journey
We cannot truly live unless we truly love. While that’s usually used to speak of romantic love, it’s true at a fundamentally level. Our purpose on this planet is to love. As F. Scott Fitzgerald says in his novel “The Offshore Pirate”: “All life is the progression towards, and the recession from, one phrase – I love you.” We can’t get to this point until we have experienced loss, grief and pain. We can’t get to this point until we have taken on the ability to give things up, to have the ability to deny ourselves or, indeed, to lose our lives for another. And we can’t get to this point until we know that we can seek love – as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it in “Eat, Pray, Love”: “Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water”.
And of course we need to see the innocence and purity of love before we can truly trust it. While the Lover is crucial, this is a pivot point on which the journey turns. In a romance, this might be the moment that lovers’ eyes meet across the room – or where they are forced together by circumstances – or a turkey curry buffet and a dodgy Christmas jumper, if you’re Bridget Jones. The secret seems to be in recognising love when it appears – or, at the very least, being open enough to respond when the trumpets of heaven sound..
In the movies, romance is so often treated as a comedy. That’s often because in real life, it hurts. It’s messy, it’s painful, and it’s uncomfortable. Sure, it comes with huge benefits – but it’s hard work sometimes too.
Of course, the Lover doesn’t just appear in moonlight and kisses. The Lover is also about comradeship and friendship. It’s the energy of Love that draws companions on the journey, whether it’s Luke meeting Han Solo and Chewbacca at Mos Eisley, or Dorothy meeting the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow. We need companions on our journeys – to lift us up when things get tough, to keep us going, to challenge us, and to help us remember that, in the end, this is all about Love.
The nature of the Lover
Up until now, the journey has all been about us. It’s been our needs, our desires, our loss. We’ve grown through the transition from Innocent to Orphan, as we come to terms with our loss. We’ve discovered the fulfilment of caring and being cared for – and we have begun to seek our own path in life – and destroy what gets in our way. And we’ve learned to fight for our rights. There have been nods to others in there, in terms of providing care, in defending the rights of others… but here we encounter passion. Here we find the hero who will leap into the fire for us, who will give himself (or herself) for the love of another.
Sometimes that love is a surprise. Luke and Han part company on bad terms – but the Millennium Falcon flies back to defend Luke at the crucial moment. Jack Nicholson overcomes his obsessive compulsive disorder to win Diane Keaton’s heart in “Something’s Gotta Give”.
We learn, as we grow, that it’s not all about us. It’s about what we give back. If we’re truly wise, we learn in romance that we don’t need anyone to complete us, to make us whole again – we find someone so that we can express who we truly are – and we learn that who we are together is even more incredible than who we are apart.
The Lover lives by the spirit of Love – from a spirit of passion and tenderness, compassion and caring.
And yet, for those of us who are open to see it, the Lover brings in the erotic energy of Love, too. We have learned to hide and to sublimate our desires and the physical act of Love as something to be hidden -and yet the energy of Love brings in the true passion of God. Without that passion we become dry, sterile – but with that passion we experience the true energy and wonder of romantic and phsyical Love.
Somewhere, here, we begin to see the introduction of magic into our lives. It’s no wonder that love stories are full of magic and miracles, of unexpected co-incidences and serendipitous events. Love starts to draw magic our of the air, out of the earth, and we discover that love actually is all around.
It will be no surprise that the goal of the Lover is to create oneness. The Lover seeks to draw all together into one, recognising the universal oneness from which we all come. The Lover will pay the ultimate price, if needed, for unity. As the dinosaur says in “Toy Story”: “I don’t like confrontations” – so the Lover seeks to break down the things that keep us apart.
And, too, the Lover seeks to bond, to be part of a group (or a couple) – seeking, as we saw earlier, the power of connection.
And as our hero the Lover loses herself in oneness, she discovers the true bliss at the heart of Love.
The core fear of the Lover is of course loss of love. And in every love story we see this motif repeated: boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy loses girl, boy and girl meet again and live happily ever after. Whether boy loses girl because of a misunderstanding (Mark Darcy and Bridget Jones, or Hugh Grant’s and Julia Roberts’ characters in Notting Hill) or they are torn apart by circumstances (see Wall-E or Casablanca), the fear of loss of love is always present. While we might hate to lose our identity, we also hate to lose that sense of connection and belonging.
Response to the challenge
Whatever the challenge, the Lover has only one response to the dragon – to love it. Belle breaks through her fear in “Beauty and the Beast” to see the monster for who he truly is. The Lover will see past the ugliness and cruelty and see what is truly under the surface – and even if nothing lies below, then the Lover will still see the best – and who knows – anyone can change.
For the Lover, the key is to Love – not that love will necessarily change anything – but that Love is ultimately what we are all called to. The Lover doesn’t see ‘love the dragon’ as way to win, but as a way to be.
A Heroic Task
And so the task of the Lover is always to follow your bliss. The lover will seek out what makes her happy, knowing not that such a goal is selfish, but that if she follows her bliss, and everyone else follows theirs, that the world will be a perfect place.. simply because our bliss is an echo of the divine desire within each of us – and because that divine desire leads us always to one place – to Love.
Love also seeks to anchor us – rather than blissfully hopping from one flower to another, from one lover to another, from one cause to another, Love demands that we commit to one another – because love can never be fleeting.
Love is a huge gift – the greatest gift of all. And the energy of Love brings with it new gifts – passion and a willingness to risk all, to throw everything into the pot, to take a chance. Love brings commitment and constancy too – the need to have faith in that commitment. Love is not ephemeral or fleeting – Love is dedicated, constant, able to ride the waves of change in a love affair or a friendship. We don’t just seek our own needs now, because we are part of something bigger and greater.
The Lover frees us, too, to believe that our dreams are possible, that it’s OK to follow those dreams and find out where they take us. The lover gives us permission to “follow our bliss” – and as we do, as we follow something which is as natural to us as breathing, then we discover that doors do open, and that it is possible to do what we love in the world.
The shadow Lover
Humanity seems to have found so many ways to subvert that which should be beautiful tender, kind, giving. Since Love is the primary nature of all that is good in the world, it’s no surprise that so many corruptions have been created to tarnish and stain the very soul of love itself.
Jealousy, obsessive fixation on another, promiscuity and sex obsession are all elements of the shadow – as is also a puritanical attitude to sex itself. The shadow can consume us and draw us in with the promises of love – but this is obsession not Love.
The shadow also calls to us from the romance of unrequited love – after all, it’s love, even if it’s not returned, we cry. Yet unrequited love traps us in the story – unable to move on and ill equipped to really see the story acted out.
Levels of the Lover
The Lover’s pathway starts with a falling in love. That may be a person, but equally it can be an ideal, a cause, a career, a place. Something stirs within to cause movement. It may be a case of infatuation and ‘star-crossed lovers’, or simply a yearning for love’s true kiss.
First steps are those of following what you love – drawn perhaps more by emotion and desire than by a higher power, the early attempts of the lover to align with his or her truth are often immature and irrational, and yet they hide within themselves the seeds of something even greater. Or the Lover may find himself drawn to follow his bliss – having torn down their life with the power of the Revolutionary/Destroyer, they are free to follow what delights them, what makes them truly happy – the risk of the metamorphosis produces a freedom to pursue their true desires – whether that be stepping out of a loveless relationship to discover true love, or quitting a hated job to follow a dream.
Somewhere the first flush of excitement fades, and to become mature, the Lover must learn the power of commitment – that love is not all moonlight and roses, that the adventure is not all simmering sands and exotic places, that the dream career will bring moments of soul searching panic.
Push through commitment, however, and there is a new level of self acceptance formed, as our Hero finds herself, and by stepping outsider of herself is joined to a bigger collective. We have broken the barriers of the Self, and stepped into unselfishness. The Lover now asks in every situation “what would Love do now?”
The Lover’s story
Perhaps the oldest story, the lover yearns to love and is drawn on a pathway of love – perhaps through curiosity, through an early infatuation or dramatic encounter. For whatever reason – circumstance, tragedy, competition for love, misunderstanding, parental disapproval or simple bad luck, the lovers are separated. Yet they find Love again – not always in the way they expected, and perhaps not even with the same person, but Love will always be found. The story always makes Love greater, never less – the purifying fires of the intervening crisis create something bigger, deeper, more profound.
Exercises and dreaming
What do you love? Take a moment to think of everything in your life that you love – whether it’s big things like family, a loved one, a purpose or cause – or little things like ice cream or a walk in the park. What feelings do those bring out in you? Is it OK to feel those feelings?
What can you do today to give yourself some love – to treat yourself to something special – some fresh flowers, a small gift, or just some time to be alone, or go for a walk, to see a sunset? And what could you do today to give someone else some love – doing something unexpected for them, writing a letter, making a phone call.
Where have you blocked yourself from loving and experiencing love? What barriers have you put in the way – and how could you dismantle those barriers to step into a new expression of Love in your life?
Love is the core of the Universe, the true nature of all that is true, all that is wonderful, all that is beautiful. Give yourself a chance to explore Love in all its aspects. Next time, we’re going to explore the power of the Creator and allow Love to find expression through the power of our own personal creation.
Until next time – enjoy the journey!
Find out more at www.timhodgson.org
PS – If you missed any of the preceding parts of the programme – then catch up here: PREVIOUS CHAPTERS