It was a January morning. I lay on the grass looking up at the sky while soaking up the warmth of the winter sun. I watched the clouds make various shapes and drift lazily by. Peels from the orange that I had eaten earlier lay scattered next to me, emanating a sun-kissed sweet aroma. Everything felt beautiful. The smell of the dew soaked grasses, the smell of sunshine and my alone time with myself. I saw a pair of birds gleefully building a nest in the garden. They looked so much in love!
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Love is wonderful but…
I believe in love. I cry watching love on screen; be it a movie or an animated love story like Pocahontas. But although I’m this ‘sucker’ for love I have always been the happiest when I spent time loving myself. On the one hand I love being in love, while on the other hand I crave my own time. I always felt that love from another person is incomplete. It never satisfies me. But self-love, doing things I love makes me complete. That morning with these thoughts I went into the kitchen carrying the orange peels. Grandma who was on a visit was baking a cake. She needed the orange peels to flavour the cake with. I entered a kitchen that smelt of freshly brewed soups and a baking cake.
Looking at my expression she asked, “Is everything all right?”
“Not exactly,” I replied handing over the orange peels. I sat on the sunny kitchen slab next to the window. A few bees hummed over a flowerpot on the window sill.
What’s missing in love?
Looking at the bees I told my grandma, “Love is the best feeling in the world, isn’t it? I’m supposed to feel less lonely, more fulfilled and immensely happy when I’m in love. The Cinderella story, love stories, romantic novels, all point to the same kind of fulfilment. But why is it that I feel there’s always something missing in a romantic relationship? I feel that self-love is more fulfilling. For example – I go on a date. I have the perfect date. But when that date is over, there is something missing. A feeling of emptiness that cannot be cured. But on the other hand if I’m sitting by the window, watching the rain and sipping coffee, after the rain and the coffee is over I feel replenished. What’s wrong with me?”
My grandma took out the half-baked cake from the oven. Generously sprinkling the orange peels onto the cake she asked.
“Do you know what the main ingredient in this cake is?”
“Sugar, flour, eggs…” I ventured.
“No, what is it that gives the cake its character?” she asked. “Orange peels?”
“No, it is salt,” she replied, stirring the molten batter.
“Salt in a cake?” I exclaimed. “I never knew salt was even added to cakes.”
The invisible ingredient in love
She put the batter back in the oven. Wiping her hands on her apron she said, “Self-love is just like salt. No one mentions it, but everyone misses it if it’s not there. Nothing is wrong with you. In fact, it’s healthy to want your own time and spend time doing things you like. Without self-love, you can never have love. What is in romantic love that makes it appealing? It’s self-love.
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“Do you know what I like the most in your grandpa? I like his character. Have you ever observed him in his garage, all grease smeared and immensely immersed in his love interest? (Cars). Or have you seen him gardening? He spends all his major hours away from me, immersed in doing things that he loves, loving himself the way he knows best and this is what makes him interesting for me. The things that he does for self-love are the things that make him – HIM. If he stops loving himself, he will lose his individuality. If he loses his individuality, whom will I love?”
Love yourself first
“Self-love is the salt in romantic relationships. Without which it cannot function. If either partner loses his/her character it does not take time for love to fizzle out. To be able to love, you need to be loved by yourself first. To be able to be feed, you need to be full.” Saying this she set the table for lunch.
After lunch we all sat out in the garden to have dessert. My grandma excused herself and came out with a half-knit sweater. Knitting is Grandma’s way of de-stressing.
As I watched her, my grandpa joined me and said, “I can spend hours watching her knit. It was at a knitting exhibition that I first met her. Her talent drew me towards her.”
“Really?” I asked Grandpa, as the morning conversation with Grandma about self-love made sense.