First published Sunday, January 19, 2014

“Unconditionally – adjective – not limited by conditions; absolute: an unconditional promise.” (Dictionary.com)

Bear with me here. This post is something of a departure from previous content, but sometimes when something moves you enough, it has to be shared. For me, this is one of those moments, and it’s quite a personal one too.

Whilst the song at the top of this post was first released in October 2013, my local radio station has been giving it some air time recently, and in amongst the usual bickering in the back seat between the boys, the beat, the words, the emotion of it has filtered in and taken up residence. It is a song I identify with, that resonates, and more. I’ll get back to this in a moment.

Here in Wales, January 25th is St Dynwen’s day, the Welsh equivalent of Valentines Day, which of course takes place on 14th February. Both occasions, for me at least, scream ‘commercial hijack’ and with supermarkets, card shops and on line retailers busy lining up cards and gifts for him or her, it is hard not to see it as that, along with a societal instruction to make sure you tell your partner, spouse, significant other or whoever how much you adore them, love them, care for them etc. For those not in a relationship it can be enough to make one reach for a bucket as the outpourings of messages and proclamations of love reach a fever pitch. Forgive me if I sound somewhat cynical and jaded, I just don’t personally feel the need to be instructed by the marketplace to shout how I feel about someone through the purchase of cards with mass produced poetry and a box of chocolates no different from the hundred or so others on the shelf.

Love is something that has multiple meanings, multiple interpretations and connotations, and indeed every individual on the planet will have a different experience. Even the works of the greatest artists, musicians, poets and sculptors, all widely visible in the public domain, will have been inspired by something uniquely personal. We say we love the weather, or love a particular food, or love a particular book, song, picture. We say we love our children, our parents, our partner, our pet. Those three words, I love you, are used over and over again, undoubtedly as a genuine heartfelt statement, but I think sometimes also just out of habit. It could be said that there is a difference between saying “I love you” and “I’m in love with you”, a difference in terms of the depth of feeling, the impact that the recipient of those words has on the giver. We perhaps don’t look in the mirror often enough and tell ourselves “I love you”. To be able to love another, genuinely and truly, I think you first have to love yourself.

Love is personal, and begins from within. It is powerful, life changing, life affirming. In the most basic, yet most beautiful state, it is unconditional. To reel off the usual cliches, love knows no boundaries, love is blind, love is all there is. Love is a basic necessity for human survival. However, we’re great at tying it up with conditions, creating situations that suggest love has to be earned, worked for.

Unconditional love is, in my humble opinion, something completely different. Unconditional love accepts things as they are, doesn’t seek to change something or someone, is constant, creates a state of mind and being that I fail to find adequate words to explain. It is something that frees the mind, frees the soul, creates hope, light, sense, purpose. It enables, empowers. No doubt some would disagree with this next statement, but I also believe that it doesn’t require reciprocation. Obviously, one would hope that such a powerful emotion would be shared with another, and at that level such a partnership would I believe be truly incredible.

Over the last few years, a range of experiences and situations have contributed to something of a rethink on how I view love, and how I understand and interpret the concept and meaning. What I do now know is that unconditionality is vital. The emotion we label as love, in the truest form, is undeniably powerful, changes lives, changes outlook and attitudes. Understanding and acceptance of how loving another, unconditionally, without reciprocation, feeling and fully experiencing the emotion, has changed me, strengthened me, given me more than I can begin to explain. One day, I may get to share it with a partner, in addition to my children, then again I may not, who knows? In the meantime, I hope that this particular state of being continues, and that I continue to learn from it, grow, appreciate and not apply conditions.

The full lyrics of Katy Perry’s Unconditionally can be found here – they’re worth reading.

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