How often has it happened with you that you’re walking along the side of a road or in a beautiful garden and you come across a really beautiful flower? That brightly coloured, big flower with its petals in full bloom. For a microsecond, you stand there mesmerised by its beauty but what’s the instinct which immediately follows?
You step forward, pluck it and walk away. During all those years spent in school, this was one of the most basic lessons we were taught. The teacher towered over all those tiny boys and girls instructing, “kids, don’t ever pluck flowers or plants.” It was one of the first things we learned. Don’t you think it is sad that we forget to apply most of those lessons that were imbibed in us right at the outset?
It is rare, if ever, that the person who plucks this blossoming flower takes it back home, repots it or dries it between the pages of a book and actually creates something out of it. More often than not, this helpless creature, forgotten, just gets dropped off on the road while the human being carelessly walks away.
The next time we are admiring a flower, a part of us knows that we are not going to end up doing justice to it by taking it away but we still repeat our action. Have you ever stopped to wonder why this is such an inherent response for us?
I feel that we humans are an undeniably selfish lot. Our concept of “love” is totally flawed. Somehow, we equate love with ownership. We feel the need to own everything that suits our eye and somehow our mind equates the inability to own that thing as a failure which is too much to take for our ego. This ego resides in each of us and shows its ugly face some time or the other. We assume that as human beings, we have the power to change anything as per our wants. We fail to realise the true meaning of love, which is not about ownership.
I have always been a fan of dogs. Their behaviour and actions taught me what unconditional love looks like. I am even writing this blogpost because I came to realise the concept of ‘love not being about ownership’ because of those selfless beings.
My circumstances at home have kept me from being a “dog mom” in the true sense but I never considered that as a hindrance strong enough to keep me from trying. Three street dogs – Junior, Peanuts and Blitz may not have the comforts of a home made of bricks and cement but they surely have the freedom and extended love that comes from having the entire street as their home.
A few months ago Peanuts and Blitz had five adorable little babies who became the apple(s) of the eyes of everyone in our street. Nobody could keep their eyes off these bundles of joy who would spend the entire day running (I should actually say shaking their butts) after people so they could lick and kiss them all over, secretly hoping to also get some belly rubs and pats in return!
There was an unstated understanding among all the neighbours and every few hours someone would come out of their house with a big bowl of milk or packets of biscuits which this litter of mischievous puppies would devour in mere seconds. There was not a single instance where they would sit still. If they didn’t find any ‘hoomans’ to attack, they would be busy tackling each other, playfully biting the other siblings by their neck and barking at full volume.
One of the five puppies, Espresso, as her name suggests, was hyperactive. She was the only brown one in the litter and closely resembled a pug although she wasn’t one. She stood out because of her colour and excitable nature.
One not-so-fine-morning, everyone woke up to find that Espresso was missing. It was unlike her to not be marching around, without a care in the world, chewing on a stick and dropping everything to come lick your hand the moment you step out of the house. Mini search parties were organised when a few hours passed by and she was still nowhere to be found.
It was later deduced, with the help of some eye-witnesses, that a resident from a close-by block had taken her away as his pet. Everyone was heartbroken. Peanuts and the siblings barely played, ate or slept; they only went around sniffing and peeping under every car, door or boundary wall of the buildings. There was a sense of gloom in the air that had almost never been felt before.
This incident made me wonder where the difference lies between love that comes from ownership and love from a distance. Isn’t ownership a condition we attach to our love for others? And isn’t love an emotion present in our internal being, something deeply personal to us? We do not have to equate it with ownership to prove its existence.
People say love is supposed to be easy but I believe real love is hard – it needs you to stay strong through situations that break you and test you. The purity of love is more important than “owning” someone or something. Real love should prompt us to do what is best for the one we love. It should allow our ego to take a step back and put the needs, safety and happiness of our love ahead of us. We, as humans, should be able to accept that sometimes not having the subject of our love close to us is the best thing for it
…and maybe even for us.
Who decides that love from a distance is inferior to the love that comes from ownership?