In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack used this quote – “The Bird of Paradise alights upon the hand that does not grasp.” (John Berry)
Jack went on to explain that the Bird of Paradise is an actual bird, a very beautiful bird, in Indonesia and thought by many to be the first bird that God created in the Garden of Eden. To see such a bird is rare and to actually have one alight upon your hand even more rare.
It occurred to me that the quote could also apply to love. Just as the Bird of Paradise goes not wish to be grasped and possessed; love is something meant to be shared not grasp and held onto like a possession. I have heard of more than one relationship failing because one of the parties became “too possessive”, too “graspy”.
It is a fault of our human nature that we want to possess things and sometimes even to possess people. We want them to be “ours” and ours alone. What we don’t understand is that love is a feeling that must be shared and not possessed. Saying I love you to someone does not carry with it “I own you”; but, sometimes people imply that into the relationship. Those relationships are doomed to fail. Love is something that is at the same time shared and earned in return.
One earns love in relationship through kindness, gentleness, consideration, attentiveness, loyalty and many other things that are all oriented towards giving in the relationship. Freedom is one of those things. You cannot earn the love of another by holding them captive as if they were a possession. Most often the possessor’s own insecurities and fears drive possessive behavior. Rather than show love towards the partner to earn their love in return; these insecure partners try to grasp them instead and hold them hostage. We use terms like manipulative, domineering or controlling for men and clingy, manipulative and high-maintenance for the women in these possessive relationships. No matter what we call it, they are grasping for love.
Often these possessive relationships remain intact long enough to evolve into domestic violence situations. It is often the case that domestic violence is driven as much by the need to control the other person as from any other reason. Once all other techniques of control fail, the possessive person is left with physical violence or threats as a mechanism of control. Domestic violence becomes the final spiral towards oblivion of a long failed relationship.
So, what is the take away from all of this? It is that love, like the Bird of Paradise, lights on the open hand of trust in a relationship. You love someone and hope that they love you back. There are things that you can do to earn that love in return and there are things that you could do that would cause love (and the Bird of Paradise) to fly away by being too possessive. Love cannot be grasped it can only be shared and it must be shared freely and without constraints. Just as the Bird of Paradise is beautiful to behold, love is a beautiful things to see and feel and even touch, but it cannot be grasped and possessed.
Share a loving day with your partner with an open hand and an open heart.