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On love for what you love doing, and other thoughts on love

There is something special about the love for what you love to do. You want to be the best at it. At the same time, however, you’d like everyone else to be just as good at it as yourself. It’s a little paradoxical. That’s a good sign. I think the closer we come to something true, something pure, the more paradoxical the whole thing becomes.

For years mathematics was my great love. I wanted to be the best. At school I was usually ahead, and would spend a lot of time helping others. There are many aspects of this that I enjoyed: Being admired. Being useful and needed. The attention. Yet, there is something I enjoyed even more. Showing someone what they had never seen before. My journey through the magical land of mathematics had shown me so many wonders. I couldn’t keep them to myself. I had to share them, show them to as many as possible. No part of it would I keep a secret. I truly wanted everyone to love mathematics as much as myself.

You know how it is. If you looked up at the sky and saw a shooting star, would you keep it to yourself? Could you even enjoy it all by yourself? The urge to share is too great. The whole experience has been so good to you. Out of nowhere, a shooting star. Such joy. Without notice. Completely undeserved. Completely effortless. Suddenly, there is a little happiness. You want others to have it. You want others to see as clearly as you see. This kind of happiness is so rude. It comes unexpected. Whether it’s convenient or inconvenient, it doesn’t care. It comes at no cost, and there is no loss in sharing it. This happiness is deeply involved with the love for what you love doing. It’s a great discovery, and it needs to shared.

Such love is a paradox. You want to be the best, and you wan’t everyone to be at least as good as yourself. Actually, there is no paradox. Just a little misunderstanding. It’s just that something about love has gone unnoticed. It goes unnoticed very often. Perhaps because it cannot be noticed while love is happening. There is no one there to notice it. Whenever love happens, and for as long as it lasts, there is no you or anyone else. We do not melt into a single soul or anything of the sort. We are still separate, still individuals, but it just doesn’t matter in those moments. Whether it’s me or you or someone else, it seems so unimportant. Identity seems unimportant. The whole distinction: me, you, and them seems for a few moments without purpose. Love is happening. Then love let’s go. You become you and they become they once again. It becomes important again. Lines are drawn and they make sense now. We become fragments. It’s okay, it’s practical. There’s nothing wrong with it. A look is all that is needed. Just look. Sometimes you’ll look and see love happening, other times you must be practical and all you see are fragments. Both are fine. Master both. It’s like this lady:

Sometimes you look, and she is going one way, and other times she is going the other way. The change is sudden, but you can learn to control it.  There is no wrong way. You must simply see that the whole thing is an illusion. If you get stuck in either direction, then you are missing out.

There are pieces, a puzzle, and you can make a picture. Once it is complete, there no pieces. If there are pieces, there is no picture. If you think so, know it’s only your thinking that makes it so. Either there are pieces, or there is a picture. They cannot exist at the same time. Think about it. One can become the other, but both cannot be at once. Even if only a single tiny piece is missing, the other is still not a picture, but just a larger piece. This is how love is. You, the very you-ness, is a piece. You are a fragment. When love is happening, you are no longer a fragment, but a whole. That’s why you cannot exist when love happens.

Pieces stop being pieces when they lose their edges. When you are a fragment, you have all kinds of edges. Your name, your gender, your job, your culture and nationality, your religion, everything that is you is just an edge. All edges are dissolved while love is happening. That’s why you cannot love. It’s practical to say so in speech, it’s okay, but sometimes it can be useful to be reminded that it’s not really so. You cannot love. There can be love, but then there cannot be a you. You can try it. It will simply look ridiculous. Like wearing slippers in a snow storm, or thick jackets in the summer. It will be problematic. Completely out of place. But this is what you are doing. Just look.


Nadeem J. Qureshi