Beyond the Myths We Tell Ourselves, Big Love Is Waiting

Thursday, August 31, 2017 - 4:00 pm

Beyond the Myths We Tell Ourselves, Big Love Is Waiting

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Sometime, if we’re lucky, an unexpected wind will blow down our house of cards and release us from the falsely secure enclosures into which we’ve put ourselves.

When we operate our lives from these delicate structures, which we often believe are made of brick, we get stuck thinking that that layout, those paths, that floorplan is the whole makeup of the world. Yet, this structure — diligently built while executing our survival strategies — is the very thing that becomes the barrier that keeps us from what we’d really like.

We can find ourselves feeling walled into a narrow space, one with an eye and ear to fear-based “what ifs,” worries, and wounds — all things that we’d like, in one way or another, to wall off. All of that can fuel a stance of rigidity, disassociations, and defense as we try to maintain the house of cards as life laps at our shore and blows past the window. Often, it begins to feel like a loveless space when we bump into the edges of its confinement.

We work hard, we choose work over life, we take on responsibilities that may or may not be ours to take on, we suffer from psychic and emotional weight — things such as guilt, worry, fear, anxiety. Mired in struggle, directing dramas, and, perhaps, wondering if that’s all there is. Is it?

As we bury ourselves in “busy,” devote ourselves to mountains of purpose and strive — overtly or subtly — for external fiscal, material, social markers of success, we hold our deck of cards close to the vest, refusing to glance at our own dealt hand. Even when we’re immersed in work that draws us all in and provides meaning and purpose — after years of deep focus on that sole object and mission — that becomes one card in the house we build.

Ultimately, this keeps us aloof. Our ways become our own familiar territory, keeping out what we don’t like, what we don’t believe in, what we have disowned, what scares us. In our striving, we feel alone, isolated from expansive sense of connection to the quiet, profound, and intimate magic of the world around us. We forget that we are not Atlas supporting the world; the world is supporting us.

As David Whyte notes in his poem “Everything is Waiting for You”,

“Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.”

On a good day, if I’m lucky, I can shake myself out of my self-imposed mind-bottles and look up at the world in front of me, and see with some sense of renewed clarity how all those thoughts were affecting experiences in my life from relationships, to work, to my choices, and how I was living my life. When I start to feel stressed, frustrated, stuck, short-fused, or highly reactive, this is usually my cue that I’m not thinking big enough.

That realization is like the clarity of morning, before everything starts stirring and the hum of the day begins. It knocks me back a little and allows me to feel a bigger perspective. From that place, I can feel a deeper connection to the whole of things, even though none of those problems I thought I had may have been solved.

When I’m emancipated from my mental world of stories, scenes, feelings I don’t know what to do with, and other meaning-and-myth-making theories about what’s happening past or future, I can track how each little thought I followed to get me there was a closing down to the world. Somewhere in those mental gesticulations, I get lost. Somewhere along the way, my senses of love and belonging are threatened, which likely makes me feel a lack of safety, and I close up like a flower at nighttime.

“A human being is a storytelling machine,” wrote Paul Broks.“The self is a story.” It’s in this human propensity for myth-making that we often get ourselves stuck, by precariously perching the cards one on top of the other.

From that place, I’m shutting out a lot of what’s real and true, especially considering that many of my preconceived notions and rationalizations are not. As Helen Fisher notes:

“I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at the Hubble Telescope site on the Internet, but when you take a look at what’s out there, it’s so staggering. Reality is so staggering.”

When I step out from the house of cards I’ve built for myself, I feel love. Big love.

“Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation,” David Whyte writes in “Everything is Waiting for You.”

The clear path to such love requires excavation. We must, as Rumi notes, remove all of the blocks we’ve placed in our way to keep us from it. Somehow, somewhere, in all of our evolutionary neurological wiring, our wires have crossed so that we fear being loved more than being safe, small, sure, busy, and turning away from the big open arms of life. We think we’ve got it all figured out. While our gifts for self-preservation and survival are strong, all we’ve figured out, really, is how to make sense of the world into which we were thrust, or find ourselves. Great skills, no doubt. But if we rely on them solely, we guard ourselves from another way of being with the world.

We try to be as resourceful as we can to make a life, to make sense of life and ourselves in it. We busy ourselves in the well-worn paths, hallways, and structures that feel part of who we are. We figure things, we feel things and rationalize them away, we compose the story that weaves all of our various fragments together into some sense of a whole sense of self, yet that map of the world is flat. All the while, there’s a lot happening outside our known maps of survival and identity.

Perhaps the biggest form of self-denial is turning away from the grace that’s always there for us, right now here in the present, and has been with us throughout the arc of our history. Without a story to perpetuate or mental mazes to get lost in, you stop perpetuating the story, the delusion, that you’re alone holding it all together yourself. And, then, you can feel life rush in and join you in conversation. When you open to the world, big love is waiting for you.

Here’s to big love in all its forms.

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Ali Schultz

is co-founder and COO of As a coach, her superpowers include getting her clients to tap into their innermost being where the wellspring of their creativity resides. She draws on her 11 years in business where she honed her operational skills managing projects, teams, and human resources at startups and developing brand strategies. Before Reboot, she worked with Jerry Colonna in the first incarnations of the life-changing CEO Bootcamps. She has a master’s degree in religious studies from CU Boulder, has studied transformational NLP at NLP Marin, and is completing certification at EQUUS Experience in Santa Fe, NM. Ali is also an artist and an avid horsewoman. Art and horses are perhaps her favorite coaching modalities. You can read her infamous newsletters at the Reboot Blog.

Share Your Reflection


  • Gabby

    I don’t understand how you are coming to the conclusion that people fear being loved. Perhaps some people fear this, but many or most? I would not have thought so.

    • LenMinNJ


  • LenMinNJ

    Some “myths” can open you up to the biggest vastness there is, so perhaps don’t dismiss them so blithely. As an Orthodox Jew, that’s certainly so for me. Maybe “big love” is just another of those constraining myths?

    • Gabby

      I understood the author’s case differently, I think, from how you have interpreted it.
      I think when she laments the “myths” that lead us away from life, she means things like feeling the need to acquire a big house in the suburbs or to be acknowledged within a social elite or to work the hardest at work even on things that are not meaningfull. The myth is that these sorts of ambitions are where a person can find his life’s meaning or his ultimate contentment.
      I think the path you have chosen, in contrast, might be considered a way of “choosing life” and even what the writer here calls “big love.”
      She means to embrace the spiritual over the material, as I read her.

    • Janet M Pelletier

      Have you considered that big love is another way of referring to God, who is bigger than our understanding and bigger than all the myth making we do in order to try and make sense of the world? In this way of reading, big love as God, would that not align with Jewish Orthodoxy’s belief of what life is really about?

  • cnico

    Beautiful… see myself in this. Mingling is not always pleasant, that is the rub. But it’s worth the risk to step out of our well-worn lives into all the world has to offer. Computers isolate us so much… smartphones have become our bffs with little risk of betrayal. I fear social contact will truly fade away at some point.

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  • Debra Moolenaar

    Astrologically I’m guessing your ‘big love’ has to do with Neptune? You wouldn’t happen to have a heavy dose of Neptune in your natal chart would you? Moon trine Neptune perhaps and/or maybe also in Pisces? Maybe Neptune rising in your chart? or possibly, even on your MC (Midheaven) – i.e. your career? If so, the kind of love you’re talking about isn’t anything to be found on this earth – it’s all wrapped up in the divinity – which is probably why you have chosen religious studies. I think the take-away point for me here is that everyone really is different – your ‘big love’ may simply not be accessible to some and overwhelming to others. Please take care when you make sweeping generalisations?!

  • Carly Tanur

    Thank you for this. So beautifully written. My heart was needing to read this today…. so thank you.

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  • Thomas Vencill

    Maybe if we got rid of judgement and preconceived notions and actually give someone a chance we may realize they are capable of love and kindness!

  • LenM

    [This essay was re-posted as one of the year’s 10 best. So here’s another comment.]

    “Big Love” may be just as mythic as the self. Perhaps more so. It’s a perspective and not the whole story.

    And maybe Self is more than the stories we tell ourselves. Much more.

    Maybe Rumi was wrong.

    My experience tells me so. And the experience of my very old culture too.