We all want love. I am surprised sometimes at how powerful this urge can be. It's not specifically sex I am speaking of, although that may figure into it. We all want love, to be thought of as precious and valuable by someone - and to have that demonstrated to us in tangible ways, ways that say "I love you" to us that we can understand.
I was struck this morning as I made my normal rabbit rounds how even in that wanting of love, it can be desired - and expressed - different ways.
Bella, the rabbit we've had the longest, is very insistent. The last in line to be fed, she gnaws at the bars of her cage, occasionally running in little circles in eagerness. Once the cage is open, she immediately thrusts herself to the opening, demanding to be pet or attempting to dominate your arm, then kiss it, then be pet again. She will sit for short periods of time in my lap for petting, but always jumps back to her cage and turns about, ready to be pet one more time. She can be terribly insistent before finally being reminded that her treats are in the cage with her.
Midnight, the rescue rabbit, is much more distrustful. Only recently, after over a year, has she become willing to come to the door of the cage and suffer to be pet while she waits for food. She used to not come at all; now, she hops over to the edge, carefully watching as you place the food into her cage, allowing herself some strokes in the process - sometimes, seemingly embarassed by the attention, she seeks to clean her dewlap in front as if to say "I'm embarassed by this - let me clean myself up." But no matter how willing she is to be pet, she is also quite willing to make her unhappy rabbit noises to let you know when she is done.
Snowball, our most recent addition, just loves to be loved. Once out of his cage, he happily jumps into your lap and almost demands to be loved. Sometimes it involves long strokes of the back, sometimes rubbing just under the ears, sometimes rabbit kisses and soft strokes to the head. But he is always happy to have them, just as he is always sad to go back to the cage.
This morning when I got him out of cage he immediately settled in. I thought he would be hungry but no, he wanted love. So, supporting his upper paws and body under my right arm, I stroked the top of his head with my chin and his body with my left. The look on his face - his eyes closed, his breathing normal - left me with the urge to just call in sick and spend the morning with him instead.
The reality is that in this way, we all are no different than our rabbits. We all want love, although sometimes we want other than what we receive and react other than how others feel we should. Your interpretation of a loving act may to me mean nothing; my pouring out of my heart through my action may be interpreted as nothing more than a "nice gesture". True, parting of loving is learning how to receive love from others in the way that they mean it; at the same time, part of loving is learning how to express it in ways that other not only sees it but senses it and knows it for what it means.
There is nothing more grand than a loving act that is given and received in the spirit and intent of the giving, an act that clearly communicates "I love YOU". Likewise, there is nothing more desolate and unsatisfying on both ends than an act which is meant to say "I love YOU" but ends up saying "I love you" - that the act becomes more about how the giver interprets the recipient's need of love rather than understanding how they need the love communicated to them.
When you say "I love you", what does the recipient truly experience?