“What Is This Thing Called Love?”

Not long ago, I watched a movie called Pirate Radio, and on the really great soundtrack, one of the songs in particular, really got my attention. More than that actually. It broke my heart. Partly because of the heartrending and incredibly powerful delivery by Lorraine Ellison, and partly due to it’s really disturbing theme.

The song is called “Stay With Me Baby”. I found it online the day after, listened to it again, and then bought it from iTunes. Since then I’ve listened to it maybe a dozen times and every time…every time, I tear up. For sure, her performance – how she captures the absolute panic, disbelief and terror caused by being abandoned by her lover/partner – is a big part of that. So I reckon my tears have to do with that, and  compassion for her situation.

But it’s something else that keeps bringing me back to  to the song. And I think it’s my wish to figure out what’s going on with her, why that feels so terribly wrong, so I can learn. and maybe share.

As you might remember, my last post addressed the subject of the “near enemies” – the (Buddhist) concept –  of human attributes which so resemble each other that they appear to be the same thing, but are actually opposite.

In that post I said that I was going to address the ‘near enemies” of love vs. attachment alone in a subsequent post because the topic is such a biggie.  At the time, I had in mind this song to illustrate this point.

Here is the link:

(BTW, If you are reading this post in your actual email, the link to the song might not work.You might have to click on the title of this post (above) which will take you to my blog page itself. There you can play it, and for sure, you’ll see what I mean.)

So now, what about some of these lyrics, and what do they reveal about the singer who is greatly suffering?

-Baby wasn’t I there?

-Didn’t I take good care of you?

-I can’t go on

-Baby what did I do?

-Maybe I was too good, too good to you

-I’m asking you, begging you,

-I can’t go on

-I’m begging you, stay with me baby

I can’t go on? What did I do? Maybe I was too good to you? I’m begging? I can’t go on?

If I were her coach I would doubtlessly be asking her some questions like:

– Are you putting all this on yourself…looking for your fault? Do you believe you need to be doing that? Might it be that this is all about your lover, and nothing to do with you? And,

– Can’t go on? Of course you can go on. Did you give over your essence, your core, your power to go on? Would you like to take your power back? How would that feel? And,

– Begging? Do you really believe that any healthy relationship, one which nourishes both partners can flourish on begging?

So, dear reader, what do you make of this?  Do you think this is what love is? Or is it attachment? Does this feel healthy to you? How about a different model, proposed in the writings of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and depicted in the two passages just below. Does this way  feel better?

“For this is wrong, if anything is wrong:

not to enlarge the freedom of a love

with all the inner freedom one can summon.

We need, in love to practice only this:

letting each other go. For holding on

comes easily; we do not need to learn it.”


“Once the realization is accepted

that even between the closest human beings

infinite distances continue,

a wonderful living side by side can grow.

To succeed in loving the distance between them,

makes it possible for each to see the other

whole against the sky.”

Dear reader, have you ever heard words something like: “I need someone to make me happy”? This is not possible. The responsibility for our happiness is our own. Taking responsibility empowers us. It puts  the control of our lives back in our own hands, where it belongs. A life lived in integrity and with self respect demands this. This is the way.

Practice Tip:

Today’s practice tip comes courtesy of Kahlil Gibran. It’s titled “On Marriage” but I’m thinking that “On Relationship” works just as well. It’s right on point, and beautifully articulated. Nothing I say could improve on this:

On Marriage

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Kahlil Gibran

Dear reader, please respect, and be kind to, yourself,



About Michael Scott

Michael Scott is a life coach, author and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. After spending 35 years in business - coaching found him - and he's never looked back. Michael uses his coaching training and experience, in the service of his clients, as their constant and loving guide towards joyous, fulfilling lives which are genuinely their own. He lives with his dear wife in Sausalito, CA.

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