Throughout learning about these past lives of mine and how I loved- or failed to love- in previous ages, I have a bit of insight. I’m sure it’s in no way complete or the final word, but it may be useful.
First of all, falling in love is easy because love, in its most basic form, is just a fond attachment to someone. In that sense, foxes might be said to be “in love” because they do form pair bonds. I don’t think love on its own is unique to humans at all.
What love between human beings requires to really work is an extra ingredient: namely, mutual respect. It’s just how we’re wired, socially and emotionally; we want to be respected, but to get respect it has to be an equal exchange. Mutual respect seems to be the only real tonic for this dialectic in the human essence that pits our need for self-realization against our need for emotional and material interdependence.
some say that love is about sacrifice; but how do you make the right sacrifices to meet each other in the middle unless you both respect each other?
Some say love is about understanding and empathy; but how do you understand and empathize with someone you don’t respect?
Some say love is about communication; but how do you communicate on an equal footing unless you both respect each other?
When I was John, I believe I may have joined the army because I couldn’t deal with my family. That was a failure of respect.
When I was a fox, we had no need for respect because we had only our most basic urges to guide us, and those basic urges just sort of pushed us together when we needed to be.
During my life in the mid-20th century, I didn’t respect my wife because I rushed into love and didn’t bother to learn, and I lived at a time when divorce had recently become socially acceptable so of course, it ended badly.
I would like to think that love and respect are something I have learned, but I can’t be certain; my fiance and I have been together for about 8 years and we’re doing well. But I try not to fool myself into thinking that there isn’t some hard lesson about love that I still have yet to learn; I’ve come close to losing him in the long, difficult learning process.
I’m hopeful, but cautious. Love’s lessons are harsh and regrets can be many. I hope I’m beyond regrets; I want to live the rest of my life with someone for once, instead of leaving them or making them leave me. I’m off to a good start but love is never a case of “Mission accomplished.”