Lessons I Learn from Animals
Vegan Lifestyle Articles From All-Creatures.org

Vegan lifestyle articles that discuss ways of living in peace with humans, animals, and the environment.


FROM

Ellie Laks, Founder, The Gentle Barn
November 2016

I know what love is every time I touch noses with my horses and breathe them in. I know what love is when I watch our animals relax in the shade after breakfast and they are at peace. I know what love is when I hold my daughters hand in mine. I know what love is when my husband snores next to me. I know what love is when I see The Gentle Barn full of guests when we are open. I finally know what love is: it is inside of me. Love is not something I get. It is something I have to give!

Ever since I was a child, I have felt lonely and empty. I am not blaming anyone for this. My parents loved me and did the best they could, but nevertheless that is how I felt. I have always wished and prayed and hoped that one day I would know what love is. I would enter into relationships and if they didnít love me back, or betrayed me, or left me, I would ache and pray even harder that one day I would know what love is.

I would look to other people to fill me up and keep me company. I would look outside of myself to feel the warmth I had seen in movies and only hoped for. When I was in a relationship and things were good, I would feel happy and full, but when it would turn sour or end I would feel empty again and lost. All the while I wished that one day I would know what love is.

I had this idea of love and happiness as things that would come from outside of myself, always dependent on others. My self-esteem and worth came from how others treated me. Sadly, that approach made my life a roller coaster, never knowing what was coming around the corner. My ups-and-downs were based upon how I was being treated, not about who I was on the inside. I needed people to be kind to me so I would feel happy. I needed others to treat me with respect so I would feel valued. I needed others to like me so I would feel loved. Always reacting to how others treated me and not having any control over what they would bring, left me in turmoil.

loving animals

The other day I was cuddling with our newly rescued dog, Little One. I was marveling at the fact that just a few weeks ago I didnít even know she existed and now I feel like I canít live without her. When I come home, my arms ache to hold her. At night, I look forward to snuggling with her. In the middle of the night, I wake up just to watch her sleep and hear her snore softly. I have become accustomed to the click clack of her nails on the wood floor as she follows me everywhere I go. Watching her play and wag her tail fills me with so much joy. Suddenly I realized that love is not something that comes from the outside. Love is not something that happens to me. Feeling loved is not something that someone else needs to give me or show me. Love is something that I have inside of me. It is something that comes from the inside to the outside. It is something that I have for others, not that others need to have for me. It is the way I look at others and feel towards others, and it has nothing to do with them or how they treat me, it is something that I control.

Love is something that we carry in our hearts and it does not need to change, ever. No matter what someone does, or how they treat me, or if they are good or bad, does not need to change the way I feel inside. I know love because it is inside of me. I know what love is, not because there are others giving it to me, but because I have it and Iím giving it to everyone. I know what love is because my heart is full of it. I know what love is when I look into my childrenís eyes. I know what love is when I hear my puppies breathing next to me. I know what love is every time I touch noses with my horses and breathe them in. I know what love is when I watch our animals relax in the shade after breakfast and they are at peace. I know what love is when I hold my daughters hand in mine. I know what love is when my husband snores next to me. I know what love is when I see The Gentle Barn full of guests when we are open. I finally know what love is: it is inside of me. Love is not something I get. It is something I have to give!

Ultimate love is when we understand, even when we donít understand. When we have compassion, even when we want to judge. When we keep the door to our hearts open, especially when it is hard, even when we get mad, and especially when we want to slam it shut. When we understand that the person in front of us is the same as us, even when they believe differently, even when they act differently, even when they stand for everything that we stand against. When we give love in adversity, when we give love even when someone hates us, when we feel love no matter what the other person is doing, then we know what love is.

When I look at my animals and I feel like my heart will burst; that is the love I want to have for everyone, no matter what. That is the love I have for Mother Earth. That is the love I have for all creatures. I have that love for all my teachers, even when they show up as my enemy. That is the love I have for every experience I have gone through, good or bad. That love consumes me, and it grows deeper every day, with every experience. I finally know what love is, and I am so, so, so, grateful! 


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