Today Patch asks us, “What is your love strategy?” We begin by investigating the nature of giving and receiving. We are invited to enter into a visualisation. We are asked to picture ourselves visiting the many people and places in the world that we know, and those we don’t know, to take a snapshot of us embracing them. We are encouraged to go to the most remote and uninviting places and to embrace the most difficult and abhorrent people, taking a mental photograph of each loving embrace.
Try these next four exercises at home with a friend – in each exercise we were encouraged to observe how we felt about giving and receiving and to notice when our mind went wandering. We were asked to partner up with someone we did not know and began with offering full body hugs. Held in the arms of a stranger (four separate times!) I observed how our breathing began to synchronise, how our bodies began to soften and how safe and warm I felt. I was overwhelmed by the sheer pleasure of holding the dear body of another human being who had lived such an amazing life and was struck by the realisation that they too were honouring me. Next we were asked to hold the face of a stranger between our hands, look them in the eyes and with sincerity say “I love you” until Patch asked us to stop. There are so many ways to say I love you! There are so many ways to receive these words. Then we were asked to give and receive a comforting caress from another stranger. I wept as I was stroked with such unconditional love and tenderness, my tension melting into the comforting touch of another. Finally we had the privilege to sit in front of another and hear them give expression to what they love and then to have the opportunity to do the same.
We returned to our seats brimming over with wonder, moved by our coming together and mulling over the gifts of giving and receiving. People observed that they found it easier to give than to receive and we were swept into a conversation about why this is so. We also shared how good it feels and how much we need to be held, comforted and told that we are loved. Patch claims that if we were comforting by nature we would not need psychiatrists. “I do these exercises wherever people will let me, especially where there is loneliness!”
“What is your love strategy?” Patch asks again and then proceeds to look at the evidence that shows that love is not on the list of priorities when it comes to our society. “We don’t think about our strategy for love, we don’t teach it and we don’t often talk about it!” And yet, even when we don’t teach it, act it or think about it, it is still the most important thing in everyone’s life. Patch calls this The Bigness of Love. He then proceeds to name seven things he loves: “I love friends – I cannot imagine being lonely, there are seven billion people to chose from. I love life! I love nature, it has so many offerings. I love the arts – it is a medicine, a food – take it in large quantities. I love thinking – every human creation came about through thinking. It is infinite, invite it into your life. I love to care. Caring is love in action and finally, I love romance. When we are given the love of another human being for a length of time we become more than we are.”
In the evening Patch opens the floor to questions. We explore the themes of burnout, the danger of humiliation and the importance of designing experiences that make fun happen. We are content. It has been a rich and rewarding time. I have never sat amongst such a colourful audience. I leave the Universal Hall, my mind reverberating with one of Patch’s closing statements: “The greatest form of activism you can ever do is to be publicly happy!”
As I sit here, completing this delightful task of sharing this grand event with you, I am thinking of the many ways I can demonstrate happiness and remember that all it takes is to have a twinkle in my eye, a smile on my lips and a willingness to greet people. May the friendship revolution inspire us all!