I am in a group that is reading a book by Simon Sinek, called “Start with Why”. I am not mentioning that to promote the book, but to promote my WHY. My why, for everything I hope for, dream of, and plan – anticipate – doing in my life is love. It is as simple as that. The why is that everything that is not love – in my life, and in the world, is not working. Everything that is not love has historically not worked. We need to recognize that universally. That’s why my unofficial – or maybe official motto, is “If all else fails, love more”. LOVE MORE. That is as simple as life should be. Look at the world around us. What is failing in the world? There is division, hatred, bigotry, loss of life, loss of habitat for those creatures that inhabit the world with us. Loss of the lush greenery that adds so much to our lives, and helps to sustain us. If we do not understand – soon – the importance of loving more, it will be too late. Too late not only for us and our friends, not for our children, or our pets, but for each person, every living creature on the planet. Certainly we cannot all give our attention to each and every person or cause that requires love. We can’t… no matter how much we might want to, or wish we could, we simply cannot. But what we can do is live our lives from a posture of love. Make love our foundation in everything we do. We can recognize that when something – anything – is not working, that the ultimate solution is very simple… love it more. Just love more. Realize what loving it really means, and do that. This is my credo for life, and the one I have worked SO hard to build in myself and build around me for the past several years. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS (or perhaps even before that)… just LOVE MORE!
I shared this poster this morning “It’s important for the caring voices to be heard”. That would hope to be inclusive of all the caring voices, with none to be suppressed, rather to be encouraged. For if we believe a quiet voice might be less important, or an odd voice less relevant, when all are shared with love and concern – we may be silencing the very voice that could make a difference.
It’s so easy, it seems, for people in this world to say “It’s not my problem”, and to be put off, instead of compassionate at the struggles of another. Yet every once in a while a story is told in the media or online, and somehow that story touches hundreds or even millions of hearts. But just think if each of those hearts had taken a moment to be touched by one around them, how fewer struggling people there might be..
Everybody says, “If you love yourself enough, that’s all you should need”. And loving yourself is good, and necessary. But my own love doesn’t make me feel like I belong. It doesn’t give me a sense of acceptance. It doesn’t give me assurance that I can fit in among the people I enjoy. It doesn’t provide me the opportunity to spend time around people I can smile at, or can make smile, or who can laugh when I’m funny, or make me laugh. Self-love is fine, but it is no substitute for the company of people who bring light into your life… it can never be that.
So, I told myself this would be Sunday, but it was an arbitrary day, and today is just as good. I’m afraid there comes a time in life to realize that dreams may be nothing more than dreams. To realize as only dreams the special friendship bonds that I dreamed of as a child, clearly in hopes of believing there could someday be those people who cared for me as my parents never did. Those people who could love me deeply – in the face of all that I am not – but rather in appreciation of all that I am. To accept for myself that what I am will not be the earth changing, “love will conquer all” leader that would have been better in my own mind than anything my mother wanted or expected from me, but merely a mediocre poster-writer, poet, and pretty but rather useless mandala designer, with a good heart. It isn’t a terrible thing to be. But I just still can’t help but wish for a bit more of the “love will conquer all-ing”, both in my own life, and for the sake of a world that could so use that. But it is time to be realistic, and let go of such dreams. Let go of all the conversations that I have yearned for with the people my heart cherishes, and won’t get to have. Some, admittedly a bit needy, but most just wishing to share love and gratitude. To share joy and appreciation for that opportunity to have somebody in my life who will just allow me to be unabashedly me, and to love them in that way that my heart wishes to love. These are the dreams that I have held, my fondest dreams, the prayer I have prayed nightly for sixty-two plus years, along with the wellbeing of each of those I love… just this for me. No mansions or yachts’ or photo-safaris to Kenya, just to live a life in love, and surrounded by those who will allow me to love them the way my heart so aches to do. I suppose this means little in the way I live my life. I will continue, perhaps with less abandon, to do most all the things I do. And the love in my heart for each of those I love remains unchanged, only perhaps growing ever stronger. I suppose it merely releases me from that burden of hope for destinations I was never going to reach, accomplishments that were clearly unrealistic from the start.
There are two fundamental reasons to change things. We change what we dislike, or we change what we love. Think of a tree. A tree cutter changes the tree to remove it because it is unwanted, or to remove the parts of it that are unwanted. But an arborist, or a sculptor changes the tree to make the remaining parts of the tree better. One person changes things that are unwanted, the other rather makes change to improve what remains. The same is true of us. We change in ourselves what we dislike – or we change because we love ourselves and are trying to enhance who we are. It is a matter of attitude and approach.
Yet, I would maintain that change from negativity is a more expensive proposition. There is a paper written by Christine Miserandino, called “The Spoon Theory”. It postulates that each day, each of us is given a certain number of spoons to get through the day – that represent the energy we expend. As we go through activities within the day we use up spoons. Her paper was written to illustrate that those with chronic illness use up spoons faster, and that they often use so much energy just dealing with their illness, pain, and the complications that illness brings to life, that many days they run out of spoons entirely and have none left to deal with day to day matters. And yet, each of us, not strictly those who are ill or disabled, have other factors that determine how many spoons we expend that are not directly expended to deal with normal day to day activities. There are many papers which talk about things which theoretically can reduce the number of days in our life through stress (use of spoons) – moving, dieting, changing jobs, money worries, relationship problems.
But change clearly takes spoons. Changing ourselves takes attention and effort that would otherwise be expended within our day to day activities. For most people change can co-exist within our day, without running us out of spoons – but for those who must already measure our spoons carefully, change needs to be managed and dealt with within an already tight budget of spoons.
So here it becomes more critical to approach change correctly. Again I maintain that the tree-cutter, getting rid of what is unwanted (unloved), expends more emotional energy than the sculptor, who is removing (potentially some of those same) parts of the tree to render the remaining wood into something beautiful. We need to approach our own change with the eye of a sculptor. The goal of change needs to be based in the realization that we love this object we are changing (us), and that the goal is to mold the remaining parts into something we love even more. Looking at change as a refinement process, improving what remains, instead of a surgery to remove what we dislike may seem a minor thing. But the mindset of a sculptor, working to expose something beautiful will clearly use fewer spoons than that of one who is attacking something they dislike.
So we should all consider change as something we do to improve and refine ourselves, focusing on the resulting betterment of something beautiful, rather than to focus on those things we dislike and want to remove. Change needs to be seen not as chopping down, but rather as molding and sculpting something we love.
All of my life – for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to tell a testimony to what I believe to be the truth that love can conquer all. This is what I had originally wanted my first book to be. This is what my dream was that my opera might be. All of the struggles I have gone through for the past four years (and all the years before those, but setting the goal in front of myself at that point) were trying to establish that truth in my life, so that I can tell that story. I have to build the story I want to tell before I can tell it, and that is what I have so wished to do. I want to show myself and the world that love CAN in fact conquer anything. That it can conquer autism, that it can conquer a childhood being scorned, that it can conquer fear and doubt, that it can conquer adverse circumstances. That it can soften hearts. That love can in fact conquer ALL. That is why I have seemed so driven. That is why it all means so much to me. This is the most important story the world can tell, and for a lifetime I have believed I need to tell it. Not that I can do it alone. Not that I can change the world by myself. But that of all the things there are to do in the world, this is mine. It is what I am here for.