There’s a sense in which my life is none of my business.
I don’t know so much — what I am, for starters. I mean, I know I’m a consciousness, the “I” choosing these words, but how that font of awareness got married to a few trillion cells such that we all shuffle around together — how that came to be I have no clue. Why I entered the world in a middle class American family — no idea. What the world is tending toward, the turmoil of someone much like me in Syria, the adorable joey dying painfully by fire in Australia, what will happen tomorrow, how long I will live — I know nothing.
But when I look back on the trail of my life and try to discern the hither to yon of it, if I sift through all I’ve seen and done and said and felt for just one gem, it’s this: I’ve been learning to love. The more love I generate, the more beautiful and meaningful my life. So that will be my resolution, today and every day: Love More.
Loving myself. I used to think that was easy enough, but it’s hardest. The reason it’s so hard, the gutter-ball of bowling for self-love that I kept throwing for about 40 years, is ego. Ego is needed. It was given us to keep us in our bodies, to train us to look out for ourselves so we can survive. Unfortunately, it usurps awareness and turns life into a contest, parading and concealing to orchestrate what it imagines others think. Only in the last few years have I truly understood the inseparable nature of self-love and humility, two sides of the same coin.
In the warmth and simplicity of humility — I’m just me — I can drop the contest and see how simple my job actually is. I try. If I were to make a pie chart of my activities and responsibilities, there would be many, many slices. But in every area, all I can do is try. To love myself, I focus on the sincerity of that effort rather than the outcomes it produces, successes or failures, which are ego’s domain. I see my often bewildered, flawed, self-conscious self trying to live, to do what’s right, and I love myself for it.
Loving those close to me. The hardest thing about loving family and others I’ve not necessarily chosen to position close to me is to truly see them instead of jumping to my idea of them. My idea is ego’s shortcut that actually denies their humanity, their ongoing human experience, and sees only how they impact me. If I can dilate the light of my own humility to cast it on them, I can see them, too, as bewildered, flawed, and self-conscious humans trying to navigate. I may maintain a long list of flaws they don’t see (so funny!), but I can keep in mind that I fail to see many of my own. (When I made fun of myself the other night for craving attention, my friends laughed just a tad too hard.) These folks, too, are trying as best they know how.
Loving humans I see. This one’s an impediment for me because sometimes I can’t stop. Walking through the airport in a strange city, for example, my mind whirls in overdrive creating a whole life for every freaking person I see. It’s exhausting! They were born, they toddled and shit their diapers, they had their heart broken and either cried their guts out or stuffed it in deep pain. Every single person! So I try to calm down and just send blessings to each.
Loving the world I see. This one is the chit! It’s the key to happiness, not just for those of us in recovery, but for everyone. I practice loving what I see. For me, this means viewing everything as an expression of god — that gum wrapper on the sidewalk. It grew as a tree, contains sunshine, soil, and magic, and was turned into paper at a factory where many complex souls worked and others exploited them from fear and greed, and it once contained gum similarly made, until a person who was born and toddled in diapers, etc., bought it and decided in a god-given consciousness to chew it, with all those sensations and reactions, and either intentionally or unintentionally let the wrapper fall, via a force of gravity proportionate to the mass of the earth, to have its trajectory interrupted here on the sidewalk. I also love crows and weeds. I even love many insects. Everything is doing, carrying out a story, dancing with god.
Loving the world I don’t see. I hold in my mind and heart at all times an awareness of this immense world over which I have no power. Instead of trusting the pixelated reports of it churned out by media, social and otherwise, that ticker-tape through my devices, I concede that I have no way of knowing reality outside my small circle of experience, except as a general idea, a story that will turn out unpredictably in the years I witness and after I’m dead. I know many beautiful, innocent humans and animals are everywhere trying to live, enjoying life or suffering. So I send out love, much like that of Buddhist prayers, whenever I can. I pray for good. I pray for a growing network of compassion among people. I pray for the pod of orcas that used to frequent the waters where I live but are starving today for lack of salmon. I pray for my son.
So, back to my own life not being my business. I didn’t make it and I control little of it, but I do have faith that god put me here to do something — to do good. Every choice I make fulfills or betrays that mission. Love more is the gem, the secret talisman I carry and feel in the pocket of my mind. It is, I have found, my source of joy.