“Each time of life has its own kind of love.”
Rereading the chapter in Tolstoy’s work “Family Happiness” from which this quote springs reminds me that this is about the sorrow of love that has changed and dissipated over time. Yet I chose the quote for altogether another reason. It brought to mind the ever-changing focus of the love that we hold within, and the varied expressions as one passes through each phase of life.
The last few days I have thought about how much I love my life; especially that in this time in my life I have allowed myself to choose a path and take the steps that carry me fully in the direction I intend to go. In the past, I felt carried along on a tide of which I had no control and felt helpless to tug against. Yet in reality I was making choices and often they were taking me in a direction that was rewarding and suited me well.
It is only in this time of life that I am able to reflect on the nature of the lasting loves and the newfound love of my way of life. I now more clearly understand the steadying nature of the love of a long marriage, one that has certainly seen its share of heartbreak, but has endured in spite of all we did to harm it. The love of my children has grown and changed dramatically over the years. At its inception it was a strong physical bond, wrapped in desire to protect and shelter, the need to hold them close. As they grew, I loved who they were, even as the physical bond lessened, the emotional bond grew. Even later as the struggle to hang on and let go all in the same movement, love became something to come back to when confusion and disconnects threatened. And now I enjoy the love of acceptance, loving them for who they are and aspire to become, much as I have finally learned to love myself. As the awful burden of expectations has fallen away, the underlying beauty of the fact of their beings returns to me as it was in the first hours of their existence.
Ultimately this love is such a powerful presence in my awareness and appreciation as a result of the great gift of being present in the moment and looking not forward, but all around. This time of life has offered up, and I have gratefully accepted, love of place, love of life, love of home and family, and the ability to revel in each of these.