“Each time of life has its own kind of love.” -Leo Tolstoy
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.
“The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.”
~ Logan Pearsall Smith
All activities seem to have a bit of drudgery about them. The trip to the beach still means gathering the items necessary to enjoy the sand and sun, and removing the remnants on the return surely is not a joyous task. Most every job entails some sort of repetitive work that can become drudgery without a passion for the outcome. That love of the outcome; whether it is a family raised with tenderness and strength or a sweater knitted of a thousand stitches, lifts us above the mundane of the moment.
Sometimes I find writing sheer torture, yet it is the outcome as much as the process that drives me on. To see the words lined up in the precise order I choose and expressing the thoughts we may all share, yet with words uniquely mine, gives me the energy to accept the painful aspects and dive in. Once immersed I find that mindfulness yet again is the tool to appreciate the process, revel in the drudgery, find pure pleasure in the now.
Yesterday as I was chatting with the mentor of my change, I realised that mindfulness has been the overarching catalyst of my self-discovery. Paying attention to every instant, and then viewing it through a lens of positivity, some would call rose-colored, has added a depth and richness to my daily activities that I never imagined possible. Training myself to step back and see myself from a distance while at the same time being fully present is challenging, the rewards are great. Sometimes I give myself permission to be impressed as I would be if I saw someone else doing some of the things I do. This is very new to me, to see and appreciate who I am and what I do, and that alone is enough to propel me forward.
Each life has its share of vocations, be you a priest who writes, a mother who teaches or a business executive who mentors a child. In those activities of passion and love we find the best of ourselves and drudgery is not a force to sway us, but simply an accepted piece and often treasured of the picture, one that we do not struggle against, but accept willingly.
“I must learn to love the fool in me the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries” Theodore Isaac Rubin
I have been told by others from time to time that I am too much. Too intense, too demanding, too something. We all may have an overabundence of a particular trait that we frame in the negative. As we go about the business of choosing what our life will look like, would we really choose to diminish ourselves?
Embracing who we are in all of our extremes is a challenge at times; humor helps I think. When I find myself running off at the mouth, I inwardly laugh and think, “there I go again”. It is a harmless acknowledgement of the otherwise negative,” I talk too much”. People with large personalities are a vital ingredient in the soup of life. The flamboyant, the enthusiastic, the highly charged, highly motivated introduce big ideas, inspire us to loftier thought and action if we do not allow ourselves to be intimidated and overwhelmed by their very presence. And if we are one of the bigger than life personae in one manner or topic, we owe it to ourselves and the grand mix not to scale back, tone it down, shut it off at the source.
It is not the “fool in me” that needs love, it is the message of too much that we need to reframe. If we are not one who loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, laughs and cries; are we fully human? We are not fools to have a full range of emotion, the ability to err and fail, we are merely the less than perfect beings among an entire sea of beings all imperfect in their own ways. There is joy to be found in embracing our quirks, laughing at our foibles, loving all the ingredients that make us unique; accepting our humanness.