Love is the best thing we do. ~ Ted Mosby

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Love is the best thing we do.  ~ Ted Mosby

This might sound hokey, maybe ridiculous because I’m quoting a sit-com character, but it’s a profound idea that many, many people believe in.  I chose this version because its sparseness leaves space for all the ideas it contains.

Love is the best thing we do.  I think it’s also the hardest thing we do.  Or maybe it’s the best thing we do because it’s the hardest thing we do.  I don’t mean Hollywood rom-com love or new, starry-eyed love;  I mean real, deep, complex, life-tested love.

Such love isn’t always simple or easy; it demands strength, forgiveness, cultivation, and action.  Anyone we’re close to and care about deeply has hurt us—parent, child, lover/partner, years-long close friend.  They have at some point been selfish, a jerk, distracted, thoughtless; and so have we.  Love requires understanding, empathy, compassion; giving each other the opportunity to do better in the future.  It’s staying in the relationship even when times are tough, through and past disappointments and disillusionments because we still believe in, like, love, and accept the core (heart) of the person.

The most loving beings cultivate the ability to see past people’s awful behavior, past the hurts and wounds leading to the bad behavior, and to the heart of almost everyone, not just close friends and family.  (I can’t claim to have gotten there just yet.)

For me, loving the larger, more-than-human world means accepting (even embracing?) its raw, unedited, unfathomable beauty, violence, and randomness.  (Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, avalanches, and tsunamis are awe-some and indiscriminate.  So are many animals who feel threatened, especially mamas with their little ones.)

But beyond just a feeling, love is action: care and support of other beings (animal, vegetable, and mineral); stewardship of the planet; doing the difficult, unpleasant, or inconvenient thing because it is right, protective, nurturing, sustainable. It is big-picture and grand as well as small, daily, down-in-the-weeds (as epitomized by parenting—of kids, pets, and plants).  It doesn’t mean always putting others first, but it does require us to balance our needs with others’ needs and the greater good.

As I said, the love I’m talking about is sometimes hard (as well as gooey, beautiful, and rewarding).  It’s also the source of meaning and purpose for me; I wouldn’t have put it that way until recently, however.  What has been a guiding principle for me for longer is a quote from the Kurt Vonnegut novel Breakfast of Champions, “What is the purpose of life?…To be the eyes and ears and conscience of the Creator of the Universe, you fool!”  That resonated deep inside as soon as I read it.  What better thing could we possibly do with our opposable thumbs, consciousness, consciences, and ability to appreciate beauty and wonder?   Now I realize that seeing, hearing, witnessing, valuing, protecting, and caring for the world are all forms of loving it.

I’ll end with a poem and a question.  The poem was included in a birthday card to me from a friend, and each time I read it, it nudges me to love more.  How much more can you love—do love, share love—for the sake of the world, and the sake of yourself?

 

For Love of the World
by Charlotte Tall Mountain

For the love of a tree, she went out on a limb.

For the love of the sea, she rocked the boat.

For the love of the earth, she dug deeper.

For the love of community, she mended fences.

For the love of the stars, she let her light shine.

For the love of spirit, she nurtured her soul.

For the love of a good time, she sowed seeds of happiness.

For the love of the Goddess, she drew down the moon.

For the love of nature, she made compost.

For the love of a good meal, she gave thanks.

For the love of family, she reconciled differences.

For the love of creativity, she entertained new possibilities.

For the love of her enemies, she suspended judgment.

For the love of herself, she acknowledged her worth.

And the world was richer for her.

Charlotte Tall Mountain (July 1, 1941 to May 6, 2006) was an artist and poet of an Iroquois Native American heritage.

Alexandra Marchosky
Alexandra Marchosky
I coach individuals and organizations to do and be better by more fully living their values.
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