The Hands.

time
I’ve learned that it’s easy to recall terror and trauma; that the memory of anything that’s caused us pain or damage or turmoil is so easily accessible and readily available.

I still remember this day in 2001 when our world came shattering and screeching to a halt. Time stood still. The safety we’ve always felt was torn from beneath us and images of terror and evil flashed before our wide eyes.

But, today, let us not remember the terror. Or, let’s remember, but not dwell on it. What you give thought to, you give power to. So, instead, recall the love.

Recall the faces and stories of those who were lost that day; how they were mothers and sons and aunts and sisters and fathers and brothers and children and friends and grandparents and how they were all the center of their own universe and how they were all – every single one of them – someone else’s everything.

Tell stories. Give memories a voice. Recall the outpouring of pride for our country; sympathy for our fellow Americans. Let us recall the kindness of strangers. Let us recall the bravery of our own. Let us recall how it felt to be united.

Let us not focus on the horror of how lives ended, but instead, focus on how those lives began; on everything between the day they were born and the day they died – because it’s everything in the middle that counts the most.

Let us not lose the lesson – because there is always a lesson, especially in the darkest moments. We’re all going to die. There is absolutely nothing we can do to avoid it. The clock is forever ticking – unstoppable even if we were to tear out the hands and rearrange the numbers in a futile attempt try to trick it into giving us one more day here. It shall not be tricked, for it is powered by a force bigger than us.

So, the lesson is not to find ways to live forever or to fight the inevitability of death. The lesson is to live every day with the knowledge that this is all temporary. To treat every person we encounter kindly and with gentle hands.

There will always be evil. There will always be those who seek to destroy, and spread hatred. It is dangerous to think we can stop it. We cannot explode it out of existence. What we can do, however, is realize that the only way to counteract it is with love. It may seem small and weak, because bombs and crashing planes are louder; but, trust in its power: The power of good and light and patience and love
and love
and love
and love
and love
and love.

This is my wish: anyone reading this, please do one deliberate act of good right now. Buy someone a coffee. Smile at a stranger. Look someone in the eye and ask them how they’re really doing. Hold a door. Hug someone for 9 seconds without pulling away. Serve a fellow human being. When you find anger, fight it with kindness. Practice patience. Notice each other. Let the despicable acts of this day catapult us into doing more good.

That is how we win.

I’ve been speaking my gratitude’s out loud every day and this usually includes a list that takes me about ten minutes to get through. But, today…today all I could say is “I am grateful to be alive,” over and over and over and over. It’s that simple today. I am just grateful to be alive; grateful that there is blood running through my veins and my heart is beating and my lungs are growing smaller and bigger,

smaller and bigger,

smaller and bigger.

Find love today. Be love today. Give love today.

9/11/2001

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Love, Loss, Liberation

 

lovelovelove

What if we could never lose the people we fall in love with?

What if we could keep them forever?

Wouldn’t that be magnificent?

To get to just know they’ll always be ours?

How much heartache have we all felt over the course of a lifetime in letting go of and “losing” someone we love so much?

What if there was a special potion that would make it so that you never feel that loss? A potion in a beautiful little vial you could buy at a candle lit shop at the base of a snow covered mountain, concocted in limited amounts by a beautiful old woman with magical looking eyes?

Would you take the journey to buy it to ensure you’d never feel that loss again?

I’ve reached a point of understanding that has really allowed me to come into a new sense of what love is about and I want to share it with you, because it’s liberating.

To convey what I’m wanting to say about love, I need to rely on some words, first, by my favorite author, Paulo Coelho.  Read these once.  Read them twice.  Read them as many times as you need to until you realize the full magnitude of them.

“People give flowers as a present because flowers contain the true meaning of love. Anyone who tries to posses a flower will have to watch its beauty fading. But if you simply look at a flower in the field, you’ll keep it forever, because the flower is part of the evening, and the sunset and the smell of damp earth and the clouds on the horizon.

That is what the forest taught me. That you will never be mine, and that is why I will never lose you. You were my hope during my days of loneliness, my anxiety during moments of doubt, my certainty during moments of faith.”  – from the novel Brida

I feel like, throughout my life, I’ve always sought to posses people if I love them.  We all do. I think it’s a really “human” thing to do. We put labels on our relationship that denote different levels of possession. Whether it’s friendship love (best friend), or romantic love (husband, girlfriend, wife), we are always seeking to make the person belong to us in some way, which is inarguably, very romantic.

They are “ours” and we are “theirs.”

We go through life, acutely aware that someday we may lose this loved one.

And, let’s face it, we always do.

Sometimes it’s mother nature that takes them away from us, and sometimes it’s something more complicated like conflict of beliefs or infidelity or mismatched signs of the zodiac. Or the fact that they like raisins in their oatmeal cookies and you don’t.

While this idea of love equating possession is romantic, I really like the idea that love isn’t about possession at all.  If we realize that we can’t possess people, it means that we can never really lose them.  And that is quite freeing, because I know whenever I “lose” someone special in my life, I’ve felt like I had to mourn the loss of them.

I’ve been seeking to look at life through new eyes in the past few months, and I think this is one really important aspect of that.  I want to look at people I love as though they are flowers.  I want to admire their beauty, and gaze at them, and know they’re part of what’s going on around me.  I want to leave them planted, right where they are, for if I pick them and try to keep them, they’ll fade away.  But, as Coelho says, “…if you simply look at a flower in the field, you’ll keep it forever…you will never be mine, and that is why I will never lose you.”

There is no magic potion, simply shifts in your way of thinking.  If you’re going through a break-up, and you’re feeling a loss of someone important and you’re hurting…remind yourself:  We cannot possess people, and because of this, you haven’t lost this person at all, and you never will.  They’ll always be yours.

I’ll leave you with another quote about the same subject from another one of my most beloved authors that echoes the same sentiment…in possibly even more beautiful language, if that’s possible:

“You see love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says “I love you.”  I love you if you’re in China, I love you if you’re across town, I love you if you’re in Harlem, I love you. I would like to be near you, I would like to have your arms around me, I would like to have your voice in my ear but thats not possible now. I love you, so go. Love liberates, it doesn’t hold. Thats ego. Love liberates.” – Maya Angelou

Love liberates.

If you’re hurting, if you’re going through it, as they say, I hope this helps to change your way of thinking and ease pain you feel, even if it’s just a little.  I know it has certainly helped me and changed the way I think.

Now, let’s collect all of the candy hearts and cards saying “Be Mine” that get handed out at Valentine’s Day and replace them with “Be Free.”

Love,

A

Bring Yourself Back to Life

Discarded flower.

Discarded flower.


I’ve come to an important realization recently, after a period of feeling so lost and without purpose that I truly would’ve done just about anything to feel alive again. I sat quietly with myself for a time, and reflected on why I felt so…lifeless. I rifled through the manilla “happiness” folders in my brain, sprinkling mental checkmarks next to all of the things I had that should leave me quite happy. As I got to the folder marked “goals,” I realized, mouth agape, that I’d stumbled upon the very root of the problem. I literally could not remember the last time I’d set a goal for myself. I racked my brain and came up with “move to California.” In a month and a half, it’ll be TWO YEARS since I’ve arrived here in California. That meant that it had been almost TWO YEARS since I’d pushed myself to do anything for ME. A goal.
Without goals, without personal hurdles to move toward, and jump over, we dry up. Immediately, as if I’d pushed a button, the clouds parted and I came up with a professional goal for myself (more on what that goal is soon). I am making that goal a reality as quickly as possible. Though this one is pretty big and life changing, don’t think that all goals have to be huge and life changing. A wall is built one brick at a time. If you’ve been feeling similarly lost, set tiny personal goals for yourself instead of tackling a huge one right off.
I’ve been feeling so much more alive and with more direction since I came up with a plan, and feel like I’ve got a new passion for life. I can’t wait to get the ball rolling! In the mean time, I’ve been using the knowledge I gained about goals to set smaller ones to keep propelling me forward until I can achieve the big one.

So, what are your goals?
Do you think goals are the key to happiness?

– A