We have more lessons to learn. It is a good day.
Today: Love, and
In July of last year, I was in Venice. Let me tell you about Venice. It is the most beautiful place you will ever go. Like, I was breathless walking down those streets, there was nothing like it, something inside of me knew it and felt right at home. But I was mad at myself, to tell you the truth. Because Venice had been calling me for an ass-long time, and I had been daydreaming about it for many years, and then I stupidly listened to what a couple other people said about it not being very special to them when they had visited Italy, and I planned it for my last day, and therefore did not have as much time there as I wanted to. And I was kicking myself, as usual, for listening to other people, and not to the stirrings of my heart, which had been saying Venice, Venice, Venice for years. I prayed hard about it while I was there, and all was well, and I have no regrets now, but damn, spending more time in Venice is always welcome because I never saw that kind of beauty. And I’ve seen a lot of beauty!
My first night, I sat at a cafe near the canal and ate some bread and then the waiter led two men next to me at a neighboring table. They were talking about religion, or something, and the talk was very interesting, and I was in such close proximity to them that I had to start a conversation because this is what I do and this is the meaning of life, you see, to connect with people you barely know and to begin to know. The two men were pilots. They’d traveled all around the world, and they were on a break that night, and then they’d have to get in the plane and fly again in the morning, but for now, they were eating some pasta.
We talked about love, about God, about upbringing. The older man was Jewish and had been divorced several times. Once, he said, he worked in India, and people were terribly poor, and he didn’t know what to do about it. He wanted to help, but he didn’t know where to begin, so he helped one particular family and did the most that he could do. He was now married to a younger woman. He was kind of happy. Kind of.
The younger man was married, too, and he had grown up Christian in, Texas, was it? Anyway, he had dogs, and a wife at home, and he missed her, and despite his adventures traveling around the globe, he just loved being home, and wished he could be there more.
So I asked why he couldn’t be. And you know, it was about work, it was about making money, it was about not being sure what was next and what to do and perhaps not having any models or guides who did anything differently than what he was already doing, and so how do you know how to proceed in life, when you go off course, when you start digging up a new path no one has been on?
Meanwhile, I was steeped in the marvelous effect of leaving a job that was killing me a few months before, and at the time I felt like I had stepped off a cliff, but now, here I was, in fucking Venice, and I was wildly alive, and so I had a whole new perspective about things. I was actually happy. And I only saw happiness ahead of me, instead of destruction and despair, which is what I’d previously been saturated with. And so I asked the men about happiness, about what they saw as happiness, about whether they thought it was possible, about whether happiness is something you could experience every day.
There was a lot of squinting, in reaction, a lot of shaking their heads. The goal of life, they said, was not to be happy. The older man said that sometimes he was happy. Sometimes he had that feeling come over him. But not often. And the younger one was worried about getting divorced, because he kept seeing people all around him get divorced, and he needed a strong role model (though he didn’t say this out loud, I just surmised), and he was really kind and generous and special, and he started to say something that he only acknowledged was problematic when it came out of his mouth. “The goal of life isn’t to be happy, it’s to make a lot of money and then sit on a beach one day….”
This statement made him question himself.
Because honey, life is not some end-game situation. Life is not “work hard now, see results later.” I mean, that’s true, and it happens. But the system of sweat and reward got developed somehow, somewhere—maybe ancient Greece? I don’t know—and it is kind of how our whole society is founded, and what we all believe, but it’s really fucking bogus. It’s super hard to fight, but it’s bogus.
Life is about seasons, yes. Life is about ripening. Life is about fading and renewing again, dying and rising, flow. But sweetie, I mean, I gotta tell you, because you want to pretend this fact doesn’t exist and it’s really wrong to forget, that you can die today. I’m not being morbid, I’m just like, telling it like it is. No day is guaranteed. And I don’t want you to just experience this sentence conceptually. I want you to take a minute right now and sit back and close your eyes and breathe, and consider in your body the fact, the statement, the soul-shattering truth, I can die today.
You don’t have to envision how it might actually happen, but you can, if that helps.
Go on, do what I said. Take a few minutes. I’ll wait.
Now, how does that feel? What kind of questions did it bring up? What kind of confusion are you dealing with? Are you resistant to this truth? Are you mad at me? Have you stopped reading? Are you shaking your head?
My point is, life is life, and we have little control over it, other than what we say and do and how we allow ourselves to think, and all the spiritual teachers in the whole fucking world will tell you that you need to be in the present, in the now, and that’s really all you have, that’s all there is, and if you keep waiting for some later date to make something happen, dude, you’re screwed. You’re just all backwards inside. Stop daydreaming, stop planning and scheming, wake the fuck up.
That’s all I’m trying to say.
And you can live for many, many, more years, and your life is and will be completely and totally vibrant, and you should only do things when you’re ready, too.
Oh, isn’t it all so grand?
And so, love.
It is all there is.
It is the purpose of everything. I’m not talking about sex-love, which is the only kind we think of when we see “love,” because we’re all so romantic and all, and repressed, too. I’m just talking about love, and loving everybody you come in contact with, and being a vessel of love, and dripping with it, and having it ooze out of your pores. I’m talking about acknowledging that it is the current that runs through all things, that it is a recurring call to conscience, to action.
Love is speaking truth, and sharing your heart.
Love is honoring your soul’s purpose, whatever that is.
Love is figuring out what that purpose is, so you can be happy. (Cause you are meant to be!)
Love is generosity, and giving of your time or other resources, and being there for people when they need you. And how do you know what people are meant to be there for you, and the people you are meant to love? They’re the ones who show up. It’s that simple.
There is so much more to say. I could write many, many pages. I am long-winded, you see. But I want you to understand the intersection of love and purpose. When purpose is clear, love comes easy. When love is present, purpose emerges. The two are vitally, beautifully, inextricably intertwined.
Read a book, now, or go to Venice.