I was sitting with my book designer in her apartment, struggling through what seemed like another litany of hurdles that go along with publishing. But that day there was a new challenge we’d yet to confront. A fuse blew, killing her internet connection. We needed that connection if we were to do the research and share material between our computers. So she phoned her landlord.
“Hi Nigel. I’ve blown a fuse. Can you come replace it?”
Nigel? Nigel Williams? It couldn’t be. Yet it was. I could hear his old, familiar, distinguishably sluggish Welsh accent moaning through the phone; my long lost uncle who I’d not seen in twenty years, someone who’s had as difficult a life as anyone I know, and someone my family has long forgotten.
What were the odds in this large metropolis of running into him? I could not help but feel the stars aligning for us to meet, if only for one last time.
I suddenly felt a chill of nervousness. How should I respond to him? What should I say? None of us were ever that close to him. I’m as guilty as anyone else in my family for not reaching out, for acting like this one and only extended family member in North America does not exist. Should I hide in the bedroom when the door knocks, or just keep my head down focused on my laptop screen? After all, my designer and I have plenty of work to do. I want to keep the personal chitchat to a bare minimum. I’m paying my designer by the hour and we’re time-crunched as it is with the Christmas deadline only months away.
I didn’t know how I’d respond, that is, until he walked in the room. There he was, scruffy, hunched, frail, looking ten years older than he is. One look into his tired, bleary eyes and I just knew I wanted to hug this man. My mind pleaded with me to keep it short, get back to work, but I fought through those ambitious urges to stay present as I could, to ask him questions, and bring him up to speed on the Gowmon family.
An unexpected surge of emotion crested my eyes as I stood with him, feeling the sudden, stunning sacredness of this moment. I felt for this dear man who has little, if any, quality connection. And, once again, I was reminded that, at the end of the day, it is love that matters most.“To love deeply in one direction makes us more loving in all others.” ~ Anne-Sophie SwetchineClick To Tweet
They say love stops you in your tracks; yet sometimes we have to stop for love to find us. It can take a great deal of mental effort and physical restraint to pause in our pursuits, to lay down our tools, turn from our screens.
I had to learn how it was my trauma-based avoidant attachment relational patterns keeping me intimately distant from my beloved. She would arrive home to me and sensuously place herself on my lap; and after only a few moments of her embrace, my taskmaster mind would begin racing, enticing: complete the article, send the proposal, make dinner! All she wanted was my love, yet my avoidant blueprint and overly engaged sympathetic nervous system were far more interested in exploring and achieving—more interested in what’s “out there” than in being with her here, now.
Connection is awfully unsettling for those who learned love is unsafe, which can keep people frantically looking elsewhere for pseudo substitutes they can connect to, unable they are to rest into this moment, into the warmth of bonding. (This is the basis for addiction—to work, technology, drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.)
It doesn’t help that ambition and busyness are the ways of the modern, industrialized West. Doing is prized, so much so that we love to ask people, “Keeping busy?” Little regard is granted for what lies in the heart of an individual; for what they long for, what dreams stir them at night.
We are taught to prioritize doing and achieving. The future surpasses the present moment, especially in a world that feels increasingly insecure and pressed to secure its future. The grades in school, the college to enter, the relationship to get, the house to buy, all keep us alarmingly focused on the next thing on our list. What’s forgotten or bypassed is the only thing that can truly feed us.
I had the fortune to sit at the bedside of my partner’s 92-year-old grandmother who had only a few days left to savor the sweetness of her family and memories. Strong and assertive she was right to the end, this proud matriarch did not fail to offer us a few final pieces of wisdom: “Be happy. Just find a way to be happy. If you want a vacation, take one. Don’t wait. And love each other. Love!”
There is a beautiful article entitled, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, in which there is a clear theme of slowing down, loving self and loving others. The list does not expound credentials, time-shares and pay raises, but the simple moments of tender intimacy we all too often miss.
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Inc, bespoke of this perennial wisdom when at the end of his life he said, “The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love. That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on.”
Spoken about through the ages by talented artists and wise sages, as if Life longs to remind us again and again, it is love that matters most; it is love that brings the deepest peace to our hearts, and the world.
Mother Teresa, as exemplified by her magnanimous dedication to helping the poor, made a life of summoning us to love. She once asserted, “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.” Martin Luther King, also a teacher of profound love, declared that, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.” And the impassioned author Maya Angelou beautifully wrote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” It is when we love, more than any other act, that we touch others most deeply, that we cross furthest along the unseen bridge from our soul to theirs.
Those moments of genuine love are the moments we most long for, that make our soul sing. Any deviation from this most blessed of states is a deviation from the truth of our indigenousness.
We are born loving beings, hungering to share this love with the world. This immanence is seen in the gaze of a child’s eyes; it’s felt in their gentleness and unbounded nature that does not draw lines between man and woman, black and white, Christian, Muslim and Atheist; rather this purity of love is inclusive, uniting, as love certainly is.
Love, indeed, is our nature in the highest order, and it is our purpose to share this inheritance with the world. There is no higher calling. There is no greater need.
Therefore pause for love, for what really matters. Yes, there is always time. Live a life that’s a testament to the inextinguishable fire in your soul that never completely forgets the deeper, everlasting truth that we are love. Such living will ensure that during your final moments peace takes far more residence in your heart than regret.“When you seek love with all your heart you shall find its echoes in the universe.” ~ RumiClick To Tweet
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Check out Vince’s book: Wilde Empty Spaces ~ Poems for the Opening Heart