In the final accounting of my days, I believe things will be fairly simple. I imagine I will ask myself:
- Did you love well?
- Did you love enough?
Everything else will fall away, as it should. Life is, after all, a continual falling away of the unnecessary, the drag, the burden on your back. Well, that is, if you become more free with the years, and I most certainly hope you do.
This is not the same as loving without boundaries. Do not confuse these words. Remember what Toni Morrison wrote: “Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t no love at all.”
Love is not like stocks or bonds; it does not earn interest or lose value suddenly. Love is interest, and it sits at the table through the argument, or it gets up and leaves. Be wary of the love that travels out the door in tough times, for it will most assuredly travel in good times as well.
And, perhaps, I should ask:
- Did you speak up for others who were not at the table?
- Did you fight, fully and courageously, to live your days with integrity?
- Did you fight, fully and courageously, for the right of others to live their days with integrity?
We can get bogged down in more questions and details, moored in the mire of life and love and duty (and what any of that means, for surely none of us really knows), but these questions alone will lead you through many a dark night or even a slightly shady day. You know this type of life storm, where the sun was shining and you were smiling just minutes before, but now there’s shadow and wind and you’re not quite certain where shelter is or whether you can make it there in time. The urge to hunker or flee is that sort of decision we all must make daily, hourly, and sometimes moment by moment, and rarely do we know for certain that we have made the right decision. All we know is that we survived.
But if you would move beyond survival and improve yourself, you must ask these questions: Am I loving well? Am I loving enough?
- Ask them now, while your breath is full and clear and your muscles are strong and your skin glows so bright.
- Ask in this moment because not one of us is getting even a day younger. Build or rebuild your life as you need to. Don’t wait. Do it now.
- Ask because we are all works in progress, and we will continue to be so through our last breaths.
They’re making it up as they go along, and so are you, and so am I. And that’s okay. But, remember to ask yourself how you are loving — if it is enough and if it is well. These answers matter more than you think.
Photo by: Nina Strehl