It really does conquer all
When I look back at my entire life, I have to admit it's been full of love. It's funny how people don't really like to hear that word. When it’s time to say it, some stumble like they have a bump in their tongue. Cynical folk scoff when they hear others talk about it and use words like trite and sappy to belittle the idea, but there is nothing little about love.
Love has been the strongest force in my life and it has saved me many times. Even in my darkest and most frightening hours, love was the beacon that guided me home. Because of all the stories of difficult times I have shared with you on this blog, I thought it was important for me to take time today to remind myself that love is really the greatest experience I have had.
Love hasn’t always been straightforward, but it has been omnipresent. As a child, my mother struggled to make ends meet. Sometimes she was a bit heavy handed from the stress, but she never gave up on us. She stayed the course until we had all grown up safely. Her commitment to care for her four children despite her crippling poverty was an act of love born from self-sacrifice. I told you several posts back about the time when we rode on the city bus and all the windows were smashed by a street gang that had run amok. In the chaos of flying glass and fist fighting, my mom stood up and screamed, “Don't you hurt my babies.” Although we were very young, we were smart enough to know that we should lay low and not draw attention to ourselves. We pulled on her sleeves to get her to crouch down and get out of sight. She was overcome with a determined to be the lioness that would protect her cubs. That was another act of love.
I don't think there's ever been a moment in my life when I haven't been loved. There was a time when I believed that I was alone and unloved but that was an illusion, a trick of insecurity that tried to trap me in a cycle of thought, which might have become my destruction if I had let it. Over the years, there were friends who made me laugh, shared a glass, and cheered me on as I climbed out of the well of poverty. They never judged me or said harsh words. Instead, they accepted me as I was. They were the friendly voice saying hello as I sat by the shore playing my didgeridoo, the homeless man in front of Hachiko who bought beers for everyone and danced as we played our music, the young strangers who invited me to their party in the park, the columbian who laughed so loud the clouds laugh too, the spirit guide with the curly moustache who showed me the way till I could make it on my own, the priest who traveled far to make it home, and so many more, all agents of love. I've sat in front of a bombed-out building in Berlin watching as unknown people waved me over to join them in wine and song. I've been embraced by a beautiful stranger turned lifelong friend who thought I was a bodyguard at club Earth. I have shared a bowl of traditional food with a Senegalese family in Paris, learned the phrase “Danke für dieses leckere Essen” to say thank you for this wonderful meal in Ober-Mörlen, danced the Ceilidh in Glasgow, drank rum out of freshly plucked coconut shells on Caye Caulker, and sat in a gazebo and told stories in Chagrin Falls. I have been invited on stage to sing song to millions. All of those moments were rich with love.
I've seen love in the world around me. On the road to Rochester from Cleveland, OH where aurora borealis danced like a ghostly curtain in the night sky so beautifully surreal it felt like dreaming. At the top of a canyon made water, the rush of Niagara Falls sang a baritone chorus as it came crashing to earth in misty crescendo. I have climbed to the top of a Mayan pyramid and stood where ancient priests once held their hands to the sky hoping for attention from the gods. Inside the great head of a Buddha, I looked with wonder at the crevices and nooks of history that could only be seen from within. I have held a lion cub in my hands and stroked his ears while it was still tame and unfamiliar with the thirst for the hunt. I've seen the sun rises over the ocean horizon on a cold New Year's Day and felt renewed as its rays bathed me. I have witnessed the sun setting on top of mount Fuji’s volcanic cone till it shone like a diamond on fire. With bottles of wine and a mind full of poems, I've sat under the warm snowfall of cherry blossoms in Spring. All of it was love.
I am and have always been wealthy with love. I am so grateful to the universe for it because it has made my life amazing. Without love, I might have been lost long ago.
If there's anyone within reading distance of this post who is feeling particularly alone and unloved, think deeply and look around. Is there anyone you've taken for granted or forgotten? Have you overlooked one love because you're waiting for another that may never come? I'll bet if you pause for a second and really pay attention, you'll find there's more love in your life than you may have previously realized.