This I Believe

Ann - yellow springs, Ohio
Entered on December 3, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in the power of love. Ok, I can already hear you collectively sighing. Nothing new here, right? And it is true, I do not think I have anything additional to offer on the topic, more eloquent or meaningful than John Lennon or Jimi Hendrix, and one could sing and the other play wicked good guitar. I lack both capacities. But for me, it has become a personal revelation that I managed to eek out despite my cynical, sarcastic earlier life. My hubris kept me from even considering how love could play a role in my everyday life, beyond my feelings and acts related to family and close friends. And I am embarrassed to say that it took me until middle age to get that simple fact, one that all the world’s religions actually agree upon, the strength, beauty, unity and awesome power we have to love each other. I thought all I had to do to be good was to be good to the people who were nice to me, or somehow related. It took a near tragic event in my life to start to consider what I needed to change in my life. I had to admit I didn’t have all the answers, and that perhaps listening to other people who had suffered as much or more than myself might have some wisdom I could learn. It took years before I started to get the message that comes so easily to others.

In this group. I learned to start caring about total strangers. In my daily life, this began to translate to asking the question of myself “What is the most loving thing I can do?” I am particularly challenged to stop myself before I gesture obscenely to the driver of the BMW who just cut me off, or glare at the old woman in front of me in line at the grocery counting out what seems to be a hundred and one pennies for her single can of cat food. The answer almost always challenges me to relate more intimately to that person, see him or her as something other than a deliberate obstacle, irritation, or annoyance added purposefully by the universe in order to further complicate my oh so important, busy day.

My decisions to work toward predicating my life on love are not going to change the world. No kidding. What it does is to make me more mindful of my choices during the day, the importance of each person who has been placed in my path, and change my experience of my day, and the people I encounter in it. Do I perform this perfectly? Do I remember my resolution each day? No, but when I work toward being my best self, and with grace, practice and care, I can come closer to my ideal. I like what is happening. I don’t miss my more impatient, self righteous self. My working towards living in love, I realize that I can’t make other drivers more courteous, or regulate the other customers at the grocery. I am responsible for my own attitudes, and all I can really change is myself.