When I first heard Leo Buscaglia speak, I was a freshman in college. His personality was so large, that no matter what he said, it was filled with life and joy and I couldn't help but love him...and he spoke mainly about that very thing: love.
A college professor, he once told a story about a class he taught: LOVE 1A. It made me laugh. Being a freshman, I was taking every 1A class there was: Algebra 1A, English Literature 1A, etc., etc. It was a way of the University saying "Since we're assuming you don't have a good working knowledge of this subject, we will give you one."
Buscaglia told the 20 students he began the course with that he was going to "encourage learning how to love". Most of them stayed for the full semester, not earning any college credit. The class soon became USC's most popular course, with a waiting list of 600. College freshmen, dying to learn how to love. Many disconnected, just trying to make it through the day. The concept of Love 1A opened the eyes of the world. Can a human being be taught how to love other human beings?
Love is a wide, deep, tall subject that has more facets than a diamond. It is a moving ocean, with rules and people changing places constantly, with very few benchmarks of success. Many people who consider themselves experts on love are usually accompanied by large, painful failures and wide open, bleeding scars where those they loved have hurt them. Such "experts" choose to love and love again - open wounds and scars and all.
I have been too blessed in my life with love. When I think of how much I have loved in my life, I get tears in my eyes. I was raised by loving parents, surrounded by loving siblings, committed (and lost) my heart to more than one or two boys that made me feel stupid and weak, so deep was my love for them.
In the shadows, and almost as a balance, I can say that I have also experienced darkness and hopelessness. I had years of just barely making it... knowing I would never find true love, and been swallowed by a hopelessness that made me feel hollow and dark and cold and helpless and wrung out. For some reason, in the darkest place, I was shown the most excellent love: the love of God, which defies description. All I can say is that it made me realize He was real...and that He is love.
I had a child, a son, with black hair and blue eyes, and who looked at me and instantly showed me what love was. I loved him so deeply that it shattered my soul; he loved me so much that I felt I had purpose.
I was given Mario, who I married and loved with everything in me. Even so, the tight-rope walk of loving someone so desperately felt precarious, and I was filled with aching insecurities because I wasn't super-model material...and he was. He came with two boys, who gave me a chance in their lives and I was so grateful, even though I knew they hoped that their parents would reunite...and I ached for them in their disappointment, in a way that didn't fit in my happiness to be married to their father. I loved their hope and spark and wanted us all to be family without any issues, but felt the strange ache of half-ness that comes with blended families and step-mothering.
We had a daughter together that stole my heart and I thought I would explode in my happiness and inside I was desperate to be on steady ground, be the perfect mother that they would love forever and ever...
My parents, my siblings, my children, my husband...as if I could explode with love already, I was given Africa to love. I looked into faces of children who ached for connection and orphans with hope and widows who searched for the best thing this world has to offer: love. Working alongside of my heroes and my friends and my family here who loves me and laughs at me and takes me seriously and rejoices in my purposefulness.
Each day my heart grows. That's what love does to a heart, doesn't it? As I write, I understand the unpredictable losses and grief that gut us and make us want to die and be done with this heart... are balanced by the joy-filled, sparkly, outstanding surges of cartwheels that only love can bring.
Love has made me cry when I've realized that a person I love hates me in a way. I've grieved openly in a train when I realized that my grandmother was gone for real, and the tears were inspired by the love we shared. Love has made me stay here even though there is so much love there.
My purpose in life is to love....
What is yours?
What is yours?
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?""Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
From The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."