What’s Love Got to Do With It?
By Peggie Arvidson
“When we see love as the will to nurture one’s own or another’s spiritual growth, revealed through acts of care, respect, knowing, and assuming responsibility, the foundation of all love in our life is the same. There is no special love exclusively reserved for romantic partners. Genuine love is the foundation of our engagement with ourselves, with family, with friends, with partners, with everyone we choose to love.”
― bell hooks
Is then, love, or rather loving, the meaning of life? If so, why is it so hard to find meaning day in and day out. It should be rather easy to show up and love, and yet, at least for me, it’s pretty complicated.
I spent most of my 40s looking for meaning and purpose. I discovered hand analysis. I reignited my interest in astrology and tarot and I found wonderful teachers to help me access my guides, my crossed-over loved ones and my angels. While I’d been practicing yoga off and on in my late thirties, a more consistent practice, beyond the physical asanas became part of my life through my 4th decade.
Learning these things did not lead me, as I had hoped, to a life of ease and perpetual goodness. I was going to say that learning these things didn’t lead me to a life of love or purpose. However, that’s not entirely true.
Through the practice of showing up and paying attention purpose walked alongside me every step of the way. My belief in the meaning of a life’s purpose has changed though. I no longer believe that you have ONE PURPOSE and that you must take action on it or miss out on your chance for enlightenment.
What I know now is that purpose is the act of showing up, aware, in every moment. Being kind and serving others no matter who they are, what they look like or, (and this is the hard one) who they choose to vote for is the purpose of my life. I suspect your purpose is similar.
Knowing that I can be on purpose working for a corporation, volunteering for my community or holding space for a dying parent is liberating. No more hunting for the ONE thing. No more worrying that I’m doing LIFE wrong. Sure, there are days that I’d like a mulligan or two. Times when I wasn’t as kind as I like and days when I said and did things that made me less than proud of myself – and still I forge on.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get to be present through life escaping and life blooming. Nature gives us plenty of opportunity to learn about cycles of life and death. However, paying attention we see, through Nature, that life is ongoing. Blooms fade, trees crumble, mountains shift and rivers dry out AND there is still more coming to fill the void. Recognizing that there is only life is a relief.
Have you ever observed the miracle of someone transitioning from this lifetime to another? Have you ever had the spiritual moment of being present for a human entering this world? In those moments, you get a glimmer of the magnitude of love that ties it all together. We are all tied together through love.
What does it mean to you and me in a practical fashion? This focus on nurturing one another’s spiritual growth? It means to show up and be present. To hold focus on whatever it is that lies beneath the surface and trust that it is moving you to where you’re meant to be in that moment. This is the place where it gets tricky, I’ve found. The point is to be still when you most want to be DOING something. To make a difference in life seems to require deep stillness. In the stillness there is NOT nothingness, as we’ve been conditioned to believe. In stillness is the work of the soul, stirring below and around and within the space. Just as roots are lengthening and sap is pulsing in the winter for the growth of spring, so is the beating of our meaning when we agree to the cosmic contract to sit still and observe. Not with our head in the sand, but head on, eye to eye, unblinking with the soul before us, whether that is our own reflection in the mirror or the eyes of a stranger or a long beloved human. (Lately I’ve begun to see that all those I come across are, in fact, a reflection of the self I believe to be.)
As the winter comes, I wish you the space you need to love deeply into your purpose.