We humans come into the world hardwired for love. Babies lovingly hold their caregivers’ gaze, seeding an intimacy that, if nourished, will last a lifetime. As we move on in life, we are given many opportunities to form loving relationships with others, from romantic attachments to deep friendships to love of places, pursuits and the more-than-human world.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to value love as the antidote to all that’s wrong with our world. “All you need is love,” sang the Beatles in the Sixties, and they were right! But let’s widen our understanding of love to include not just the passion we feel for a lover, but also the deep caring we feel for our parents, children and other relatives; our friends and our pets; the emotional bond we can have with a beloved place; and the love we may have for an activity or a pleasurable intellectual pursuit.
These days, my life is full of love. Love swells my heart as I revisit my favorite beach, the one with the long empty curve of white sand and smooth round rocks cradling the dark blue waves of the Atlantic Ocean. My love for my parents continues unabated since childhood, deepening now as we age and I am forced to reckon with the partings on the horizon. I adore my grown sons, admiring the handsome, loving men they have become and all the good they offer to the world.
I love my work of writing: the slow steady process of putting a word after a word on the page and watching the ideas take form and shape as I go along. I love helping other writers to manifest their visions, through my teaching, coaching and the small press I co-founded with a friend to help get more voices out into the world. I love sitting in circle with people of all ages, sharing our ideas and emotions in a warm atmosphere of mutual trust and respect.
Of course, there are moments when I wish never to type another word! Moments when I don’t want to be with anyone,not even those I love. But such fallow, quiet moments can serve to remind us of who and what we most value. When I was a child, the time I was forced to spend in the city crystallized my awareness of how much I loved being in the country; and in just this way, we’re reminded of how precious our loving connections are by time spent apart.
In this month’s Alchemy of Purposeful Memoir session, we’ll explore the potent question: who and what have you truly loved?