“And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make.” – The Beatles
These are the lyrics that came to mind this afternoon on my way home from a friend’s memorial service while thinking about what I might write this evening. They followed after recalling the comments of a favorite poet reflecting on death. He notes that what ultimately brings those who grieve together is recounting memories of the things the deceased person loved. I can’t quote exactly as I don’t remember the specific source, but my own take on this is that the only thing we really have to leave behind of any value is love.
In the last few months I have witnessed the passing of too many, both people and animals, close to me either through friendship or kinship. Grief has been a teacher. It doesn’t go away just because I’d rather feel differently. And for my friends and family members grieving, there seems to be nothing I can do other than to stand by and honor the way they need to deal with these losses. What is clear is that through these experiences what we retain of our relationships with those who are no longer with us is love. And to follow on my thoughts from yesterday about value; the value we place on what we do and who we are in life; and how we ascribe value; the question I have is, how can we use any measure other than love? And how can we possibly measure another’s experience of love? How is it that we have such a difficult time just “being”, and spend so much time “doing” in order to fulfill some elusive idea of value which lies hidden in the mysteries of love?
I can’t answer those questions at 11:54 pm. And I probably won’t get this posted by midnight, so my version of today will end up being tomorrow… January 10. I guess there will be two January 10ths in my version of reality TV. I wonder how many times that will happen in the course of this 365 day journey…
It seems perfectly appropriate that the photographs I took today were landscapes. When I was in first college, I enrolled in business classes thinking that I should be a business major so I could get a good job. I hated them. One day my father, after listening to me complain, said, “Do what you love because you will do a better job of it.” And, “I would much rather hire someone who knows how to learn than someone who’s learned a bunch of stuff.” I switched tracks and ended up with degrees in French Literature, which I enjoyed every moment of. I have always remembered those words, but I was young and didn’t see the big picture until later. A number of years ago, in a jewelry workshop, I had an instructor who said, “Make the thing that makes your heart beat faster”. It struck me that what he was referring to was really one of the great lessons in life. Since then, I have often heard those words in my ears, but now I translate them as “DO the thing that makes your heart beat faster”. To further translate, “Do the thing that you love”. Its come full circle, but now I “get it”. I have a thing for mountains, they make my heart beat faster. I shoot lots of photographs of mountains. This one is not a “photographer’s photo”. It wasn’t shot within an hour of sunrise or sunset. Its just an ordinary mid-afternoon view of our beloved Mt. Rainier, the mountain that I look at almost every day as I walk my dogs. It always makes my heart beat faster. I brought my camera today because this was the window of time I had to take Sherlock and Cody out for a walk and shoot something for my blog (I discovered that you can click on the photo to enlarge it if you want to see it better). I shot photos of the sun shining through curls of birch bark and glowing moss on forked branches. I shot a photo of a couple picnicking at the end of path on a bench with the mountains in the background, but in the end, I had to post the thing that makes my heart beat faster. Not the “best” photo maybe, but the one of the view that feeds my soul.
Today, as I sat listening to stories about my friend’s life, I heard stories about what she loved. Leaving the service, the friends and family who had arrived in ones and twos left together, bonded by the shared experience of our friend’s love for us and by the stories we heard about what else she loved. En route to the reception, we got a bit lost and found ourselves on an upper skybridge looking out over Puget Sound instead of the lower skybridge which led to the elevator. I didn’t have my camera, but the view was so beautiful that I had to see what I could do with my Blackberry.
When I started writing this blog earlier this week, I thought I was writing about being a stay-at-home mom and finding value in that role. I thought I was writing about learning to honor the mundane in life as highly as those moments and things which are more often considered interesting and exciting. I think I’m still writing about that same journey, but I believe that the stay-at-home mom “lens” is only one lens. I had a conversation early this morning with a young male friend which convinced me that my role, with its lens, has its pitfalls, but it would be narrow-minded and perhaps arrogant of me to think that I, and even we (stay-at-home moms) struggle more than others with questions about our self-worth when we place ourselves in the context of our culture with its emphasis on “doing” and “having” rather than “being”.