No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Two of my uncles both died at 38 years of age, a few years apart. One was older than the other. One of the two I was quite close to growing up. They both lived with us, my family, at different points in my childhood. It turned out the one that lived with us during my 6th and 7th grade years was very important to my development as a person, and to me as an individual too. I loved him. Eventually, he had to move out, and then later died, because he returned to drinking in an uncontrollable fashion. In a way that destroyed his life.

I'll confess something. I wonder, occasionally, if any of that could have changed simply by them being loved harder, more clearly, unconditionally by someone. Not in the sense that that someone would have done what wasn't good for themselves. Or gotten sucked into what was bad with the drinking. Or enabled the drinker. Or anything unfortunate like that. More in the sense that, I wonder if loving a person with a more-or-less clear vision of who they are--of how they struggle, of where their failings begin to creep in, of where they excel and open to beauty-- holding this very clear sense of who they are, and making clear to that person those things are seen, and yet also making clear to them those things can be handled, those things can be planned for or around, those things can be felt and be lived past-- In such a subtle way shining to them love in the midst of all that clear vision maybe would mean something different in how their lives turned up, of the strength they found in themselves, of how they felt those struggles and faced them. A way of saying--I see the honesty of who you are. I love you in it. I see that you are quite capable of living even as you feel difficulty in living.

I don't mean this in any kind of sense like those that were closer to them should have done it differently, or could have.

I have friends that I worry about much of the time. That I love. Whose time I enjoy sharing. Who make me smile and make me feel loved. And whose future, as we could imagine it, I worry about. Whose future I want to love back into semblance, even they haven't actually lived it yet. Which is to say that I want them to begin to imagine a bright(er) future for themselves, because what I'm scared I see in them is the picture of a less-hoped-for future.

And, if I'm really honest, whose shared-time I want to open fully to, to love more presently because something about the way I worry about them reveals to me the emanate loss that loving someone always holds. I must be open to it now. I must as fully-as-possible love them now; because I have no idea what will come later, because I fear what might happen later. In that way, my love for them might be defined by an anticipation of a loss I could suffer over them. Not that the feared loss is all that the love happens to be. But that because of the fear of loss, my heart is even more willing to open to the possibility of the time I share with them now. To put it simply, I become unwilling to take any of my time with them for granted.

Here's another confession that is likely obvious by now: for me relationships are much of what is important in the world; not the only thing that is important, but the venue through much of what is important occurs. When I say "relationships", I mean, how we interact with people generally.

What else can I say after saying any of this?

I want to love my friends full and clear and strong. I want to love people I barely know--not in the sense that I would my friends, perhaps, but in the sense that I see a person as a unique life, irreplaceable by any other. I want to be passionate, committed in that passion, to my own life. I believe Camus when he says this (life) is all we've got.

So, I will let he who is more eloquent speak for me:

We know of only one duty, and that is to love.

I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day.

You cannot acquire experience by making experiments. You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.

If there is a great sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing for life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.

1 comment:

  1. "We only know of one duty, and that is to love"

    Thank you :)