You’re about to read Chapter 44. Want to start this story from the beginning? Go here.
Okay so the title of this chapter nearly freaked me out, it’s so similar to a life motto I kinda thought I invented.
But I guess there are really no new ideas.
And anyway, my own personal directive to “let love lead” is not exactly the same as “let love live your life.”
But it is comfortably close.
Apparently some people care about their careers
The emphasis of Lesson 44 is that if we want to love to be in our lives, we need to consciously put our focus on love.
“If we made a commitment to develop our ability to love and be loved with the same level of focus and devotion that many of us give to our careers, most of us would become enlightened beings in no time,” says Katherine.
This line made me laugh out loud and write an additional haha in the margin. Because, as I also noted, I am, like, the opposite.
And it’s true. As far back in college I remember my girlfriends teasing me for caring so much about relationships when they were all hellbent on getting great jobs after graduation.
It’s not that I was opposed to getting a great job—I gamely followed protocol and moved to Manhattan and didn’t take too long to land one.
But I honestly would have been happy with an Mrs. degree.
I’m not particularly proud of that mindset. And I’m grateful that today I am as genuinely devoted to my professional goals as I am to my personal desires.
(Although, granted, at this point they are also somewhat intermixed.)
Still, I never have and probably never will prioritize career over love. That’s just not who I am—hence my commitment to a career that IS love.
So I didn’t identify with Katherine’s implication that we tend to dismiss the importance of actively cultivating love. Cultivating love is, like, all I’ve ever tried to do.
However, I haven’t always done so successfully, and Lesson 44 was a helpful refresher on making the most of what is currently available to me.
All we need is already within, be the person you want to find, and other cliched but accurate ideas
No disrespect to Katherine, but as I read through this lesson it did not feel like new material. I could have sworn that Lesson 43 covered the same themes, but whatever, it’s not like they don’t bear repeating.
And because I am again very tired, a la Lesson 42, I will let Katherine’s quotes do the summarizing:
-“Love is a state of being that odes not rest upon external circumstances.”
-“The truth is that the only things missing in our loves is the thing that we ourselves are not giving.”
-“Love itself is not interested in form. It is interested only in you expanding beyond yourself and your expectations to include whoever and whatever is in your life right now.”
-“It’s inauthentic to say that you want to be in a loving relationship if you have no interest in growing your capacity to love in general.”
-“Good relationships require a tremendous amount of generosity, kindness, compassion, and self-awareness.”
-“When we are willing to surrender ourselves to the qualities of love—compassion, forgiveness, graciousness, and kindness—we discover that we are never left void.”
-“It’s foolish to ask God for a great love without being willing to become a great lover.”
-“Buddha said, ‘You can look the whole world over and never find anyone more deserving of love than yourself.’”
Lesson 44 in practice
Full disclosure, today and the next couple are going to be tough when it comes to staying on top of my homework and these posts.
I woke up at 5am so I could make a train to Richmond, which is where my sister lives. Tomorrow we are driving to see the rest of my family in Raleigh, because Thursday is Thanksgiving.
In other words, I’ve had the last forty-three days pretty much all to myself, with ample time for reflection and writing.
This week, not so much.
This week, most of my attention is on my sweet baby niece, who is just over ten weeks old.
Right now, I am in the same guest room I stayed in the night she was born.
That evening I had the house to myself, and I cried and howled and keened, because I needed to and I could.
It had been close to three weeks since Paul walked away, and up until that day, I hadn’t been sure where we stood.
But the morning my niece was born, I was vulnerable and distressed and I reached out to Paul for support.
That was a mistake.
He was kind in his response but also doubled down on his request for space.
Which is how it came to be that, nineteen days after he left, I finally understood that Paul was gone.
In case you’ve ever wondered, joy and grief can absolutely coexist. Because on September 8, 2017, my heart shattered in two entirely different ways.
And now it is November 21, and I am in this space again, but I am not the same person.
Lesson 44 in practice, for real
I did not do the journaling exercises.
There were just too many prompts, too involved, too irksome.
Maybe I will revisit the assignment when I have more time, but for now I feel okay with skipping it.
I’m no stranger to introspection or to taking the high road, which is pretty much the point of the work for this lesson.
Basically I was supposed to write down the qualities I associate with love—which I’ll do right now: compassion, forgiveness, kindness, empathy, patience.
Then I was supposed to write down three situations in my life that are irritating to me—which I won’t do right now, because I can only think of two and both of them are small and neither are appropriate to mention publicly.
Next I was supposed to write down the names of people directly involved in those situations and also detail what my judgments are of those people. Again, not doing that here/now.
And finally, I was supposed to write a response to the question, “What would love (or any other quality you listed such as compassion, kindness, etc.) do now?”
So, you know, I’m not saying the exercise wouldn’t benefit me.
I’m just saying that already, all the frickin time, I’m actively working to respond from a place of love instead of judgment.
(One of my life mottos is “Let love lead,” remember?)
Which means that, many times each day, I catch myself with unkind thoughts and shift them to blessings instead.
Because if the question is “What would love do?,” I want my actions to be the answer.
Love > fear,
Want to know what happens next? Proceed to Chapter 45.