Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Long Blog on Love

Do you ever wake up and wonder: “What have I been doing with my life?”

I’ve been waking up with that question a lot lately. I’m 28 years old, it’s been 10 years since I graduated high school, 5 years since I graduated college and a whole series of failed “big-hope” dreams along the way. What do I have to show for my 28 years? What meaningful things have I accomplished?


This isn’t about a career. What is a career anyway except a way to pay for things? It’s also not about earning more money. What can I do with more money except find more ways to spend it now or later? For me, every time I wake up and lie there staring up at the ceiling and wondering whether or not to get out of bed, it’s about wanting to do more, give more, be more.

When I was 7 or 8, I would dream up pretend lives for the plastic “Little People” farms, bringing whole sagas to life for hours at a time. In high school, I started writing fiction because I wanted to escape into stories I couldn’t live. Four years ago, I started cooking because I was really unhappy with my career and really lost in who I was. And now I've started this blog to do something more yet again: I don't want to just wake up, go to work, come home, do chores, go to sleep and wait for the alarm to remind me to start all over again. I want more.

But what would “doing more” or “giving more” or “being more” actually involve? What am I missing?
  • Volunteer Work: I could get involved somewhere, maybe even with something food related. I could be making a difference in someone else’s life and it wouldn’t be about me or my life. That would be a healthy and welcome change. And it would take me out of my comfort zone. 
  • Giving Back: I guess this could be the same as volunteering, but it wouldn’t have to be. I could give back monetarily to charitable organizations, buy items to contribute to drives or even contribute needed skills for worthy causes. But I too frequently want to find the easy way out instead of leaving my comfort zone, so rather than sending a check, I should probably stick with volunteering. 
  • Interest Groups: I could join a fiction writing group, a reading group (although I’d never be able to keep up), a cooking group or a Bible group (if I could find one I meshed well with). In general, I hate networking - it’s like diving into a pack of hungry, self-interested pariahs circling the career drain. But joining a group with common interests might not be so bad. Hopefully I could make a friend or two so it’s not just about the writing or cooking or reading. 
  • Honesty: I find it really hard to open up to other people honestly. I get embarrassed about things that make me different, I get afraid that people might not like the person they end up discovering, or I don’t know what to talk about so I keep silent entirely. But honest communication is something that could let me “be more” than what I’ve been. 
  • Faith: I know this post is starting to morph into a beast ENTIRELY unrelated to food, but I say that all of this stuff does relate back because it’s all related to love. And if I can’t get love right (i.e. how to love myself and love others) then I really can’t get food right. So it’s all connected so if you’re getting bored, skip down to the part where I talk about food. But right now, I want to talk about faith.

    Everyone has their own personal drama with faith at some point. Mine has been building for years and I doubt I’ve reached the crescendo, but yesterday was certainly a full orchestral moment. Anyone who knows me well knows there is one area of my faith that is in stark opposition to the moral foundations of most established religions/faiths. I’ve gone round and round trying to sort out my faith, trying to make sense of what I believe and trying to make it fit with my life - all while trying not to. Confused? So was (am) I.

    But I’m not as confused now. I haven’t been granted an answer to my great dilemma, but in the end, it doesn’t make a difference anyway. Love is still love, God is still God, and faith is still faith. Sacrifice all, give up my life and take my cross - whatever I am given along the way is just a temporary pleasantry. So while I still want to know the answer, I do not have to try to find a specific answer.

    I’m very open about my faith, so if you’re confused and think I might be in need to a sanity check, Tweet or Facebook or comment me. 
  • Love More: Love could cover almost anything, but I guess what I really mean is finding more opportunities to show love. Actually, I think that sums up the whole “do more, be more, give more” pretty well. Finding opportunities might be sharing more food-related blogs, volunteering, joining a group (to contribute), working on honesty, building my faith, etc. Ok, just scrap this whole post and let's start with this paragraph: Love More sums it all up. It’s not naive or simplistic or idealistic - I genuinely believe my desire to do more, give more and be more would be satisfied by finding opportunities to love more.
So why has it taken so long to get to “love more”?

When I first started writing this blog, I admitted I sometimes don’t know where I’m going with a post until I get there. I want to blog unfiltered. So that’s what happened today - just an outpouring that eventually worked it’s way here. But I think it’s valuable: the words “love more” wouldn’t mean much even to me if I hadn’t gone through stuff like volunteering, honesty and faith.

But getting around to finding time to seek out opportunities to demonstrate love is a big challenge. A lot of days, I’m burned out and frustrated by the time I get home and just getting dinner together is a miracle. Other days I feel sorry for myself and do even less. And then there are the power days when I’m out to conquer life - hi, that’s today.

But power days are really “love” days. Those are the days when I’m focused, checked-in and locked-on to love. Love creates more energy, more time, more patience, more pleasure. Love compels action. So on “love” days, I feel invigorated, empowered, excited and happy. On love days, I seek out opportunities to do more, give more, be more.

If I sound like a simplistic hippie, answer me this: what, besides love, motivates you to do anything?

So that means more cooking (with love), more volunteering (with love), more writing (with love), more honesty (...), more faith (...) - I’m fired up today and that’s good because today I didn’t wake up and ask myself “What am I doing with my life?” The answer is revealing itself...



6 comments:

  1. we all go through this kinda thing man, hell, this weekend was a roller-coaster ride for me too. as for faith, you don't need religion to have faith - God didn't start religions, man did - and God doesn't belong to any of them either! for me, religion is a tool - one i enjoy working with, one i'm glad to be part of - but it's not for everyone. peace, Al

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  2. Nice post. True, God didn't create religion. If one wants religion, then they should take care of widows and orphans. What God does want, is a personal relationship with him through his son Jesus. Like it or not, he wants us to fit our life into him, not him into our life. He will answer your dilemma if he is put first and foremost.

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  3. Re: faith. There is no more explicit message in the Bible (for Christians) than to love and aid the poor, the powerless, and the marginalized. It was Christ's radical message, and it is the best possible expression of faith in Jesus. All the things you suggest in your blog -- loving more, helping more, (and doing those things openly and in spite of what hypocrites say about who deserves that love and aid) -- are sign posts on the way to a good Christian life. That having been said, you might also consider examining the teachings of the Buddha: Buddhism specifically allows for its integration, and practice in concert, with other religions, and you might find its reflective, meditative, and less judgmental nature helpful to you in your exploration of faith. I have a Buddhist friend I could put you in touch with who would be happy to know you and help.

    Re: getting out of bed in the morning. I am SO EXCITED for school to be over soon, and I have decided not to work over the summer. I cannot wait to try all the things I've been wanting to do but can't because I have to do the things I have to do. I am going to learn how to sew, I am going to read the Bible, I am going to start blogging again, I am going to work on growing plants, I am going to read for pleasure, I might even start like, moving around a little: right now my exercise is walking from my house to the car, from my car to school, from school to lunch, from school to my car, and from my car to my house, which is probably the opposite of good for me. And I'm going to learn to bake, dammit! I got cake pans and cooling racks for my birthday!

    The point is, I have to wait until I'm not working to do all of this, and how many people can not work? It can be impossible to do the things that would fulfill ourselves because of all we have to do to support ourselves, so don't be too hard on yourself if you feel like you're just existing -- sometimes that's all you can do.

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  4. thanks for the support from everyone. feeding orphans, caring for widows, give away all my possessions to the poor, and laboring for the lord - i would like to do this. maybe i should think about a program like the peace corp...

    tolerance is not so much my issue any more. i don't need anyone anywhere to accept me or tolerate me - i only need to be right with god. it is a personal relationship with jesus - but i don't want it to be a personalized-to-fit-me relationship. and good news is, i don't have to wait for an answer b/c like i said yesterday, the answer doesn't matter. i am happy either way...

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  5. It is important to PRACTICE tolerance though. And I find that I need to remind myself of that: frequently. The fact that you (or I) might reject the need to feel approved of or at least tolerated by others - cause fuck what other people think, seriously - doesn't change the importance of practicing tolerance of others ourselves. And no matter how good of a liberal one thinks one is ... Ghetto House down the street and my feelings towards it alone are enough to make me realize I'm a pretty shitty person. It's good, at least, for me to be aware of this shittiness, and to know that I need to practice the tolerance I don't necessarily care to receive from others.

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  6. i agree with you, and this is semantics but i prefer to think of tolerance as love - i know i'm all hung up on that word. but if i have love in me and that love is what guides me, then out of love for the person, i can still value them as a human even if i feel deep revulsion for what they may represent.

    i say "i can still value" if i love, but this is an ideal i strive towards. because sometimes (a certain female ex-governor comes to mind) i cannot find the value for someone. and that's when i have to do as you say: recognize the shittiness inside and buckle down on practicing love...

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