I have received many thoughtful get-well gifts this past fall. One of my music students gave me a Tulsi tea that is so subtle and perfect right now. Tulsi is also called “Holy Basil” and an herb my daughter once grew in our backyard. I’m having trouble drinking and eating much and this particular variety of Tulsi from DiviniTea called “Soul” is all I want.
A particular story from a magazine keeps looping through my thoughts. I honestly can’t remember what the article was about, but the woman writing it told a story about a friend of hers, and that story has stuck. Here it is:
A man she knows was an amazing athlete. Then he had a terrible accident and became paraplegic. After years of determination he became an athlete again. And then had yet another accident and became quadriplegic. At this point he had some dark times, but he came out of it with a profound realization that his true purpose in life was to love everyone.
In light of my recent struggles and personal insights, I wondered about how it took this man becoming a quadriplegic to find his calling in life. And then I wondered if what he realized was true for all of us. What if our only purpose in life was to love one another, and what if I fully lived that truth without having to go through a terrible tragedy?
Now this isn’t an explanation for “why bad things happen to good people”. I firmly believe that life is unfair and we will never, never, never, never understand why. I also believe that humans are propelled to make sense out of everything, and when something bad happens, we will replay it over and over trying to find patterns and fit it into a neat view of the world. Did you know that earworms (when a song gets stuck in your head) are caused by not knowing the full song perfectly? And if you can get through the entire earworm from start to finish in your mind, it usually goes away? Unfortunately, bad events often don’t have a logical, linear trajectory that led to your pain, and there is no satisfactory ending. The other way to get rid of an earworm is to start singing a new song.
What if loving everyone was my only job in life? What if all this searching for meaning and purpose in work was missing the point? What if I embraced that physically poor man’s epiphany for myself? What if every interaction with everyone I meet was about loving them? What if they are mean?
Anyway, I’ve been trying to do this for the past few weeks. When I remember, it’s quite relaxing. If my real job is to love everyone, than my other jobs are just side-hustles. That took the worry out of much of my constant, “now that my children are grown, what is my life’s purpose?!” thoughts. While in a crowd, it makes me listen and notice more. When with people I already love, I am filled with gratitude, compassion, and for some reason, amusement.
I wonder if maybe the man got into those accidents specifically to tell his story to that woman who then wrote about it in a magazine which I read so I could then share my take on it here so that someone might read it and…what? I don’t know. But that kind of thinking will keep spiraling with no final cadence. Instead, I will compose my thoughts into a simple and beautiful melody of love.
Move with intention.