LOVE- The Story of a Life, of Any Life
It’s time to write about LOVE. I haven’t written about it for some time, although this blog is a labor of love, and both the ‘Mommy’ and the ‘Mystic’ part of ‘Mommy Mystic’ are all about love. Certainly love is the only thing that keeps parents going some days, fueling us through tantrums and stomach flus, missed curfews and rebellions. And perhaps the only teaching mystics from all the world’s traditions can agree on is that love is the essence of our being, and that all the individual loves we experience in our lives – parents, children, partners, friends – are like refractions from a prism, brightening and focusing this essence for us.
I wanted to write about love this week because it’s been about three months since my friend and student Matt passed unexpectedly in June, and his 31st birthday would have been a few days ago. His entire life and path oriented around love, and his parents and friends have started a foundation in his honor, highlighting this. I haven’t written much about him here because I didn’t think it was my place. But the timing feels right now, and I think this foundation is a beautiful idea and would like to help publicize it (and for you Stumblers out there, I have stumbled it, please click through and add your thumbs-up to do so too if you like.)
As you’ll read on the foundation site, on one level Matt wasn’t subtle about his mission. He was a huge Dave Matthews Band fan, and years ago when attending a concert (a common event – his family found 78 DMB ticket stubs in his safe) he got the inspiration to make a big sign that simply said ‘LOVE’. With a friend’s help he did so, and held it up for the entire concert. He did that at every concert he attended after that. After his death his friends and family contacted Dave Matthews, who remembered Matt and his sign well, and dedicated a concert to him (you can hear the audio on the foundation site). In addition, many fans who had never personally met Matt began to hear of his passing and remembered his sign, and one has made a beautiful photo collection featuring it. (One of the foundation’s main fundraisers is pins and stickers with his LOVE logo on it.)
Matt’s sign was a wonderful, fun way that he demonstrated his connection to love, and what I particularly like about this act is its fearlessness. He didn’t care what anyone thought of him and his sign. He wanted to stand for love, so he did it. And this fearlessness was one of his defining characteristics on his spiritual journey too. He was willing to face any part of himself in his quest to know love at the core of his being, and in his mission to bring that through him out into the world. He was willing to question, to see the shadows, and to abandon the walls so many of us build in the name of self-protection, but which so often block us from the love inside us instead. In that he was unusual, especially for one so young – he seemed to know that he didn’t have much time. I had never seen someone radiate out so much love when meditating, and he was largely unaware of it. Again, it was fearless. Love is the antidote for fear, love is courage.
Matt did all this quietly however – even his sign was not something I personally heard him talk much about. In daily interactions, he lived love in smaller ways, in little kindnesses, which of course is where the rubber really meets the road. He would crack a joke to relax others, stay late to clean up the room after a class, be the first to volunteer to rent a car on retreats. And when speaking with friends and co-workers after his passing, I learned of so many other little ways Matt lived love in his daily life – sitting with a woman who had just had a minor car accident outside his work until the paramedics arrived, comforting the friend of a friend who was distraught at a party, cleaning out the work refrigerator, giving up birthday presents and asking his family to give to charity instead.
I don’t want to give the impression that Matt was some sort of holier-than-thou type walking amongst us. He was a normal twenty-something, with an apartment and a sales job, who loved to play touch football on the beach and hang out at bars with his friends (and go to DMB concerts of course.) But that is exactly the point. As much as I love to write about history’s ‘saints’ and ‘masters’ and ‘mystics’, whether our name is ever written down or remembered as theirs was is obviously not the point. We are each part of a fabric of love, a thread in the weave amongst our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, blog-commenters and even Twitter followers. And what we radiate out impacts every single one of them, impacts the entire fabric, and that in turn impacts their fabric, and so on and so on. The way Matt’s life is rippling out and generating changes and insights amongst every one who knew him (and many who didn’t) is truly awesome, and the best use of any life, in my view.
I also don’t think love is necessarily the driving orientation of everyone’s spiritual quest either, although it’s always the destination. In Matt’s case, they happened to align. In my own, I would say I have been more driven by a quest for truth, on many levels. And I think people orient through all different themes – peace, joy, power, stillness, compassion, wisdom, knowledge. But they all lead to love. Truth and love are the same, power and love are the same. Sometimes they appear in contrast at the relative level we live on, in the realm of action and ideas. But ultimately, they all come together, and that may be another thing all the world’s mystics could agree on.
So there you go, the story of a life, the lesson of a life, and in a way the story and lesson of all our lives. In honor of Matt, try to live the love inside you today, bring it forth in some small way, out into the world, instead of leaving it dormant inside you. Face down the shadows, the problems, the irritations, all the things your mind tries to tell you are more pressing than love. There is nothing more pressing.
And if you like, in the comments (which I live for) share your own thoughts on love – in life, in meditation, in religion or spirituality, in any context you like. Or share the memory or story of someone in your own life that has taught you what love really means. As always, thank you for reading. Namaste-