“When I imagine myself as an old woman at the end of my life & ask myself how I will evaluate my time here, there is only one question: Did I love well? There are a thousand ways to love another & the world- with our touch, our words, our silences, our work, our presence. I want to love well. This is my hunger. I want to make love to the world by the way I live in it, by the way I am with myself &… others every day. So I seek to increase my ability to be with the truth in each moment, to be with what I know, the sweet & the sorrowful. . . . .And sometimes, I allow myself to imagine that each moment in which we love well by simply being all of who we are & being fully present allows us to give back something essential to the Sacred Mystery that sustains all life.” ~ Oriah from THE INVITATION
These words were penned by my friend Oriah Mountain Dreamer whose landmark poem, the Invitation continues to touch hearts 14 years after its release. It leapt out at me today from the computer screen and linked arms with another posting I read that posed the question “How do you want to be remembered?” My immediate answer was that when my bones are dedicated to the Earth, I want people to say that in my presence (literal or symbolic) they came away certain that they were loved. Being human (just confessing that these days, shedding the skin of the alien species that I thought I was since birth), my intentions don’t always match up with my actions, to which my son can vouch. I do sometimes use words that are not in my spiritual vocabulary and I do sometimes forget that not everyone (once again, ask my son:) meets my expectations, nor are they supposed to. Sure it would be easier if everyone did things ‘my way’, but being human themselves with their own needs and desires, it just ain’t gonna happen. And so I am learning to release expectations of how I want people to respond and just let be what is.
Not intending to sound morbid or overly somber, but I have lately been acutely aware that life happens at such a pace, and people come and go so quickly that I want to be mindful that each moment is precious and will never be seen again and that each person is of value and we never know when they will take their last breath.
How do people know that I love them? It used to be that I would at least attempt to meet their needs even before they asked, sometimes even before they knew what they were. I have come to put those behaviors in the recovering co-dependent basket and re-examine my motives. These days, demonstrations of love are far more clean and above board and involve being present as able when someone needs a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a pick my brain (whatever is left of it) session to gather resources, a compliment on something they did or said, an ‘atta girl’ or ‘atta boy’ to encourage them, hugs, hugs, hugs (one of my favorite ways), an unexpected “I’m thinking about you,” call or message, a ‘you matter to me and here’s why’ out loud statement since we all sometimes forget. I never want words of love to be left unsaid.
When you come to the end of your earthly existence, how do you want to be remembered?
The excerpt By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved