To friends that are close with me, I say that my purpose in this life is unconditional love. But that statement is such a short cliff note of what I truly mean. First of all, I think saying that I have a purpose is like saying a single ant’s purpose is to build a colony for it’s queen. When from a grander perspective, ants as a whole, aerate the soil so water and nutrients can flow directly to plant roots, they serve as food for birds and lizards, and they distribute seeds by storing them in their tunnels.
I don’t know what my humanly purpose is much like an ant doesn’t know what his ant-ly purpose is. However, I do think what I choose to focus on here is important and my focus is unconditional love.
Nine years ago, when I realized that I wouldn’t make the kind of money I needed as a photojournalist, I was heartbroken. I had $23,000+ in student loan debt and I lived in California, one of the most expensive states in the U.S.. I didn’t want to move back home and I was freelancing for (sometimes) 90 hours a week to pay my bills. I lived comfortably, which was a step up from being homeless. Something I also experienced for a month straight out of college. I was grateful for the roof, the food, the work – but I was also alone in my apartment every single day for a year.
After I ‘gave up my dream of becoming a photojournalist,’ I realized that I could look at things in three different ways:
- That I gave up my ‘dreams’ and my ‘purpose’ and I sold out.
- That I chose a career that provided me financial security, while I could still pursue my passions in life: photography & journalism.
- That I can dream, that I can envision a pursuit for my life. Acknowledge that gift, and realize I can do anything else I want and it can change at any time.
I chose the third. (And a little bit of the second). Once I realized that my career, and my financial well-being were not determining who I was or what I wanted to represent, that freed me up to dream even bigger. And believe me, as someone who has spent 9 years dedicating her life to unconditional love – this is the biggest thing I can think of still to this day. And that brings me to my next point. What’s so important about unconditional love?
The reason why I chose this as my study and my important life’s work is to receive an endless and infinite answer. Love, time, and the universe are pretty much all I think about. They’re definitely all I write about and my poetry can’t seem to find anything else to grip on to. I tried writing a poem about a day in the life of my cat and that turned into a love poem too.
Unconditional love is a daily practice. I have to give it to myself, try to receive it from the world, bestow it to others – even to people that I may be mad at for not using their blinker. Seriously though, it’s so easy, I just don’t understand.
Sometimes unconditional love means boundaries. Sometimes it means ending a really loving, authentic and genuinely happy relationship because you know you aren’t right for each other and you’re enabling your partner. Sometimes it means saying goodbye to your dad every day so you can love yourself and heal. Sometimes it means ending friendships because they aren’t healthy for you. Sometimes it means being honest and admitting something you don’t like about yourself. Sometimes it means putting your cat to sleep because she has diabetes and is about to go unconscious into a coma.
Sometimes you have to receive it, even if you don’t feel worthy. Sometimes it feels too beautiful and too good to be given to you. But sometimes, it’s easy though, too. It’s all around and ready to be felt and absorbed and accepted and then churned inside of you to be handed over like a gift to passersby. It’s in the sound of the wind, the dancing fall of the yellow leaf, the mother gently caressing the soft cheek of her young baby and the woman pushing her elderly dog in a stroller.
Sometimes unconditional love is selflessness, and other times it’s compassion. Every day it reveals itself in a new, beautiful and expansive form. Every day I learn something new about people, about myself and about my important life’s work. One day I will even figure out the words to describe what I’ve learned. Until then, I’ll just write love poems.
You are the first name I hear upon waking,
The wind dancing in my hair.
When the sun turns gold
And the light feels old,
I hear you once more.