Sunday, April 29, 2012

4/30/12—Loving Like You Were Dying

Today's Draw: The One of Water from the Today's Journey Tarot. Who or what do you love unconditionally....meaning no matter what they to to you or others? Do you think unconditional love is something reserved just for family members, or just for certain types of family members? How different would your life be if you were able to open your to more people without condition?

This One of Water (Ace of Cups) depicts an intensity and range of emotions, from calm to chaotic. This card also speaks of unconditional love. 

If you had asked me a year ago what kind of impact the loss of my brother John would have on me, I wouldn't have predicted the way I've been feeling the last five months. 

The first part of our lives, he and I didn't see much of each other. He was just enough older that our paths didn't cross in school or on playgrounds. Then, when I was in college, he was living at home again and we became closer. We were pretty good friends through my 20s. After he started having children, his focus changed and we had less in common again. 

To a sensitive person like myself, his "sense of humor" could be unnecessarily hurtful. On top of that, it seemed like a lot of things got lost in communication between us. I think it's fair to say that neither one of us quite trusted the other. So, for the past 10 years of his life, I didn't seek opportunities to be around him. I never lost sight of how good a father he was, along with other good qualities of his. But I was happy to admire those qualities from afar. 

Pop psychology would say that the reason I've taken this so hard is guilt—guilt over lost opportunities and blah, blah, blah. But that's not the case at all. I don't feel bad or unjustified about any of the choices I made in regard to him. But what I think I didn't realize until I turned over this card today is that, even though it really didn't look that way, there was unconditional love between us. I never would have guessed it, because on the surface I would think all my love with my brothers and sisters was conditional. But now I'm rethinking that. 

My oldest brother, Bob, is someone who emanates unconditional love for his siblings and I always thought he was a bit sappy for it. But today I'm realizing how wise he is. He is a good example of how you surrender to something like that. He'll get mad at you, but he won't hate you. He'll always be gentle with you. He's the one who will always say, "don't say you don't love him. He's your brother." I finally get that.

When John found out he had cancer, all the walls that caused him to say some of the hurtful things he said tumbled down. Actually, he had already been working on it when he got sick because it pushed more than one of us away from him. But when he learned he had cancer, he surrendered. Anything that was in the past was in the past. 

That made an imprint on me, because when you're faced with death, all those other struggles with the ego don't matter. And he got that immediately. I never would have predicted that of him, either. But he got it immediately. Although "grace" was not a word you would normally use in conjunction with him, there became a grace about him. This opened the door for both of us to set bygones aside and let each other know how we felt about each other.

My mother was the same way when she was dying. Both she and my brother made sure nothing was left unsaid. Both found the courage to express themselves in ways they couldn't when they still held the illusion of having limitless time on this earth. They played that song "Live Like You Were Dying" at my brother's funeral. But I wonder how different this world would be if we could all LOVE like we were dying. How different would your life be? 

I've known for a while that I hold on to hurts way too long. Right now there are a few people who have really let me down. One is a family member. When I surrender to the notion that I love him unconditionally, regardless of whether I like him or not, it softens my position. Much of my inner tension regarding this relationship is in trying to convince myself I don't need him or love him. I think if I could believe that was true, then his actions wouldn't hurt so much. But what really causes the pain is fighting against that part of me that can't NOT love him. His thoughts about me still hurt, but there can be less of a struggle around them when I'm not trying so hard to hate him back. He's my brother. I'm stuck loving him. 

There's a part of me that wants to be someone who can open up their heart enough to love everyone unconditionally. I'm nowhere near that, but I've made progress over the years. I may not ever make it to "love", but I'm pretty sure I can make a dent in "accept". My position on this topic has changed considerably over the years. I used to think unconditional love was only for parents and their children (or pets). But now I'm seeing it can be more. Certainly the Dalai Lama has unconditional love for everyone and everything. What do you think about all of this?

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