Anyway. These two real things I feel so deeply and truly about, that are as fundamental to my vision of the universe as some god-force probably is to other folks, are the generosity of time and the power of love.
This is what I mean by the generosity of time. As long as we are alive, the moments are infinite. I realize this is a bit of a paradox, but bear with me here. As long as we are alive, life itself — existence, the reality of being — provides uncountable opportunities to do it over, to try again, to change, to be something else, to act a different way, to heal a relationship, to build a relationship, to look up and say “hello,” to ask for a hug, to reach for a hug, to tell the truth, to attempt to speak and act from your heart. To make something. To see something, really see something.
I can be too shy to look the cool barista at my favorite coffee shop in the eyes and engage her with a question each of the first thirty times I go there. But the next time I go in, I could just do it. I could just be different, I could try again, try something new. “The next time.” That is the generosity of time.
We don’t know what’s ahead. But as long as we’re here, something is. And this something is a place for hope, for belief, for optimism, and most of all, for action. We actually do change, we practice, we try again. And each day, all these renewed offerings of opportunity are expansive as-of-yet unrealized places where we can simply do it another way, a way other than what we did yesterday or all the times before. And all these moments of possibility add up to an outrageous and wondrous abundance.
I may not be able to tell my beloved I love her yet, to drive her around in her car, to toss the keys on the side table when we get home. Yet as long as I live, the possibility exists that somewhere out there, down the long and winding road of moments, I might. I might be able to speak, to ask for, to receive, to know what it’s like to touch that gas pedal, to learn exactly where the clutch catches. That is also the generosity of time. Innumerable moments, and us in the heart of each one with all of our volition, all of our desire.
I think that to fully appreciate the generosity of time, you probably have to also understand the power of love. Time — all that wild, unmade, upcoming time — seems scary or sad or oppressive or ominous — not generous but perhaps cold and stingy — if you don’t believe that love is possible, is important, is inherent and is powerful.
A lot of attention is given in the general U.S. culture to what’s going wrong rather than what’s going right. Not just on the national stage but in our own lives. It seems to me we usually talk about “lessons” and “consequences” as results of mistakes and poor performance.
But there’s no need to associate lessons with a bitter taste. We can learn just as much in a much more useful way from everything we are liking, everything that’s going well, all the times we’re crushing it, happy, involved and enthralled. We can learn just as much from all the times we give and receive love. But first we have to see it, see it working in our lives. It is there, and it is very strong, and you will see it everywhere if you practice seeing it, and you will learn how it works, learn how to use it, learn to wield its power.
And same with consequences. We almost exclusively use this word to denote a negative effect of a cause: something that must be faced if you act poorly or if something bad happens. But there is no inherent valuation in the definition of this word. It simply means the result of a cause. Like indifference or hatred or cruelty, love and kindness have consequences. Paying attention has consequences. Listening has consequences. Joy has immense consequences.
In my life, I’ve seen joy consistently be as irrepressibly catching as a yawn. Responding to the world as it comes to us with generosity and openness rather than meagerness and fear has consequences. I’ve seen them in my life. The consequences have been growth, warmth, connection, communication, ecstasy, belonging, satisfaction, purpose, meaning and ease. For myself and for those around me.
So I recommend having a go. Just play with it, experiment. Take a day or a half a day and shift your perspective so that you can see and feel the generosity of time and power of love. Maybe you’ll like it. Maybe it will work some magic in your life, too.