Saturday, August 23, 2008

Selfless Love

My Aunt Darlene is the most selfless person I know. She passed away while I was at cross country camp. I have not seen her since last fall. My Aunt Darlene cared for my Grandma Pearl until she passed away last fall and has always taken care of my Grandpa Kenny as well. She is not related to either of them, but would happily drive both of them back and forth from Toledo, Ohio to Florida every year until they permanently moved down to Florida a few years back. Anytime someone was sick or needed some sort of encouragement she would send notes or cards. Even in the past few months she was taking care of other people when she should have been taking care of herself. She was her daughter's rock and everyone else's angel. I feel as though a person filled with a lot of good has gone. Obviously she spread even more care and love while she was here, but that doesn't make it any less noticeable.

Last night
I was very upset and hurt because of some things a friend had said to me. He had a few drinks in him and for whatever reason was very hurtful in his speech. After some mean words were exchanged I hung up. I began to cry and then stopped when I realized I was tired of letting this kid influence my tears. He doesn't care so why should I. That's a terrible way to approach life-- for if you do, nothing will change, but all the same- I did not feel my reaction of "Cry." was a good one. He sent me a picture of this dog he'd found, which was his way of attempting to make amends (I think) and I called him back. I told him he'd hurt me and he apologized profusely. This is not a common thing for this kid (the apologies) so I hoped they were genuine. I love this kid to the moon and back and I forgive him constantly. If I kept tally of all the times he's hurt me in the last 2 years I might be awfully miserable. However, forgiveness leaves your soul much lighter. I often wonder if there are limits to the amount I care about this friend. I've been thinking about my Aunt Darlene a lot so I began to think about her ability to love people to such great lengths. It's a fascinating ability that I aspire to contain. I care about many, but to go such great lengths -- I will try.

These two stories connect though, I promise.
You see, this friend who I care so much for does not believe in selfless love. After all, you benefit from this selfless love. When you chose something you benefit from, this makes it selfish? You get the "good job" feeling from it. You feel good about being able to love someone or you get some sort of benefit back. I used to argue that it's still a better way, but I never really knew how to defend why because this was true; there are benefits to caring for someone. It is nice to feel good about yourself. Last night it occurred to me though, not everyone lives this way and that is what makes it better. Making the choice, letting go of the possible alternatives- the things that could benefit you and hurt others... choosing the option that will cause happiness to someone else is the way that you should live. I took a class on capitalism and was taught that theoretically if everyone did what was best for them than the highest level of productiveness would be reached. Yet, I can't help but wonder what about the lies and the cheating and the feelings and-- there's a lot missing from this equation. I suppose the moral of the story is that selfless love is not easy and as humans, it is not constant. We are not able to consistently love others selflessly, but that should not stop us from taking the effort to take care and treat as many others with compassion* as possible. Whether you view it as "selfish" or not, it's the better way.

It's tough though.

*Compassion 1-
Deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it
Compassion 2-
The desire to help when a need is discovered.

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