Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Learning to Love, In Manageable Chunks

by Aly Lewis Paper or plastic? The haunting question of the millennium symbolizing the sheer volume of choices the average American makes on a given day. If I weren’t an avid supporter of paper over plastic this question would induce a mini-panic attack every time I found myself face-to-face with a checkout boy or girl. In theory. Despite my pleasure at feigning displeasure at all of the choices I have to make on a daily basis, the truth is I love being in control. What really stresses me out or leaves me beleaguered (my new favorite word) are the things I can’t choose. As much as we’d like to charge forward as autonomous, capable human beings, there are a lot of things we can’t control. Where we were born, for example. Who our parents are. Whether or not our retirement fund has decreased by 70% in the past six months—not that mine was anything substantial to begin with. Recently I’ve come to the mini-epiphany that regardless of my circumstance or how I feel about a situation or all of the million and one factors that conspire to render me paralyzed and hopeless, I can still choose love. Maybe you’ve all realized this years ago and I’m just a bit of late bloomer, but I find it incredibly empowering to know that I can choose my response. I can’t choose whether or not the world is fair or children die of starvation in Africa (well, not as directly as I’d like), but I can choose my attitude and my next steps. I wrote earlier about manageable chunks, or small things we can do to make a difference in the world, and still think they’re the best way to bring about lasting change, the best way to learn to choose love. And I guess this isn’t so much of a new epiphany as more of an addendum to my theory that baby steps get the snowball rolling (to mix metaphors). It’s those baby, baby steps of selflessness and compassion that spur us toward becoming more loving, more compassionate, and more fully engaged in our world. The knowledge that I can choose to love and empower and give through my thoughts and actions is becoming exceedingly redemptive for me. I can make a difference little by little. I can learn and grow little by little. I can love little by little. Hound me later if you think I’m being trite, but welcome to my new obsession: “manageable chunks of love.”

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