Oh gee, watching Anderson Cooper last night wasn't the easiest thing to swallow. I watched the Silver Fox sit down with some Paris survivors who were certain that last Friday the 13th was going to be their last, and in tears they described the thoughts they had while waiting for the bullet that would end their life. While watching this video, I realized something pretty unlikely to happen when you watch a video outlining events that happened from the most sheer manifestation of hate; I realized what love was, and how that hate brought death, mourning and pain, but in the end demonstrated love in such forceful gravity that changed my life as well.
The most common notion in the last week has been how hate is destroying the world. All we hear is news of violence and destruction that makes one fear that love is actually NOT all around. I couldn’t disagree more! These two survivors seemed to agree with me. In tears, survivor Isobel Bowdery from Cape Town recapped her "last thoughts” on 360:
"It was important that if I was going to die, if the next bullet was for me, then I left saying I love you. So I said it to every single person I've ever loved. And in that way it felt OK to die, because I had love in my heart."
She tells a worldwide audience how a stranger risked his life to save hers, how she dedicated what she thought would be her last moment to fill her heart and soul with the love she had for all the people she loved and how the gunmen’s’ hate had not won. What other than illogical and natural love would do that? It reminded me of United 93 where shortly before certain death the people on the plane called their loved ones to let them know they’re loved. I immediately thought of the gunmen and tried to picture their last thoughts, wondering if they also saw people and remembered their feelings, but finding it hard to imagine that to be the case. And just like that, I saw my heart, my thoughts and the presence of love that is present in every single one of us until we fight it. And I realized that it’s not just words that say “love is stronger than hate”, it is the way we were born.
We might do hateful things, some worse than others, but in the end hate in our hearts very obviously needs to be fueled while love is innate and has to be haltered by our fears. We try to stop love from happening, but it never does, while hate only happens when we let it. I am thinking of the many years I was scared to open my heart towards friends, family and partners because of fear of pain or hanging on to sorrows. In the moments it mattered though, when my father or my high school best friend passed away, none of that was still there. And I am thinking of the man I used to love whose hateful ways towards me and others have been the result of a wide attempt to stop loving me. I would like to believe that in the moments it matters (which hopefully will never come) he would remember he loves me just like I love him although that love will never find an expression again.
There have undeniably been a lot of horrible events in my life. Many of them happened because of people’s unwillingness to make a decision that would go hand in hand with the love in their heart. Recently, someone wanting to get revenge on me for something I hadn’t even done got more than just himself involved in this plan, but hurt me and other people in his attempt to bring pain to my life. I should really hate that person or the people who helped him in this moronic pursuit, however, I just can’t. My life has been so positive, and the poisonous hate I sometimes catch myself feeling doesn’t punish those who deserve it, but me! My life is good because it follows Bowdery’s stance: it is a good life, because there is love in it.
Unlike many, I don’t count the love I have in my life as a quantity. The mere fact that some random people in California who are completely unrelated to me are considering me a part of their family blows my mind, or should I say heart?! I don’t have many people in my life whose face I want to see on judgement day, but those faces I will see deserve to be seen, and their mere presence in my life raises the quality of it. It is the willingness to let that feeling that they call love take you over despite of all the bad or evil you have experienced. It is the liberation of allowing fear not to spoil the best things you can have in life. That is love!
The other survivor, Bowdery’s boyfriend who she believed to be dead when she miraculously survived the attack, states how he went looking for her, frantically searching every inch of the ground for her dead body. The love we feel for a partner can be so destructive if that person was lost. Although the dramatic display of these two people on CNN can hardly be the measurement of how much they love each other, I believe that is in fact what love is: the complete inability to picture life without that person. I, for one, only really knew I loved my last partner because it was almost impossible to let him escape my life even when there was nothing positive in it for me anymore. And I knew I didn’t love others, not just partners, because their inexistence in my life was never going to change the quality of it. Ultimately, we should vie for the feeling of love in our life that allows for it to become better and to be the object of somebody else’s pursuit of happiness, and nothing less than that.
I know what love is. It is the absence of trying to make something happen, but accepting it will. It is the quality of your happiness, not the quantity of your happiness. It is the one thing you want to think about before you die, even if the memory will hurt you. If I was to die tomorrow, I know exactly who I would be thinking about and who, unfortunately, would not be in those thoughts anymore. And I know that these people would see me if they died tomorrow. For a strange reason I don’t need anybody to know about my love but myself because I’m lucky I have it. Luckier than most. And I am lucky because I see truth and not some distorted idea, clouded by religion, hatred or ignorance. But most of all, I am lucky because I allow myself to feel that love and ultimately that will attract more and more love in my life.
Some people should think about that…