Recently, I was chatting online with my twenty-three year old daughter. We had been talking quite a while when she finally said “Mom you never answer the really hard questions” and having actually just answered several questions I asked her what she meant. She said, “You know, the really hard questions about life and love and everything else.” I thought about that for a moment and then said “that’s because those are the questions there aren’t any answers to, those are the questions that we all spend our entire lives trying to answer.”
Clearly, my daughter has a lot of faith in me to begin with if she thinks I can give her advice on love. If I had any idea, would I be divorced, living alone, and trying to date again at my age? If I had any idea what the answers to all those big questions were wouldn’t I have all the things I’ve always wanted? Would I be planning to spend my Valentine’s Day having dinner with my mother? If answers were even possible wouldn’t we all have the things that, deep down, we all really want; love, passion, happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction with our lives and someone to share our lives with.
I went to an art opening this week at Sohns Gallery at the Rock and Art Shop in Downtown Bangor. The theme of the show this month, in honor of February, was Love. When we first got there, the friend I was with and I were confused; love? At first glance, the pieces were not what we expected. Where were the couples holding hands, the big red Valentine hearts, and the soft kisses? Where was the happily ever after? Some of the pieces were clear to us, but not all of them, not how they related to love.
Then, a photographer friend posted her photos from the evening online. It was then, clicking through all those pictures, that I saw it, very, very clearly . . . love in dozens of little unexpected ways.
The painting I didn’t get, couldn’t understand; I saw love in the artist’s eyes as she posed in front of it. I saw love for a place and love for her work.
There was love in the way our hosts planned the evening, set up the exhibit, poured the wine, and made us all feel welcomed.
There was love in the sounds around us, love in the music, and love in the conversations of people who gathered together on a cold night.
There was the love and passion that so many of us had while talking about our work, knowing at the end of the day that each of us gave it our all, and knowing that what we do really matters!
There was Love Potion for sale! I don’t know how I missed that. It appears I need to go back down there and do some shopping!
There was a love among friends in the room; old friends who have shared years of each other’s joys and sorrows. There was love for new friends and for friends who hadn’t met yet.
There were lovers in the room and in the pictures; present, past and future.
There was the love between two friends who are just living their lives now as old married folks. This of course filled me with love for the people of this state who made it all possible last November!
There was love of family in the room between those who were related by blood and between those who we’ve adopted into our families of choice.
There was a love for this City, for all the amazing things the people of Bangor have accomplished in the last few years. Not only was that room full of love but of deep commitment to continue building an incredible community.
Of course, nothing says love for this City like the “I <3 Bangor” Pigeon T-shirt hanging in the window.
We have to remember that just because something isn’t what we expected, that doesn’t mean it won’t be amazing! Sometimes you just need to look at things through a different lens. As I clicked through the photos of my friends and neighbors I realized there was so much unexpected love there, in this one tiny little corner of my life, on just this one evening.
I have come to realize that I am, in fact, immensely happy. You see, Valentines or not, my life is full of more love than I could have ever imagined all those years ago when I looked ahead to what my life might be like now. No, I don’t know all the answers to the questions about love and life. I have no idea why it all turned out the way it did. None of us have those answers.
What I do know is that we need to let go of our expectations long enough to look around us, to see what the Universe has given us. We need to take a moment to truly see what our hard work and our passion has brought into our lives, to appreciate all the people we have the privilege of sharing this journey with. If we can do that, we just may realize we’ve had what we always wanted all along.