Are You Feeling the Love?

by EMILY ORTON on MARCH 22, 2017

Erik often says, “Love is the answer.”  It almost doesn’t matter what the question is. 

 Love is the answer.  Photo Credit:  Sara Jane Orton

Love is the answer.  Photo Credit:  Sara Jane Orton

This week Lily was using one of Erik’s old journals in her pretend office.  I saved the journal from scribbles, but found this written on the page she had opened.

The ingredient in our hearts that makes us love is work. If we don’t love somebody then we haven’t worked hard enough. The opposite of love isn’t hate but laziness. Without serving others we will never love. We’ve made quitting easy. Our happiness has become more important than the happiness of others.
— Erik's journal 1993 (age 19)

The opposite of love is laziness.

The more questions I have, the more I believe Love is the answer.  That persevering, selfless love that puts spouse first in marriage.  That industrious love that rears children.  That conscientious love that builds community.  That purposeful love that makes room for paradox or opposing views.  And that diligent love that compels us to pursue our own definitions of a meaningful life.

Love is the answer.  It’s a lesson I need to learn again and again.  While passing through the Bahamas aboard Fezyiwg, I read Invictus:  Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation by John Carlin. I'd seen the movie, but books always have more detail.  Erik had just read it so it seemed like a way for us to connect.  I was not prepared for how powerfully that book would impact me.  

That book helped prepare me for the emotional transition from our off-grid existence to the deluge of media whose currents can be as powerful as the Gulf Stream we were about to cross.  I worried about how to respond to what felt like continual explosions of emotional response on news and social media platforms.  That was 2014.

What I learned from Nelson Mandela was that I didn’t have to have a fiery opinion.  Love could be the response.  Mandela assumed that he would like people and that they would like him.  He loved his enemies.  Like Erik, he knew that the opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s laziness.  He did the zealous work of loving those who hated his views and by extension hated him.   He reaffirmed that I didn’t have to be the same as someone else to love them.  And they certainly didn’t have to love me first, or ever.  Whether our differences manifest in our dreams, our lifestyle choices, our politics or the cars we drive, we can still work to love each other.

 Last lighthouse in the Bahamas before the deluge of social media

Last lighthouse in the Bahamas before the deluge of social media

It takes a lot of energy to have a dream.  It takes a lot of small steps and small wins.  It takes growing momentum.  And I believe it takes a lot of love.  I know love is the answer and the opposite of love is laziness. So, if we’re feeling the love—we know we’re working.  If we’re not feeling the love—it may be time to get to work.

 

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 Gulf Stream on a calm day

Gulf Stream on a calm day