“Sometimes life happens and you can’t stop it. Now is that time. When it happens, you discover where true love lies, and where it never existed.”
A good friend said this very recently in response to a significant life event. It got me thinking about how much time and energy I have wasted on things and people that have nothing to do with true love.
Then the question arose: what do I mean by true love? For simplicity I adopted the terms for love used by C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves (however, not necessarily his explicitly Christian reading of these four types of love). He adopts much of his analysis of love from Aristotle. For those unfamiliar with the four loves of which he speaks:
- Storge – Affection: fondness through familiarity, especially between family members or people who have otherwise found themselves together by chance.
- Philia – Friendship: a strong bond existing between people who share common interest or activity; the love between family and friends.
- Eros – Romance: love in the sense of ‘being in love’ or the emotional connection with the other person as distinct from sexuality.
- Agape – Unconditional Love: love that cares and acts regardless of circumstance or behaviour.
It is interesting to go back and think upon one’s life, to consider how much time was spent with companions with whom one shared bonds of love. To consider how much time one has spent with people who did not wish you well. To consider how much time was spent on things and not on people. And to ponder how much time was spent on people who had no love for us or for others.
Spent is the right word. We spend time like a currency in our lives. We are allocated an unknown yet finite amount of time in life and our challenge is to spend that time. And the choices we make create the value of that time we spend.
Notice that possessions and wealth are not on that list? Things cannot give love they can merely inertly receive our love, never return it. Only other people can share love with us.
Now that I am older it is clear how precious and short our time here is. I do not want to waste another minute. And I want to spend my time on love and loving; on real things and not imaginary things.
This sums up why this matter is important, not just to individuals but to the entire world:
“Compassion and love are not mere luxuries. As the source both of inner and external peace, they are fundamental to the continued survival of our species.”
Source: His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama