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Out on a limb for love

Another September 11th has come and gone. Six of them now since the first, and we’re still afraid. Maybe even more afraid. Of terrorists, of global warming, of war, of the stock market.

But mostly we’re afraid of each other.

Every day I hear at least one person express a desire for love – romantic, familial, friendship — but they’re too afraid to reach out and ask for it. Too afraid of rejection. To afraid their ego will take a hit. So frozen with fear that they’d rather live without the love they desire than go out on a limb and really, specifically, ask for it.

Single friends of mine are afraid they won’t find someone to love them. Married friends are afraid their marriages are failing or are numbly disconnected. Older parents I know are afraid to ask their busy middle-aged children for attention and time, something more than the occasional obligatory phone call or annual visit.

Fear. How can we let it be more powerful in our lives than love?

In the days that followed September 11th, everyone in America seemed willing to go out on a limb for love. Willing to call family members from whom they’d been estranged, to take the hand of the spouse they were cheating on and promise never again, to tell themselves they’d never send their children to bed without looking them directly in their eyes and saying “I love you more than the sun and the earth and the moon.” Willing to invite a stranger to dine with them or smile a greeting to the person who passed by on the street. Willing to be the first to say “I’m sorry.”

Six years later? Not so much.

We’re back to our old ways. Families are still fragmented by petty arguments and marriages still destroyed by laziness. People still twist their faces in angry grimaces at the elders who move too slowly in front of them. Friends still haggle over who “started it,” and who owes who an apology.

Six years ago, everyone said that those planes crashing into buildings and fields, those families decimated, those lives lost, would teach the rest of us the lesson of a lifetime: That we must not wait until we are confronted with death to say what was left unsaid. That life is to be lived and people are to be loved. Now, not later.

If you had just a few minutes left to live on a plane hurtling toward death, whom would you call? Whose voice would you want to hear? Whom would you forgive? Whom would you ask for forgiveness? To whom would you whisper, “I love you;” who would your heart break to touch and hug just once more?

What are you waiting for?

The lessons of September 11th are many, but the one that stands out above all is this: Love the best you can, as often as you can, while you can. Ask for love. Give love.

Posted on September 5th, 2007Comments RSS Feed

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