As far as service goes, it can take the form of a million things. To do service, you don’t have to be a doctor working in the slums for free, or become a social worker. Your position in life and what you do doesn’t matter as much as how you do what you do. —Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
For this week’s blog post, I have an unusual goal: not writing about what’s going on out there. I know you know what I mean. Everyone is still thinking and talking about the same thing right now, and frankly, it’s exhausting.
But then, you may wonder, why would I intro a blog post with a quote about “service”…especially at a time like this?
Well, I think we’re all feeling particularly grateful to service workers around the world right now. So kudos to them. However, I’m actually thinking of other forms of service—from helping a neighbor to being a little extra kind to everyone around you.
To Love and To Work
I also think a lot of folks are wondering how to just get through the day, maybe not even considering helping anyone other than themselves. Maybe even rethinking life in general: what’s its purpose, what’s the meaning, if any, and what am I even here for?
Although there’s no reliable source material for it, Freud supposedly once said that the key things a person should be able to do well are “to love and to work” (lieben und arbeiten, in the original German).
Of course, at this point, you might fairly ask the question, “What is work?” With millions of people seeking some kind of unemployment benefits in the US alone, for many, looking for a job is the only work they have at present.
And that is work: filling out the forms, sending the emails, making the calls into systems that are, perhaps understandably, overwhelmed.
I think the effort is the important thing. Every day, we’ve got to suit up, show up, and do the thing—whatever that might be. And no, it’s never easy.
And The Love Part?
I’ve been both fortunate and unfortunate in love in my lifetime. Thankfully, I’m married to an incredibly wonderful woman who is the love of my life. I know not everyone is so lucky, and for those suffering a loss, or just lonely, believe me when I say I’ve been there. And of course I wish everyone the kind of love I have now, but I also realize it’s a one-in-a-billion shot. I get that.
Still, love has many forms, from the love of family to that of a friend. So I encourage everyone I encounter to give as much love as they can, since it so often comes back to you tenfold.
In my most recent novel, Whizzers, some of the most compelling quotes come from a spirit guide by the name of M’Extezuh. At one point in the story, he passes along the following:
A soul may be buried in pain for a lifetime, but it is still there. And in that soul, in every soul, lies the secret of all existence, the answer people spend a lifetime seeking. The answer, of course, is love. Remember that each day if you can.
That’s really all the wisdom I have for you in the year 2021, at the age of 56. I hope it’s enough.