Universe in a Shoebox (Part II)

In the end of “Life as a Strategy for Life,” we were asked to look back on life as an experience and consider how we want to be eulogized. While I haven’t thought of it those terms, I have thought about my goals of living, and they step from my sense of connection to humanity as I discussed in Part I.

I want to have loved deeply, not just when I feel like it, not just when the other pleases me, not even only when I truly know the other person. I want to feel the compassion that goes alongside love for those with whom I share the planet. After all, we have all either been mother, we’ve all loved and lost, we’ve all laughed with delight and wept in sorrow. We all experience what it is to be human, what it means to be alive. Loving others, feeling compassion, deepens our connections to humanity, and, I believe, brings peace to ourselves and others.

This is a goal, a strategy to life. Working for that goal is work, and I miss the mark every day. As a bit of a perfectionist, examining my life for my shortcomings is second nature (and loving myself can be quite difficult, although as the cliché goes, it’s the place to start). As human, I constantly fall short. As human, I continue to strive for growth and that currently popular business term, “continuous improvement.”


Included in the sermon is this poem:
Adrienne Rich: Transcendental Etude
No one ever told us we had to study our lives,
make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history
or music, that we should begin
with the simple exercises first
and slowly go on trying
the hard ones, practicing till strength
and accuracy became one with the daring
to leap into transcendence, take the chance
of breaking down the wild arpeggio
or faulting the full sentence of the fugue.
—And in fact we can’t live like that: we take on
everything at once before we’ve even begun
to read or mark time, we’re forced to begin
in the midst of the hard movement,
the one already sounding as we are born.


— Adrienne Rich, 1984.


So I study my life, make gradual if stuttering progress, loving the life this earth contains.

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