I was reading Stephen Levine’s book, Unattended Sorrow, when I was struck by a statement he made:
We are learning to live with the consequences of love. So we must bear loss as deeply as we cared.
There it is, pure and simple: We all know somewhere deep inside that grief is the admission price for loving. It’s why some people never risk making those connections, because they fear the consequences and their own ability to pay the price. Others cling tightly to their loved ones and try to prove the pain won’t happen to them if they just work hard enough at loving.
The reality is that we, as humans, need the emotional nourishment of loving connections with others. We may not realize as children that love carries a sting in its tail, but living soon teaches us that lesson. The fairytale of a charmed life might appeal, but when the clock strikes midnight and the spell vanishes, we have to face what is left. To be fully alive, we must develop our strength in the face of adversity and pain. More than that, we must be willing to put ourselves at risk by loving. We establish roots and create homes. We make friends and have families. Each moment of joy is made more precious by its passing, and we suffer more when we hold tight trying to prevent that passing because we can’t fully savor the moment while we’re in it. If we cling too hard, we may be left only with regret instead of joyous memories and balance.