My daughter is 17 and graduating from high school. Last week, all the students in her class received letters from their loved ones. This is the one I wrote:
To my dearest daughter,
The greatest gifts my parents gave me were (1) to see and expect the best from me and (2) to love me just as I am, and these gifts are the best that we can give you. They are also gifts you give to yourself. They are the secret to a deeply meaningful life and lasting happiness.
The rest is distraction and filler.
Most people waste time and energy pursuing what does not last — the pleasure of the moment, material things, the latest fashion, the newest, latest and coolest, beauty and youth. Although we should be mindful and appreciate all that we have this day (because most of it doesn’t last), most people don’t pursue long-term happiness.
We each have a unique potential in life — the purpose of the soul’s journey right now and right here. It is the dynamic interface of your unique talents (what you do better than everyone else, many yet to be discovered and nurtured), your passions (some known and others yet to be explored), your values (what makes your life most meaningful) and the needs of the world. This is your special gift to the world, life’s gift to you, your identity, your answer to life and the gift you give back.
At the same time, you are lovable and good and worthy just as you are. We love you just as you are. We accept you and cherish you just as you are.
This is metta, agape, God’s love. We are each human, imperfect and fallible, but beautiful and worthy of unconditional love.
Love yourself the same way. Love your life the same way: – just as you are, just as it is. You are beautiful, and your world is beautiful.
The purpose of life is simply love. Love life. Seize it — every day, every moment. To feel God, the divine, to feel God’s love is to know that you are loved in this way, just as you are, and to love life — with radical acceptance, just as it is — not wanting and not expecting. Say “Yes!” to life.
See the divine in life, in the world, in others and in yourself. To love is to experience the divine. Transcendence is to see the divine in yourself, in others and in your world — and to be loved — when the divine is seen in you. Our bodies are 60 per cent water and we are a part of the water cycle. Water evaporates, condenses as clouds and mist, precipitates as rain and snow, freezes as ice, flows in rivers, streams and lakes. We drink and consume it — it passes through us. We are made of water, but we do not own it. We are a part of the endless cycle of water.
We are made of love, and we are a part of the love cycle. We have been loved and we have loved. All the good we have been given — by teachers and coaches, friends and family, and strangers known and unknown — in many human and imperfect forms, and it is our purpose to give love forward.
We do not own the love given to us and in us. It is in us to give, and in its giving, we are not diminished. It is a gift to give forward. That is the meaning of life.
That is the legacy of those before us: those who have loved us. That is our legacy. All that we own, we will lose. All that we gain, we will lose. All that we are will pass — except this love given to us, within us and which passes through us. This is all we are. This is life. This is the divine and transcendent. This is the meaning of life. This is the point of life.
Loving you just as you are,
Davidicus Wong is a family physician and his Healthwise columns appear regularly in this paper.