At 31, I’ve Learned One Thing

Truth and love, my friends, truth and love. Honesty and compassion. Self-reflection and empathy. I have searched the world over for wisdom, and that’s what I find. Everything else bows before, supplements, and adds on. If you live your life according to these two principles, you will flourish. If you contemplate virtue daily, as Aristotle says, you will be a virtuous person. It’s all very simple. If you love according to the teachings of Jesus (or others), you will have no enemies. If you forgive, you will live gracefully and peacefully. If you need little, you will be content. If you make the effort to understand people who are not like you, or who live far away, you will never hate. If you accept the things not in your control, you will never worry. If you replace bad habits with good ones, you will be healthy. If you read, you will be more empathetic. If you take the best parts of religion and leave out the worst, you will be left with meaning and purpose. If you give people the benefit of the doubt, that’s how you treat yourself. If you seek the truth, you will not be ignorant (ignorance is not bliss; it’s dangerous). If you seek answers, you will ask questions and solve problems.

A man cries; a man feels; a man faces a situation head on and overcomes it with understanding and compassion. A man is humble, admits when he’s wrong, constantly finds weakness in himself, exposes himself before others do, works on his faults. There are many ways to be strong. The virtues of women and men are exactly the same. If you are hurt by someone, have the courage to swallow it up, take it in stride. You can handle your emotions. Either renew the friendship or walk away. Both are graceful.

I am gullible enough to believe that an enlightened love can solve not only our individual problems, but the world’s problems: war, hunger, poverty. If the right people love enough, people that are intelligent enough to see the problems and compassionate enough to do something about it, then these problems would end. Or if powerful men would love. Love conquers greed. Big if. Love ought to be measured not be those close to you, but those far away. Even sinners love close.

Birthdays haunt me in a way. What have I accomplished? Considering my potential, not much. Like most people, I had plans and ambitions. I wanted to write a book. I wanted to join Habitat for Humanity. Like so many dreaming men, I wanted to do something grand, something of abstract significance. Yet, the proper question to ask is this: do I have any hatred in my heart? No. Are there any relationships in my life that need patching up? No. I feel love for everyone, and perhaps they feel the same. I have a loving marriage, and the greatest gift of all – Immanuel, who has intensified my love, emotionally and conceptually.

When we are all in our casket, the measuring stick will be love. We all know that. Was I an honest person? And how much did I love? And that’s it.

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At 31, I’ve Learned One Thing