Last night I had to write a reflection on how my personal beliefs surrounding death affect my worldview. I discussed my thoughts on what I believe happens after we die, and on what I hope to leave behind and take forward when I go. I’d like to share an excerpt with you:
“Shakespeare’s Othello said, “I have loved not wisely, but too well.” I would rewrite this for myself, saying instead “I have not always loved wisely, but well.” “Love” in this instance wouldn’t be limited to romantic love, but all forms of love. I don’t know how successful I’ll be. I’m human. I make mistakes. I get hurt, and I hurt others. Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but I don’t want to die without giving or receiving it wherever possible.”
I would rather go through life with an open heart – though this also leaves me open to pain – than a closed and miserly one. To be honest, I think I tend toward the latter. I’ve loved unwisely, be it romantically or otherwise, and have borne the pain of the mistakes. It has left me wary. I have also loved when others thought me foolish to do so, and have been rewarded. I wouldn’t be married to the man I am now if I had listened to other people instead of my own heart.
A classmate recently asked me how I knew that it was safe to trust the man who would become my husband. I gave the best answer I could, which is that I couldn’t know that with absolute certainty. I felt that I knew him, knew that I loved him, and had to take the rest on faith. Then again, he had to do the same. We’ve been together for over 20 years now, therefore it seems to have worked. Of course, it might not have, but we’d never know if we didn’t try.
It’s that way with friendships, too. We open ourselves to our friends. Sometimes it turns into a beautiful thing (cue the end of Casa Blanca), and occasionally they let us down horribly (the prom scene in Carrie comes to mind). Though I joke that I’d like to become a hermit, the truth is that I would rather risk myself and have a few friends than to be locked away in isolation. Unless there’s an endless supply of good books, because good books can make for really excellent friends.
So I really would rather come to the end of my life having loved well, if sometimes foolishly: family, friends, animals, nature, books, life.
Especially books, because now and again foolish books are the best sort.