aturally, as a young man, I am in the process of figuring out what I want to do with my life. What exactly do I want the next 50 years to look like? What will I be doing then? How will I spend my time?
There are so many different possibilities, so many alternative futures. In order to make a decision between all of them, one needs some sort of core value in mind. Some principle that will separate the wrong paths from the right one.
In my case, I know for certain that I want to choose the journey that contains the most love. In many ways, there’s a selfish motivation for this. I think back to the times where I was truly the happiest and most full of peace. It was always where the love was.
Now life’s other great joys – pleasure, wealth, beauty, lust – are all fine in their own right.
But those appetites are never fully satisfied.
Even when you experience a great vacation, a big bonus, a delicious meal, the instinct is then to want more, more, more! Nothing is ever enough.
By contrast, love is the only perfection there is. I think, for example, of some of my earliest childhood memories: running down the hallway on Saturday morning to hug Dad as he read the newspaper, car rides with Mom as I gazed upon her smile in the rear view mirror, long summers of baseball games with my brothers.
Those moments are priceless gems. There is nothing about them that can be made better. The clothes people were wearing at the time, their waistlines and bank accounts are as irrelevant as old newsprint.
Love memories are like that. They exude a feeling that can never be adequately captured, not in poetry or music, not in painting or literature.
Human beings can attempt to describe perfection – but we always fall just short of the mark.
Furthermore, this dynamic also shows up in the pages of history.
Great achievements in a nation’s commerce and power impress for a brief moment, until they are inevitably outdone with the passage of time.
But those instances when love is embraced by a society – the American Civil Rights Movement, for example – inspire reverence and awe forever.
You can’t improve upon the March on Washington, with its epic images of Blacks and whites locking arms together to transform the nation. Only an idiot would suggest that the event would have been greater if its participants were better looking, or if Dr. King had arrived in a Rolls Royce instead of marching.
The same emotion evoked by that beautiful day is no different than what I feel after recalling my childhood.
And I want my future to contain as much of it as possible.
The earliest Christians – a bunch of poor peasants living during the high noon of Rome’s will to power – certainly got it right. The world is difficult, full of suffering, illness and death. Nothing will ever change that.
So what’s a person to do? God is love, they said. Therefore, the essence of a well-lived life is to worship love, take refuge in it, do all you can to follow its soft, quiet voice.
Embracing this guidance is the best way to ensure great happiness, no matter what fate holds in store.
Joshua Heath is a Santa Clarita resident. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays and rotates among local Democrats.