Holiday Reflection: What I've Learned About Love
By Susanne Liebich
As the end of year approaches, I have the opportunity to reflect on the many blessings in my life including health, a loving family and friends, and the gift of teaching so many wonderful students of all ages. The universe has created this wonderful opportunity for me to guide individuals, some who struggle with profound disabilities, in how to express themselves both physically and emotionally through movement. All that I have been able to offer these students is far outweighed by what I have learned from them.
The frenetic pace of the holidays, the constant barrage of material goods that advertisers insist will make our loved ones happier, endless and insatiable consumerism....unfortunately, it's easy to get caught up, overwhelmed and then disillusioned, because in the end, how much money we spend or how busy, busy, busy we make ourselves does not result in happiness or more love.
The other day, my Emerson hospital Parkinson's Dance Class held a holiday celebration after class with delicious food and some lovely flamenco music provided by my son Sam. As we gathered together after class, what I observed... what I felt.... was community, friendship, gratitude and love. The love was palpable: I gazed around the room and witnessed love in the daughter who rearranges her work schedule to bring her elderly mother to class; I witnessed deep love in the couples who share the burden of Parkinson's and arrive together in class to experience the joy of moving together; I witnessed love in the woman who brings her family member every week and expresses gratitude to me for inspiring him to want to move again; I witness love and connection as we spend time together chatting, sharing a simple meal, and learning more about each other...carving out time to be together. There was love everywhere.
I teach therapeutic movement and dance to seniors who reside in the memory unit of an assisted living facility. I witness the tender love of amazing caregiving professionals as they gently comb one resident's hair, console another who is agitated, encourage others to participate. I witness love in the beautiful Christmas tree given to one of the residents by her family, decorated with symbolic ornaments honoring special memories during her life.
Love can also exist in simple acts of kindness from strangers. I happened to be shopping in the old mill town of Hudson the other day and stopped at the post office. I was carrying three large boxes and a man who had already left the building walked back and held the door for me, then walked inside and held the other door. Once inside, a man who was waiting in line to buy stamps offered that I take his place in line so I could put my boxes down. As I walked back to my Mini Cooper a man commented on how he liked my car and a friend who is 6'5" may purchase one. We shared a couple of laughs over the thought of his tall friend in a Mini. I always do some shopping at the dollar store, purchasing items for gift bags to be distributed to at-risk teenage girls. I purposely go early because I purchase hundreds of items, and I don't want to hold people up. When I went to the cashier to check out, there was only me, and five minutes later, there were ten people waiting. I felt badly as at the time there was only one cashier, and yet no one complained, no one rolled their eyes. They waited patiently and courteously while the cashier took another 15 minutes to finish the transaction.
So this is what I've learned about love... It's not wrapped; it can't be purchased. It's given without expectation or premeditation. It knows no boundaries, as in, it can be given to anyone, even strangers. It has a way of spreading and it lends meaning to life. It's not complicated and receiving it brings joy..... Giving it brings joy. What I've learned about love is that when someone asks "what is the meaning of life", I don't know the answer for sure except to know that somewhere in the explanation is love. It's profound yet simple. My wish to all is to notice the love in all aspects of your life and let it fill your heart....