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“Hey, Love?” I ask in my mind. Perhaps it’s presumptuous of me to think I can just have a conversation with Love, but almost immediately a feeling in my body shapes into words.
A sensation of calm, of inner peace, wraps around my mind as if to say, this is safe.
“How do I figure out who I want to become, if I don’t have a clear idea yet?”
I feel them smile. It’s weird writing that, since I haven’t had much experience with synesthesia before.
“That is an excellent question, Supernova. It is challenging to find clarity for your inner source of truth in a world that bombards you with ideas, narratives, and beliefs to subscribe to. Have you figured out the first step? Have you figured out your Why?”
“Yes. I believe so. My personal Why, my raison d’être, is multifold. I wish to come alive with joy each day, feeling excitement and passion for the contributions I’m making to this world, and feeling peace and fulfillment in my heart as I do so.”
“Go deeper into your Why. Open up the depths of your inner being and share.”
I pause, not expecting that response. I thought my answer was pretty clear, but as I think a little further about it, I see that it is far more surface level than I’d admit to. I swallow and close my eyes.
Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it — because what the word needs is people that have come alive.
— Howard Thurman
“What makes me come alive?” I think to myself.
“I wish to make a contribution to this world because I know that contributing to the well-being of others, that being in service to people, is an experience that nurtures the heart and soul, soothes the mind, and quells the anxiety and fear that I live with every day. I fear for the future of humanity over the next twenty years, I fear for all the people I love deeply and dearly who are close to me, and I fear for all the people I don’t even know but who deserve to live a life not overshadowed by dread and despair, or by a fear of others or calamity. I want people to feel love and joy every day, as well as hardship and struggle but I believe that life itself will always provide that to us; love and joy is something we have to give to ourselves and others for us to receive it.”
I take a deep breath and continue. “I love contributing, I love helping people feel seen, feel reassured, feel supported, feel loved. I love helping people reframe their inner dialogue and perspectives, not because they are wrong — I no longer believe in ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ as effective arbiters for truth — but because I know that our psychological minds have a Negativity Bias we evolved for our survival, and that it tinges our thoughts with darkness until someone, anyone, shines a fresh light on them. I love the idea of living to an old age and seeing what amazing, wondrous ideas and inventions humanity comes up with over the next 55 years. I love the possibility of a world that overcomes the ‘us versus them’ mentality and sees itself as a Möbius strip, where we are all on the same side just facing our shared challenges from different perspectives. I love the idea of contributing everything I have, all my creative ideas and quirks and talents and skills and perspectives and my love, to make the world a better place for everyone. I want people to feel safe, I want people to feel like they are loved, like they belong in this world, and that they matter, because I truly believe that that is the truth for everyone. You are loved. You belong here. You matter. That’s what goes on inside my heart. That’s what makes me come alive.”
Love, again, smiles at me, but this time it is a much warmer and embracing smile, like they’re hugging me with their mind.
“What are you experiencing as you share all this?” They ask me.
Another deep breath for me, and I assess. “Relief,” I tell them. “Sharing my truth like that feels scary, but good to get out.”
“What is scary about it?”
“It’s baring my soul for the world to see, and allowing it to be judged.”
“Do you care if people judge you?”
“Of course I do. I want to say ‘no’, and I like to think that I don’t, but truthfully, I believe that anyone who says no are lying to themselves, on some level. I believe it’s more accurate to say that we care about how we are perceived to contribute, because our inner being absolutely wants to contribute positively and meaningfully to the world. We are innately wired as human beings to care for one another, and so, I can’t imagine that not caring about how we are perceived is an authentic good for anyone.”
“What about all the teachings on not caring about what other people think of you?”
“I believe it has to be more nuanced than that. ‘Not caring’ strongly suggests practicing indifference, and indifference is the opposite of love, is it not?”
“If love is synonymous with caring, then indifference is the opposite of love, yes.”
“Right, so then, I don’t like the idea of ‘not caring’ about what other people think of me, I think it’s better to let it inform you but not bother you. Use and learn what you can from their perspectives on you, good or bad, but don’t let their views of you define who you are as a person. So…care about what they think, but care for yourself even more, and believe in your inner strength and truth to withstand any criticism or judgement, and guide you in the right direction.”
“Does it still feel scary, having shared the depths of your inner being?”
I chuckle softly. “No. It does not. But I think mostly that’s because any time I do something scary, five minutes after I’ve done it it no longer feels scary and I’ve grown from the experience.”
Now it’s Love’s turn to chuckle, and we both laugh.
For a moment, there is silence between us. I sit and stare out the window and listen to the music.
“This doesn’t seem to answer my question, though,” I tell them. “It doesn’t give me a clear idea of who I want to become.”
“That is true,” Love replies, “but what’s more important to you: knowing who you want to become, or knowing what you want to contribute?”
I realize immediately it’s the latter. Love remains silent, allowing me to do the work.
“It’s the latter for me, because… I already have a very strong sense of my authentic self, of who I am today. And I am very happy with who I am, meaning… I have no unmet desires about my personal identity. Meaning… the question of ‘who do I want to be’ is not the right question.”
“What is the right question?”
I ponder this for a moment, considering my words carefully, then reply.
“What does someone who wants to contribute what I want to contribute, do with their time?”