The Only Two Things that Matter
“Love is or it ain't. Thin love ain't love at all.”
― Toni Morrison, Beloved
August has been one hell of a roller-coaster.
A friend of mine died suddenly. My stepdad, Frank, suffered a series of strokes.
Frank is ok. And It’s been a scary and precarious time. Maybe you’ve experienced something similar?
Our leadership philosophy is to include everything - all parts of yourself and your experience. And while this newsletter might be a slight departure from our usual programming… love, death, and uncertainty have been on my mind.
As I navigate a variety of feelings - fear, relief, disappointment, sadness - something Frank has said comes to mind:
“The precariousness of this life puts us in touch with the preciousness of it”
My stepdad has been an amazing paternal figure for me since I was seven. He’s hilarious, witty, wise. He’s also a buddhist teacher, author, and pioneer in end of life care. I wanted to share some of his wisdom with you because it’s helped me alot over the years, both personally and professionally.
Frank has brought mindfulness and compassionate care practices to hospice patients and their families for 30+ years. In the 80’s when the AIDs crisis hit, he opened the Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco, housed in a beautiful old Victorian building on Page Street. They cared for people dying of AIDs at a time when medical professionals were still afraid to touch them. They took in homeless people living on the streets at Civic Center.
Frank has sat at the precipice of death with thousands of people. He refers to them as his teachers. I think of Frank as one of mine.
He says, at the end of life, there are only two questions that matter:
“Am I loved? And did I love well?”
One thing we talk about often at Inside Out is the power of perspective. We get so focused on work and day to day hurdles, we can easily lose sight of the bigger picture.
I invite you to zoom out from whatever you might be fixated on today - a project, an argument, your to-do list. Take some time to practice receiving love. Like really let it in. Practice sharing it, too. Whether it’s self-love or loving someone else; shared with a friend or a complete stranger. Consider what matters most.
Be loved. Love well.
Alicia & Gina