We spent a lot of time over the term talking about the overuse of the word "Love." How it is used as a catchall. How it is used without any real meaning until we end up with "compassion sickness." Naming the book "Love 2.0" might be considered nothing more than a marketing ploy. (I'm glad it worked and got you into the class!)
Most of us came to class associating love, true love, as the mark of a rare and precious relationship. Indeed, it is. Perhaps as altogether rare as exercise of our own free will!
As I pondered Fredrickson's use of the word "Love" to invoke the system of physiological activities that go into play when we connect with something outside of ourselves - be it friend, stranger or a sunset - it occurred to me that she is inviting us into a secret paradox: Love is indeed the most wonderful thing we can experience. The paradox is that this most precious of experiences actually takes places in micro-moments throughout the ordinary course of our days! And this happens whether we are aware of it or not!
What Fredrickson and her colleagues have found in their research is that it is the frequency, rather than the intensity, of experiences of positive resonance that correlates with good health, resilience, and wisdom. In other words, she is alerting us to the fact that the opportunity to experience meaningful connections is already available in the ordinary! While we are looking for Love as a summit experience, we are trodding rough-shod over the silver lining of our daily path.
Just as I was thinking about this, I had the chance to hear Jenny Sherman speak as the student speaker at the Duke Commencement. This young woman speaks with a contained passion that - strange as it may seem - was heralded by a bird! You can hear him trilling his little heart out, for all the world saying, "Listen to her! Listen to her!"
Jenny's speech runs from minute 54 - 1:02 - about 8 minutes. It is well worth the watch. Click HERE and then scroll down to the embedded video.
I have copied below the lines that speak most deeply to me.
"At Duke, we have learned from extraordinary and ordinary moments. I think the ordinary ones are more important."
"There is nothing in the range of human experience that is off limits. You may encounter yourself in a foreign way of life, and you may encounter the foreign in your own mind. Our greatest gifts are not the things that make us extraordinary.
Our greatest gifts are the things that make us human. Our flaws and our vulnerabilities help us to connect, to understand, and to live in pursuit of justice for others. When we fail, we give others the chance to treat our humanness with grace and compassion. When we lose people, it's the ordinary things that become precious....."
"I hope we will think back with love on our triumphs, and our failures, and the people who showed us kindness through both."
Thank you for the many kindness that you showed to me! I hope to see