Welcome. My blog is an experiment: Could I have something to say, once a month, for a year? While I like to tell a humorous story, there are stories and reflections I would like to share. My promise to you: when I've got nothing more to say, I quit. Thanks for reading.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Measure Your Life

            Though I have never seen the musical “Rent,” I have a basic idea of the plot.  But mostly, I have listened to the song “Seasons of Love” over and over—enough that it has taken on its own meaning to me, independent of the play.  (My apologies if I have grossly misrepresented the lyricist’s meaning.)

            The song, written by Jonathan D. Larson, asks the very basic question “how do you measure the life of a woman or man?”  And it also provides a very specific answer.  I have excerpted lyrics below:

            Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
            How do you measure, measure a year?

            In daylights, in sunsets
            In midnights, in cups of coffee
            In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife
            In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
            How do you measure, a year in the life?

            How about love?
            Measure in love

            Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
            How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

            In truths that she learned
            Or in times that he cried
            In bridges he burned
            Or the way that she died

            Seasons of love
            (Measure your life, measure your life in love)

            I have thought of my mother every day for the past sixteen and a half years since she passed away of cancer, but I think my memories pull at my heart stronger around the Christmas season.  As I try to help my wife create memories for our children, I think about all the memories that she and my father created for me and my brother—the stockings, the cookies, the candles, the trees, the music.

            I know mom had her faults and her life was far from perfect, but I think everyone who knew her will agree with one thing—she tried to live her life measured by a song she never lived to hear.  Mom was a seeker of truths—about herself, about God, about life.  In the end, I think she also tried to teach those around her how to face death.  In her illness mom became a hospice worker, she became a big sister, and she fought for her life tooth or nail, but not with anger, but with love.  And if you ask me how she should be measured, I would answer “measure her life in love.”  Her measuring cup would overflow.

            There are times over the past year when I feel that the message of “Seasons of Love” has gotten through to humanity.  There is hope for our race.  I remember watching a news spot where a young lady worked on a way to send messages of love to US troops.  Maybe you saw the photo that caught a New York Police Officer Lawrence DePrimo giving a homeless man a pair of boots he bought for the shoeless man.  There was another young lady who had a physical deformity who fought against bullying in the schools.  There was a family who lived out of their van in Florida, and when she was asked about how she survived, Arielle Metzger said “I mean, it’s only life.  You do what you need to do, right?”  I had many moments this past year when deep in my heart I thought, “It’s going to be all right, the message is getting through.”

          And then I have days like December 14, 2012.  Regardless of politics, I hope we can universally agree with President Obama’s quote from that evening when he said “As a country we have been through this too many times….We've endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years, and each time I learn the news, I react not as a president but as anyone else would –as a parent."  I am sickened by this senseless tragedy; worse, I lose my faith in humanity.

            I don’t claim to have any answers.  But perhaps we are using the wrong metric in our lives.  We tend to measure our lives by Facebook “friends” or followers of our “tweets,” by our cars and trucks, by bank accounts and boots, by our technology.  What if, instead, we measured our lives with the love that we both gave and received?  I’m certain not everyone agrees with me, but I’m pretty sure my mom is nodding as I type these words.