Happy New Year Aspire community. The new year always brings a sense of promise and openness to what can be. In that spirit, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer some musing on a topic I have been thinking about for a very long time but haven’t put to paper until now. That topic is love. Love is a funny word. We use it all the time when we refer to our kids, partners, pets, etc. – those singular persons or objects that we are attached to. Love is so much more than that, though. Love is everything. Love, quite frankly, in terms of our humanity and the interrelationships between us, is the only thing that truly matters. It defines how we relate to each other – how we hold each other – in a process of mutual reverence and understanding. It connects our hearts to our brains, then to our hands, and propels us through both our public and personal lives.
Love, of course, is an integral part of our work at Aspire. Erich Fromm, the German social psychologist and philosopher, said the active character of love is that of giving. In the process of caring for and supporting those we serve, we are giving a part of ourselves to them. When we engage in thoughtful, caring conversations with our colleagues with the goal of growing and developing, we are giving a part of ourselves to each other. We are constantly engaged in the process of love. The relationships we have with each other are loving relationships. We show up, we share, we engage, and we push each other in sometimes very subtle ways, to become greater than what we are currently. These are acts of love.
The expression of love both inwardly and outwardly is also an art. It’s a skill that we need to constantly hone. Like any skill, we need to have a constant awareness of where that skill sits within us. Skill development forces us to go deeper into ourselves. For example, in order for the potter to become more skillful in their craft, they need to be fully aware of many aspects of the process; where their fingers are at all times, the speed of the wheel, and how wet the clay is. So, it is with love. In order to express this thing called love, we need to be constantly aware of how we express it. “What is churning inside me?” “How am I showing up given what is churning inside me?” “What will the other person see and hear regarding my expression of what is churning inside me?” From this self-questioning emanates the quality of our essence and therefore the quality of our work together.
Love as an act of presence and of giving also has larger societal implications. We’ll discuss this notion more fully though as we continue to engage in the conversation and work around equity, inclusion, belonging, and justice and what they mean for Aspire. For now, I wish you the happiest of new years and all the best that our shared presence and purpose has to offer.