Several years ago, I set out to teach myself how to play harmonica. I had a desire to express myself musically and I chose the harmonica because A. I love blues and B. How hard can it be to play harmonica? It’s only got 10 holes, for crying out loud! Well, I learned very quickly that the instrument was MUCH harder than I thought but I still wanted to learn so I kept at it.
As my skill increased, I started to notice something interesting: my desire to play also increased. Practice sessions shifted from the painful first steps of scales and repetition to a joyful exploration of musical technique. I eventually started to seek out opportunities to play with other musicians. First, at jams then, sitting in with friends in their bands to eventually fronting a band myself. I sometimes forget that it all started with a simple choice.
When we choose to develop a talent, skill or ability we look for ways to use it in our lives and to share it with others. Whether it’s shared as a hobby or a career, the honed skill longs to reach out beyond it’s host and mingle with it’s likeness. Of course, this isn’t limited to music. Whatever the interest, the intent-develop-share cycle is always completed. Simply put, the singer longs to sing. This is true of pursuits that we love, but can the same also be said of love itself?
As I was considering a life of service, a friend posed the question “Is it possible for you to love everyone?” The question sent me on a journey not unlike that of learning how to play the harmonica. The initial excitement of the idea gave way to frustration and doubt as I attempted to learn the nature of love in a way I’d never considered before. My concept of love as a rare jewel to be protected and rationed morphed into a realization that love is actually at once all-powerful and abundantly available. Eventually, like the singer that longs to sing, I found myself to be a loving being that longs to love all.
Let’s suppose that all we want is to have a sense of love working it’s magic our lives regardless of our circumstances. A love that fills and sustains us through sunshine and rain. Through triumph and defeat. A love that soothes our pain and dissolves our suffering. A love that celebrates every moment of our mere existence. Is the process of bringing more of this magical elixir into our lives as simple as developing a skill? If it is, why would we not choose to develop it to it’s fullest?