If you follow me on Twitter or Pinterest or have browsed around my brand new Etsy shop, you might have noticed I have a little thing for quotes. Not just random ones, but great quotes made up of just the right words that seem to draw you a picture that you can see perfectly in your mind. Sometimes I’ll be reading and come across a line in a book. Just one sentence nestled in among a hundred other sentences, but it speaks to my heart. I’ll read and reread it over and over, marveling at how the author could have put those words together in just the right way, and how lucky I was to have been able to find them and read them and tuck them away into the corners of my heart.
The other day I was scrolling through Pinterest (probably when I should have been sleeping) and came across a sentence that I stared at for several minutes, letting it just sink in:
“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.”
Usually, I think it’s silly to try and condense life down to three easy steps. Life is vast and complicated and unpredictable, and maybe something you’re experiencing doesn’t fall under one of those categories. Not everything can be tied up in a neat bow and explained. Sometimes, life just doesn’t make sense, but you wade through hoping you’re able to show someone else the way.
But I read this and I loved it. I loved it immediately. Even looking at it now, it calls to me and I can’t really explain why. But I think in the end I love it because this is what I want for my life. This is what I would pick as my motto, I suppose, if I had to have one. I want to write these words out over every piece of paper and carve them into my heart and breathe them into my soul.
I think we can all learn a little something from this apparently Buddhist idea. (I only say apparently because sometimes Pinterest isn’t the best when it comes to sources…like Wikipedia.)
1. How much you loved.
Love can’t be measured exactly. We can’t pour it into a measuring cup or line it up next to a ruler. But we can feel it and see it and recognize it when it is given. And we feel the loss keenly when it is taken away, leaving a void in our hearts. Love is such an amazing, beautiful, healing thing, and sometimes I think we live in a world that has forgotten how to love, each other and ourselves. We are quick to criticize and tear down, and sometimes we withhold our love deeming people to be unworthy of it. We treat love as a currency to be spent or saved, rather than as something to be freely given and spread to those around us; forever replenishing itself.
Because here’s a secret: everyone needs to be loved. Everyone deserves to be loved and to find love. Everyone is worthy of love. We are all worthy because we are all human – people with hearts and souls that long to be filled with love’s kind and healing touch. There was a reason, I believe, that Jesus commanded us to love Him and our neighbor. He didn’t say we were to fear or criticize or compare or create distance between ourselves. He said we were to love. And in the end, that’s what matters: how we spread that love – the love woven into our very being – to the world and people around us. We should love first, love second, and love in spite of all the reasons not to. Love others and love yourself.
2. How gently you lived.
We like to be a force. To be a person who does these amazing, life-altering things that can’t be ignored. We like to leave our mark on this world, on history. We want to be remembered, and we spend a lot of time trying to make that happen. We create personal brands and seek followers and try to be relevant and edgy and controversial. We want to make a name for ourselves and we want people to see that name and know it means something. And perhaps there is a time and place and calling for that. But perhaps not. We forget that maybe we can touch lives and make a difference by living gently and kindly and purposefully. We can change the world with tenderness, something we seem to have let go of in a world that says we must be tough and hard in order to succeed.
I thought I had to be this way, to reveal a strength that I didn’t always feel in order to be taken seriously. And it’s that I’m not strong, but I can show a quiet strength in the softness of my words and the kindness I show the people I love and still make a difference. I can be vulnerable and gentle without being weak. It’s like the difference between a downpour and a drizzle. One dumps buckets of water on you in a raging storm, while the other sprinkles raindrops in a quiet reminder. In the end, no matter what, you get wet. And I think I’d rather be a gentle drizzle.
3. How gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.
I live a life of extremes, though not intentionally. On the one hand, I love throwing things away. Going through my things and getting rid of random odds and ends that I no longer find useful or sentimental is rather satisfying. On the other hand, I cling. I hold on to things, usually because of what or who they represent to me. Once upon a time, I fancied myself in love. I wasn’t, but that’s the beauty of hindsight rather than the reality of the moment. And I wrote notes to this man whom I would have given my heart if he had asked for it. I poured my soul and feelings and passion onto the page, and told myself some day I would give these notes to him and he would see my devotion. But nothing came of it and the distance grew, but still I clung to the idea of him and the idea of us, unwilling to move on. I was stubborn, fashioning a love story in my mind that I knew would give me a happy ending.
Until one day I woke up and realized the obvious: it would never happen. It wasn’t meant to be and it never would be, and I was better for it. I gathered the notes, written in a haze of infatuation, and threw them away. I let him and the fantasy all go, finally. Without those notes and the fiction that clung to them forever weighing me down, I could move on and find something else – someone who was meant for me. We are allowed to let go of the things that hold us back. Letting go means making space in our heart and mind for new things – new stories and adventures and people we are destined to find. The more viciously we hold on to what’s not meant for us, the less able we are to grasp on to that which is intended to be ours. Whether in love or a career or friendship or a time of travel, sometimes the best thing we can do is to end that part of our life with a period and start a new chapter.
Thank you for reading! And maybe (definitely) follow me on Twitter >> @cassiclerget.
I’m pretty entertaining.