… on the complexity of ‘all you need is love’


The Wind At Sea

Sailboats are more about knots than nets, so you’re going to have to bear with me.

The other day I was messaging with a friend in that very cool, smooth, to and fro way that friends who have invested in the creation of a history do.

At one point we were touching on some of the life stuff we were each seeing and feeling and she was half joking that she was going to write a ‘house on fire’ poem and I said I was half thinking about writing one about cults, but was having trouble finding words that rhymed with ‘cult’.

She offered a few close rhymes – dolt, colt, molt, volt.

I volleyed back that I was thinking of making up my own words.

Lult – as in I was lult into a false sense of security.

Mult – as in I multed under the pressure.

Fult – as in I fult as if I had no choice.

And we mused about the fact that I wasn’t following rules again and she asked ‘what are these rules you speak of’ and we cyber-laughed which I think of as the teacher from Charlie Brown chuckling.

But then, as these conversations tend to do, because she is spiritual and think-y and does meditation and I am a bit ponder-y myself (though have been known to fidget and laugh inappropriately during meditation) someone says something pretty serious.  And this time it was her. And she said… here, I’ll go get it to paste it here…

“*sigh* no wonder the world is so messed up. So many wander into webs thinking they are safety nets”

Uh. Yeah.

I said she needed to write about that, and she said she just did (in a message) and we Charlie Brown Teacher-laughed again.

We hit philosophical tennis balls back and forth across the net and laughed and assured each that we wanted to read what the other wrote using the ideas we touched upon, and offering any and all quotes as up for grabs. And then we left our chat for our respective days.

What I didn’t have time to tell her, as we kicked around webs and safety nets, is that I had been chewing nearly constantly, in the background of my brain, about a post I’d put up the day before – a short poem  about choosing light.

It spoke to the personal, and the beyond-me wider world. The idea of the world being ultimately a light-filled place, with a vast majority of the humans who inhabit it being light-filled beings.

It was about faith in the good stuff, and also in our capacity to love, and do right by each other.

All tucked into a little poem.

Maybe those who read it got that.

But maybe not.

Maybe someone… okay someones… who read it, mentally crumpled it up and tossed it on the ground and called it trite drivel because if they read another ‘all you need is love’ (or faith or trust) piece in the midst of all the horror and tragedy happening in the world right now their heads would explode.

So here’s the thing.

I agree that, taken literally, ‘all you need is love’ makes zero sense.

Because it’s not true.

I mean, love is great and all.  But it’s not food.  Or water or shelter.

It’s also not a bullet, knife, bomb, plane or truck-proof vest or pod or shelter.

Love can’t literally make you deaf, or wrap your heart in a protective cloak, when a stranger hurls a hateful slur…

Or a friend betrays.


The results of love, and faith, and trust?

Miep Gies, Johannes Kleiman, Victor Kugler, and Bep Voskuji risking their own lives to help keep a family … Otto, Edith, Margot and Anne Frank …  hidden in Nazi occupied Amsterdam.

Nelson Mandela, surviving 27 years in a South African prison, and emerging at the age of 72 believing he can still affect great and positive change for countless fellow human beings. And doing it.

A small group of friends coming together to provide rides, meals, tutoring and babysitting for one of their own, as she giving all she can give trying to survive breast cancer.

Game changers baby… for worlds at large and at small.

We are all, each of us, responsible for creating our own safety nets. These are what save us, they are our places to turn, when the tough stuff happens. When we cannot be alone with it.

They are the places we cry, where we rail against an unfair or cruel world.

Our safety nets break our falls, center us, make it possible for us to step back into an imperfect world not only believing in the light, but being willing to fight for it.

No one can create our safety nets for us.  And they are not easy things to create.

They take effort to build, and effort to tend. There’s just no way around it.

Our safety nets are woven of our ties to other human beings.

The strong ones require love, trust, and faith.

It is at the same time that simple.

And not that simple.

It requires that we have each – love and trust and faith – for other people, while also having each for ourselves.

It means being open to loving others, but trusting ourselves enough to protect ourselves when we come across another human who – intentionally or unintentionally – wants to hurt us.

It means having faith in humanity, and yet being willing to truly fathom what some humans are capable of… from the harrowing to the wonderful… and to work, in whatever capacity we have, to stop those who would hurt, and protect those who need it.

Trusting that our family, our friends, this universe, will have our back as we have theirs – and working very hard to have theirs. Sometimes they will fail. Sometimes we will fail. And we have to trust that these are just holes in our safety nets, and not the vanishing of the nets themselves.

There is a lot of Stuff.

Stuff in the big, big world.

Stuff in our own personal lives.

And Love and Faith and Trust are simple, monosyllabic words.

But they are not simple concepts.

They are not trite concepts.

Not hardly.

They are our ropes, strong and powerful.

Laid at our feet every moment of every day.

And if we pick them up, weaving our own nets consciously and carefully… maybe connecting them each to others’ nets where possible… well, what then?


Let’s tend to our nets, people.

Let’s tend our nets.

Thanks for readin’.

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