Summer began at our house with sickness and then peddled its' way into a beautiful vacation with family in Northern California.
It really was an extraordinary experience exploring the majestic Redwoods, witnessing the memorial of Ray's father who was lost at sea, traversing the stunning Golden Gate bridge, hiking through the freakish historical ruins of Alcatraz prison, bungee jumping at Fisherman's Wharf, laughing and reminiscing with dear friends on cable cars, eating our fill of clam chowder, sugaring up at the Jelly Belly factory, running up boulders at Tahoe all while enjoying roadside vineyards and mild temperatures.
We came home happy and exhausted.
Recouping from the time change and the travel, we awoke on Sunday morning to the horrible and unexplainable tragedy of the killing of 49 men and women at the Orlando nightclub, Pulse.
Now it is Wednesday morning and I still can't stop thinking about each of those people and the terror they must have felt seeing the man with the gun. Some were 22 years old, others in their 30's, 40's...some made a last minute decision to go out that night, others had it planned and were laughing, dancing, singing and enjoying life. None expected that those moments would be their last.
While perusing my Facebook feed, I stumbled upon a recent graduation speech by James Ryan, dean at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. In his address, he gave what he believed to be the five questions we must ask to find happiness and success in life. They are:
1. Wait, what?
2. I wonder, why/if?
3. Couldn’t we at least?
4. How can I help?
5. What really matters?
Bonus question: And did you get what you wanted out of life, even so?
All of his questions intrigued me, but the one I fixated on in light of the recent horror in Orlando, was the bonus question.
Derived from one of Raymond Carver's final writings in "The Late Fragment," he asks the most profound question...essentially, in light of everything that has happened to you in this life...all that you planned and all that you didn't...was it enough? At the end of the line, did you love and were you loved? Did you do your best to help make it better than when you found it? Overall, did you live with love in your back pocket instead of regret? Did you adore another enough to sacrifice your momentary desires? Did you appreciate what you were given even if it wasn't exactly what you had hoped for?
I'm not insinuating that the men and women trapped in the night club in Orlando had a moment to reflect on any of these thoughts...but I do think that we can.
If today was it, did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
Can you say, I did...and what did I want? To love and to be loved.
Because if we boil it down to that, we can all do that...choose to love.
And love is love is love is love is love.