We were in Costa Rica and I had just done a parenting talk. He looked at me and said, “You can’t love unconditionally if you judge someone.”
I said, “That’s not true, I love unconditionally and I sometimes judge.”
He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “You may love unconditionally, but when you are judging someone the person you love won’t feel unconditionally loved. So therefore in order to really express unconditional love, there has to be no judgment.”
He went on to tell me about his relationship with Britt and how it changed when he stopped giving meaning to what she did. Morty had always had a fabulous relationship with his kids. But, when Britt was a teenager, they went through a rocky patch. He would ask her how her day was and she would reply, “Oh my god, you’re so annoying!” He would walk away feeling hurt and upset, thinking that their relationship had changed and she no longer loved him the way she had when she was younger.
At some point, he realized that her frustration had nothing to do with him. She was a teenager, going through teenage things, and he just needed to love her through it. One day, she called him a terrible name and stomped off to her room, and slammed the door. Morty went up to the door and said “I hear a teenager who loves her dad and is not in touch with it right now.” We heard a shoe being thrown at the door and then laughter. She came out and said, “Oh daddy, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it. I love you so much and I’m sorry I’ve been so terrible to you.”
From that day on their relationship was transformed. She held his hand when they walked down the street, even when they walked by her high school. She wasn’t embarrassed. She just loved being with him.
Before my husband died he called both our daughters in to “complete” with them. Getting “complete” means saying everything you wish to say to a person, making sure there is nothing left unexpressed. Morty and the girls discovered that they were already complete. Our daughters said that there was never a day of their lives when they didn’t feel unconditionally loved and they never felt judged. There was nothing that hadn’t been said.
The same was true for me as well. Morty told me and showed me how much he loved me every day for thirty-five years.
When you get to the end of the journey you realize that your accomplishments are perhaps admirable, but what matters most was that you loved well and were loved well.
Please tell your loved ones that they are cherished and adored. Show them in special ways. There was a parable that our minister at the Unitarian Universalist church ended all of his sermons with that I’d like to share now.
He said, “If there is any kind and generous thing that I can do let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I may not pass this way again.”
The kindest and most generous thing you can do is to be as loving as you can to all the people in your life. So I urge you to never let an opportunity to express love pass you by. Morty never did.
How to free yourself from the activity trap and find greater fulfillment in life
When we are not in touch with what truly matters to us, life can feel a bit empty.
We know there is something more than just doing, doing and more doing but can’t seem to get off the treadmill. And if we stopped all this activity for a few moments, we may not even know what we’d do with ourselves. But when you get clear on your passions you know what truly moves you and why. Life sparkles. There is more joy. And you have clarity that guides you in making powerful choices that can change your life.
My friend Janet Attwood will be conducting a webinar on two dates — October 14 and October 16 — that will show you how to get in touch with what truly matters to you, freeing you from the activity trap — doing more and more yet not feeling fulfilled.