I read somewhere that we are all born with a single emotion: Love
In time, circumstances, upbringing, society, basically life, hits us with experiences that form other emotions. Fear, joy, anger, jealousy, satisfaction, hurt, the whole nine yards.
Since reading that, I've wondered why love and not anything else?
Why not courage to face the new world?
Why not joy that we have finally arrived?
Or even patience to outlive our early days of pissing and soiling ourselves (some of us never outgrew this phase though)
Why, of all things, love?
While I don't claim to be an expert, this is what I think is the reason: Love is the only thing that makes you grow.
It's as simple as the more you love, the more you grow.
Parents for example, loving parents vs crappy parents.
Loving parents are easy. Loving parents tend to breed loving children.
I grew up thinking I had crappy parents. Too strict, too square, too hard to impress. As a result, I started by loving myself. I loved myself so much that I told myself I am never wrong. I am the best and I'm going to show my parents that I know how to live life more than they do. For many years, it worked. I went through life thinking how to make the best out of it. Improving myself constantly for better job, better pay, better everything.
Still, it never seemed to impress my parents. Sure, they smiled when I said I got that promotion or got that dream job. But nothing ecstatic. Still, they rained on my glory with comments like "be careful" and "do whatever you like, just remember to come home" and of course "do you make enough? don't spend so much".
Life became different when I turned 30. Somehow, I realised while I loved myself completely and have achieved many things in life, I was still not satisfied. In fact, I was getting tired.
I didn't want to slow down so I just pushed harder, thinking I would be happier when I achieved more.
I also started to notice that my achievements have fallen on deaf ears. Parents weren't really listening anymore. Over time, all I got was "uh-huh" and "well, that's nice".
I finally got some energetic response when I started racing triathlons. Suddenly, they were excited. Suddenly, they were proud. Suddenly, they love me! I mean, of course my parents love me but boy I've never felt love like this.. ever!
Suddenly, they traveled miles to watch me race and all the talk about when they see people is how great their daughter was.. every second of that full-on-16-hours-plus, plus (plus) out there during Ironman.
So what changed?
Nothing on their end. That's for sure.
They'd loved me all along. Proud of me, all along. I was just too preoccupied with loving myself to notice.
When I started racing, I was suddenly humbled by the fact that I am truly physically challenged. I also realised that I was now in a community of nut jobs just like me. Most importantly, I started to love more than just myself. I loved the sound of clicking cleats just before dawn as we set out to ride. I loved watching steam rise up from my shoulders after a night swim. I loved my friends who shared my race jitters and post race meals. I loved everything about it so much, I was fiercely protective. I looked out for my friends on the road and I gave assistance to anyone in the community whether or not I knew their name. Ensuring the well being of the people in this community meant more to me than knowing their name. I encouraged strangers to join the community, shared my experience with friends thinking of taking up triathlons. Strangely enough, even though I wasn't exactly a star racer, people found my journey inspiring. With this inspiration, they usually push themselves and become better racers than me.
After racing for a couple of years, I found out why my parents seemed more interested in my non-achievement as a racer than my personal achievements. It was because they started seeing me as a responsible person, loving more than just myself. Friends are always excited to see my parents at races. They've become somewhat like a celebrity at races. Especially dad. Mind you, not because I'm such an inspiration (unless you consider my persistence to finish any race, injured or not, an inspiration!) but because they are usually the only parents around on race day!
Being part of a triathlon community taught me first hand, what it's like to love others above yourself. It taught me how my life can be enriched by enriching others either through inspiration or guiding a newbie. Doing things that do not benefit me eventually gave me more joy and satisfaction. Nothing beats knowing you have touched somebody's life by helping them achieve something they didn't think they could. Things that you may not think of but profoundly nests in their memory as one of the greatest feat achieved because of you.
And you can only do this, with love.
Parenthood is the purest kind of love. And to me, parenthood is something everyone can experience whether or not you actually have a child.
Parenthood means loving unconditionally. It means protecting, nurturing, and giving without any expectations of something in return. If you give but expect something in return, you're not giving, you're trading.
Being a parent can be a lot of hard work. It can also mean a lot of heartache. But it is the most rewarding experience in life, and you will grow the most as a parent.
Whether you're that geeky parent beaming with pride, complete with camcorder in hand because your child made it as a tree at the school's annual concert or you're standing below looking up at your disciple on stage receiving an award you mentored him to achieve; you would have experienced parenthood.
In life, success is yours for the taking. And the view is pretty awesome once you get up there. But the view is never as awesome as when you have somebody up there to share it with you. True success is not what you can achieve on your own. It is what you can help others achieve.
True success is being a loving parent in whatever you do.
And seriously, how hard can it be to be a loving parent?
After all, we were all born with the single most important emotion: LOVE.