"My life amounts to nothing more than one drop in a limitless ocean.
Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"
-David Mitchell, Clouds Atlas
Just yesterday I was driving down Hollywood Blvd. marveling at the sidewalks lined with stars filled with the names of entertainment legends. They seemed almost to never end as our car dodged traffic down the busy street. A part of me wanted to see my handprints in a star. A part of me wanted to see my name on the walk of fame. Yet what is a name? A formalized and stylized arrangements of sounds and lines if you really think about it. If that is all that I live for, then that is all that I will ever be. I will be but a name. At the very best I could be remembered in a history book for my accomplishments, but nevertheless just flat, lifeless print. What really struck me was that these stars and names represented those who have made it and succeeded in their careers. These stars represented dreams coming true and ‘eternal fame’. I couldn’t help but remember the quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “To be great is to be misunderstood.”
Have we gone astray attempting to make the mortal seem immortal? Have we traded our love of lights, sounds and outward beauty for something far less tangible? Are we missing the point? For these stars, they have made it. They have succeeded in their careers at advancing to greatest depths of recognition. Yet eventually they are just names on a sidewalk. Many of the names, I hadn’t even heard of. No doubt they had made a lasting footprint with their life in history of mankind with their careers yet those of the distant past, I personally felt no connection to. I hadn’t seen them in a movie, heard them their commentary, and haven’t laughed at their comedy show. To me, they are just organized dents in the sidewalk. To me they are just a combination of letters by which I can pronounce. What if I was born 300 or 400 years from now? Would I even care about the famous names and stars of today who I exalt in my head? Perhaps it’s not that I wouldn’t care about them, but that they aren’t alive to me. I can’t call them up on the phone and have a casual conversation. I can’t flip on my television and see them acting out one of my favorite characters. Looking deep into future it’s not hard to realize that trophies rust, awards are forgotten, records are broken and titles fade. It seems that even the brightest stars can dim and flicker out in the larger picture of mankind history. No matter how successful you become, your personal achievement is of little importance in comparison to the impact that you have left in the lives of others around you. “Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future,” David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Call me crazy, but I don’t want to die. Call me crazy but I want people hundred years from now to know, feel and see me just as much as those do around me now. Would you think I was crazy if I told you that I believe there is a way to do just that? What if it meant taking the hard road? What if it meant not obtaining instant gratification? Ideas do not bleed. They do not feel pain. Ideas do not die. Ideas are bulletproof. Ideas have always been and will always be. So I thought to myself, what if I became an idea. What if I lived my life to attach myself to something that will never perish? What if I lived my life for something that will always be felt and seen in any culture, with any type of person and at any time? What if I could live to actually become Love in the lives of others?
So first of all what exactly is Love? ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.’ (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Love is so hard to put a finger on exactly what it is, but when you see it in an everyday moment it takes your breath away. It is beauty divine. It’s that dad who works three jobs just to give his kids a better future. It’s when a soldier jumps on a grenade to save his squad. It’s when a grandma buys something her grandkids may never use just because she wants to see them happy. It’s a boyfriend letting go just because he wants what is best for who he loves. Love isn’t easy. It exists in ordinary moments lived out through ordinary people turned extraordinary simply by a choice of sacrifice seen as Love. When you see Love, you see billions of lives inside of it. You may not know their names. You may not know what they look like. But you know them far better than anyone else, for to you they are alive, in the ocean of Love. Ultimately the best definition of Love is that it is the very essence of who God is (1 John 4:8). But how can you become Love? How can you attach yourself to an idea? That’s an intriguing idea but no doubt abstract and impossible. For me, thanks to project ‘Your Pal, Love’ I believe it is quite more than possible.
If you’re honest, chances are you aren’t satisfied and happy with who you are. Am I mind reader? Do I know you better than yourself? Not in the slightest, it’s just that we all wear our insecurities wherever we go. They are the masks that we put on when we step out the front door. They are the fake smiles and cocky, overconfident attitudes. It’s the makeup that we cake our faces with, the bodies we trim down and the muscles that we build. It’s the sporty cars that we drive and it’s the need of bullies to put down others. We all are trying to convince ourselves. I want to propose a wild idea that each of us are just as insecure as the next guy, yet we just express it in different ways. Some of us need someone to love us because we find it so hard to do it ourselves. Some of us need to be praised and commended as better than others to feel as though we have worth. While still others find their value entirely from the body that they are enclosed in, or in the money that they flaunt throughout their lifestyle. Maybe we are all on a one way road through a tunnel crossing our fingers that the light at the end of the tunnel is a beautiful sunrise rather than a train. Maybe we are just distracting ourselves from the root of the issue. The issue of our need to learn how to love ourselves. And for me, I have learned how to love myself, through the strength that Love empowers me with.
I started project ‘Your Pal, Love’ for myself a year ago to attempt the impossible. A project with an underlying mission for myself to learn how to love exactly who I am, not needing to change a single thing about myself. It started with making hearts. A universal symbol of love. A superhero symbol that I hope one day others will join me in using. I needed a symbol that could be easily connected to within any culture and one that represented what this project was all about. ‘For symbols are given power by people. Alone a symbol is meaningless but with enough people, they can change the world.’ I had no idea where this project would lead me. I didn’t know if it would work for myself. But I had to try to fight my depression somehow. So often, I can easily find what I don’t like about myself whether that be a physical, mental, sexual, spiritual, or personality attribute. Yet I find it so difficult, nearly impossible to find what I love about myself. And so I started out on a journey to fight to learn how to see the world anew.
[The trademark heart is a very specific heart with no curve lines.
I would later figure out that if you rearrange the lines you get a Y,P, and L
which stand for ‘Your Pal, Love’. It was as if it was meant to be]
What is ‘Your Pal, Love’? Well, its mission is to inspire the world to do anonymous acts of kindness for others under the alias ‘Your Pal, Love’. So let’s say your neighbor is going away on vacation for a week and you know that they always work extremely hard on their lawn but will be gone. You could cut their lawn, pull out some weeds, and who knows even water those dying plants. But instead of letting them know that you did that act of kindness, you could just leave a note ‘Hope the grass is greener on all sides for you! From Your Pal, Love’. Let’s say you are walking through a local park and you see a homeless person huddled covered in blankets in the bitter cold. You could take off your sweatshirt (you have four or five others back at your apartment) and leave it by them to find when they wake up with a note ‘Hope this helps. Your Pal, Love’. Why? Think about it. Become an idea? Attach to Love? These are but abstract thoughts and dreams, yet ‘Your Pal, Love’ makes this very abstract idea a reality. To that neighbor, to that homeless person, you ARE love. They do not know who did it. They do not know why you did it. They only know that someone anonymously going by the name of ‘Love’ left them a sweatshirt or mowed their lawn. To them, you became their pal, Love. You attached yourself for that very moment to an idea that will exist for all of eternity. Live a life of Love, and forever a part of you will be seen in Love.
Now so back to why I created this project. How does this help with learning how to love who I am? How does this change what I am insecure about myself or how I look at myself? Each time you do an act of kindness under the alias ‘Your Pal, Love’ (or just in everyday life without the alias) write it down in a journal that only you read. When you are insecure, page through the journal. Look at all that Love has been able to do through you. I may sometimes still be insecure in who I am, or what I look like, but in Love I have found enough security to last me for eternity. I am not shy in Love. I am not scared in Love. It gives me strength when I am weak. It gives me hope when I am surrounded by the shadow of despair. It gives me confidence to do what is impossible. To become something more. To become in the end, my own pal, Love.
I’ve created nearly 700 hearts in the past year using nearly anything I could get my hands on (instagram: @sea811n). It started out as a fun little project and it turned into a way hopefully to get the world’s attention. I want others to think I’m crazy. I want others to ask me why I’ve done it. I want to captivate the attention and intrigue of others so that I can share this project with them. And I trust God that I am on the right track. So why hearts? Outside of the fact that they are the most recognizable shape that represents love in the world, I believe it is what God is really after. Too often we take God’s work as our own and we judge. Too often we become prideful in our own good deeds. ‘Your Pal, Love’ is really all about working on the condition of your heart. To perform acts of kindness anonymously, you are keeping your heart and pride in check. The acts of kindness that you perform are between you and God. Sure you get that great feeling of doing the right thing, but there is something even more meaningful and pure when you do good….for the sake of doing good. “Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who’ll never find out,” Frank A Clark. God is longing for hearts that are after himself. This simply means that God is longing for hearts that are after Love itself. For this reason the focus of this project is both your and my heart.
In lots of ways, humans as a species have had a terrible past. One that comes back in our deepest and darkest of nightmares. And yet it is still one that we are fighting today. We have justified slavery by God. We have suppressed and abused LGBT individuals in the name of God. We have lead crusades in the name of Christ, in the name of Love. So where do we go from here? Are we finally going to learn? Are we finally going to evolve? Or are we endlessly going to allow history to repeat itself never taking the time to look outside of our non-accepting views. I remember back in the days of algebra when I would solve a problem, we could ‘check’ it by plugging our values of the answer in to see if it worked out. I look at Love that same way. Is Love at work when African Americans are enslaved and abused? No. Is Love at work when LGBT individuals have to cry themselves to sleep and punish themselves for something they never chose? No. Is Love at work when we kill and destroy the families of others through wars and crusades in the name of Christ? No. It’s time that we see past the issues and look at the bigger issues. It’s time that we check our choices and opinions with what Love would want and do. It’s time that we get on the right path. It’s time that we get on Love’s road. For Love is the way, the truth and the life. Love saves. Love wins. And Love never fails. (http://writing89.blogspot.com/2014/07/falling-ashore.html)
While so many in life are fighting to create a name for themselves and to always be remembered, I am attempting to lose my name, to only be remembered in the ocean of love. Whether it’s an email, letter, card or note I sign everything ‘Your Pal, Sean’. Why? I want my name ‘Sean’ to become synonymous with ‘love’ to others. And I hope that others see it the same way. Whether your ‘your pal, Monica’ or ‘your pal, Anisha’ or ‘your pal, Matt’ we can all be seen and felt as ‘your pal, love’ when we use the alias. It’s like being our individual selves when we want to in our everyday lives and yet connecting undercover to become a massive chain of superheroes across the globe under the alias ‘Your Pal, Love’. I may be crazy but I am willing to die for Love. I put my trust, faith and hope in it. For when I die, I wish to be cremated and put into the ocean. Why? Symbolism. Because I don’t want to be remembered as a tombstone. I don’t want to be remembered as gone. For I am never going to die. I am fighting to always be seen in the ‘ocean of love’ for the all of time, and a apart of me always will be. I like to look at the idea of love existing as an ocean. An endless and bountiful sea of love. This illustration was brought about by Owl City’s ‘How I Became the Sea’. We can crash clean. We can break anew in the ocean of Love and wash ashore of salvation. (http://writing89.blogspot.com/2013/07/fio.html)
I firmly believe that hundreds of years from now people can still know you and I. I will die convinced that hundreds of years from now people can still see and feel me after my time is up. Not physically. Not face to face. But in the ocean of Love that we can choose to live fighting to become. So join me. Grab a set of new eyes to look at the wonderful world around you. Lend a hand to those who need one. Look for those who need a friend. Go out of your way to give until you can give no more. Love until your heart hurts. Learn to love who you are by seeing what Love has done through you. Let your insecurities of who you are slip through your fingers, and grasp tightly to the infinite value that Love brings when it works through you. Relish its beauty. Marvel at its perfection. Feel like you’ve never felt. See how you’ve never seen. Join me and billions of lives of the past who dedicated their life toward one of sacrifice for what is right. Join me in becoming an idea. Join me in becoming ‘Your Pal, Love’.
I want to be more than I see. I want to be more than flesh, bone, personality, character and mind… (http://writing89.blogspot.com/2012/03/will.html)
I want to be ... Your Pal, Sean
I wan to be ... Your Pal, Love
“We’re on your shore again
I can feel the ocean
I can feel your open arms”
I can feel the ocean
I can feel your open arms”
-Switchfoot, Saltwater Heart
Those who choose to live for Love
will forever be seen in the ocean of love…
Do you Sea us?