Love Is All There Is


Amaryllis in the dead of winter.

Amaryllis in  winter.

A few weeks ago, I gave a workshop on memoir writing in Lindsay, Ontario. I ended the workshop with this quote from a poem by Emily Dickinson to sum up the state of mind to aim for when selecting words to tell the stories of a lifetime

                              That love is all there is

                                 Is all we know of love.

look-insideBut what is love? We went around the table, and everyone said one word to express what love meant to them. Safety, said the man writing about his hobo years. Compassion said another. Then others: caring, listening, forgiveness, oneness, unconditional.

Just yesterday I found some notes I made on a medical memoir I read a few years back. Jill Bolte Taylor drjilltaylor.com   wrote My Stroke of Insight eight years after she had a massive stroke at the age of 37 in the left hemisphere of her brain.

What a stroke of luck it was that she was a practising neuroanatomist because she recognized what was happening to her, even as she began forgetting everything her left hemisphere knew. In the space of minutes, she was aware of everything going … speech, motion, self-awarenss. It was with great effort that she remembered how to find and use the telephone, then confusedly figure out how to dial a familiar number that was disappearing by the second.

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

What was left? The right hemisphere. I read my notes with fascination, rediscovering all the states of mind she tells us are in the right hemisphere: Safety. Compassion. Forgiveness. Love. We are all one. Virtually identical to words the class had used to define love! And J.B. Taylor gives us more: higher consciousness, intuition, joy, peace, open to new possibilities, adventure, no fear of the future, not bogged down by the past. Euphoria, she says, was the state she was in without her left mind. It was a wonderful place to be—albeit not functional.

As she slowly recovered the use of her left mind, she had this stroke of insight: “Peace is only a thought away and all we have to do is silence the voice of our dominating left mind.”

Barbara Brennan, a NASA physicist who became a healer and wrote Hands of Light, refers to love as a Higher Sense Perception, and says that it is, in effect, a sixth sense – along with intuition and telepathy.

In my book, The Gift of Memoir, one of the twenty-two reasons I list for writing memoir is this: To immerse yourself in love. Love for life – even the losses, love for language, and love for the literary form that make sense of it all.

Love is All There Is. Did the Beatles dip into Emily Dickinson for their song that uses those same words? Tantalizing question.


17 comments on “Love Is All There Is

  1. How wonderful to have someone so self-aware and knowledgeable that they can turn such a catastrophe into something we can all learn from. A treat someone, like me, who has worked in brain research and is now learning to meditate.


  2. I love this, Diane, and your workshop participants must have benefited greatly from your presentation. Wish I’d been there!


  3. Glad your workshop ended so well, Diane. I don’t think there is any historical record of John Lennon being influenced by Emily Dickinson’s poem but I think it is enough that her work is still quoted.


  4. Thank you Diane! What a wonderful reminder – peace is only a thought away.


  5. Wouldn’t it be great if we came with on/off buttons for right & left sides of the brain? But then…we wouldn’t have the challenge of learning . Finding peace is the greatest challenge I believe.


    • And what if you forget which button controls which side, as I would be sure to do, then what! She also said, in My Stroke of Insight, that observing rather than engaging is a function of the right hemisphere (she likes to use right “mind”) Hard to fight with someone, even yourself, if you don’t engage them.


  6. Truly Diane, love is all there is, for me it has become a feeling, trying to find words to describe it seems to fall short. I would have been searching forever (:


  7. Diane, what a fascinating post. And I like how you linked love with memoir writing. Love is what’s motivating me to move forward on my writing project.
    Blessings ~ Wendy


  8. “Peace is only a thought away and all we have to do is silence the voice of our dominating left mind.” Roger that. I am also curious to know more about the story of the former hobo in your class (I was fascinated with hobos as a child). Hope you are keeping safe and well.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. So interesting how we make connection with others. Ron sent me a copy of his self published book a year or two after the classes. It’s an amazing account of his four years in the early 60s when he was a young man. “Mostly hopping freight trains, and thumbing for lifts, I made my way thousands of miles with the help of kind people who guided, hired, fed, housed and befriended me.” – as he says in the blurb on the back. He had no idea that he would ever write anything, but came to my class thinking maybe. The most amazing thing is that he kept a journal when he was hopping trains, misplaced it, then searched for it after getting motivated by all the others in the class, found it and, as he said, it was pure gold. I know it was a soul satisfying project for him. When it arrived in book form he said it ‘nearly knocked his socks off’. Memoir is my favourite genre to read. Real, yet creative, too, in the way it is assembled and what is chosen to impart – for it can’t be everything! Good luck, Lisa, in finding the time.


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