Amor fati. Latin: love of fate. To be happy, we must love life as it is. Not accept it or tolerate it, or worse yet, rail against it. We must love it. All of it. We must find true love inside ourselves for all people and all things and all experiences, whether we label them “good” or “bad.” For that, we need a really big perspective and often, a lot of time.
When I was a young person, I did not love all of life. I loved the parts that I liked, and I stayed high for 20 years trying to hang out in the parts that I liked, but the truth is I was running from a painful childhood, from years spent living out of a car, roaming the country, subjected to violence and poverty and abuse. I did not love that part of my life. It seemed to me an injustice, and it made me question God. It took a long time to see how the puzzle pieces fit together. Now that I’m in my sixties, when I look back over my life, I can see how much my lawless, impoverished childhood taught me. I learned to love reading and good penmanship, how to sell anything to anyone, how to ride horses. I learned loyalty and that you stick together. But the greatest lesson I learned was compassion. I know how it feels to be homeless, to not have winter clothes, to stand in line at a soup kitchen. So now, when a homeless person comes into the cafe that I run, I’m happy to let them use the washroom, glad to give them a cup of coffee, because I know how they feel. Because I lived in a car when I was seven, I have compassion for that person, and that is the greatest gift.
When I questioned God as a child, God answered me directly. God spoke to me many times through animals. Birds would talk to me. And fish. You may think these were just the fantasies of a kid’s mind, but I don’t think so. It was a direct connection, made at an early age, that sustains me to this day. God still speaks directly to me. I have the hookup, with nothing and no one in between, and that got set in place living out of the car.
The violence and abuse of my childhood argued for a disastrous teenage marriage to a drug dealer. When I was seventeen, I married a kid who was twenty-one, just back from Vietnam, and out of his mind. He was the first guy I ever slept with. I thought this big love was forever, plus I wanted out of the house. Six months into the relationship, he started beating the hell out of me. The violence escalated to the point that he would black my eye for leaving the bathroom door open. The way things were going, if I’d stayed in that relationship, I have no doubt he would have killed me. He pushed me to go visit my father in Switzerland (who I had just recently met), and I left the country ostensibly for a few weeks. I ended up staying in Switzerland for five years, and I never saw my husband again.
It took me many years to see the perfection in this phase of my life. The violence and abuse were textbook and followed an archetypal formula - the jealous man, the lying wife, the fugue state of being beaten, the shame and blame, the apology, the make-up sex. It’s every abused woman’s story. When I read Tina Turner’s autobiography, I, Tina, I felt, “I know this.” I understood her life with Ike Turner. Her story was my story. Every woman over in the Women’s Center has some version of this story.
When I fled to Switzerland, I barely knew my father. I’d grown up in the States with my mother, and I only knew the bust-out, white trash life she’d exposed me to. I knew nothing about my father’s side of the family, didn’t speak the language, didn’t know my relatives. I had no idea what the Swiss way of life was. Living there for five years, I became fluent in Swiss-German, worked in a bank, had Jungian therapy, got a divorce, met my grandmother and grandfather and aunt and uncle and half-brother. Had I not had that horrible marriage, I would have never come to know them. Now I understand why I spent my childhood cleaning my mother’s house, why everything has a place, why I automatically face things when I put them away. That made no sense to me as a child living out of the car, but as a Swiss, it makes perfect sense. It wasn’t until I lived in Switzerland that I saw how the puzzle pieces fit together.
When I look at what’s happening in the world today, the ecological crisis that we’re in, the political divisiveness, the greed, the wars, the violence, the hatred. When I look at all this, I know that there is nothing outside of God’s plan for us. There is no Plan B. There is only Plan A, and it happens to look like this. We may not understand it, but It is perfectly designed to deliver our lessons. It’s up to us to refine our vision so that we can see the perfection in it, and learn what it’s here to teach us. Look at how galvanizing all this negativity is and our response to it. The Women’s March. March For Our Lives. The Me Too movement. The Green New Deal. Humans are in a refinement process, and our lessons take on monstrous proportions, both individually and collectively, because there’s nowhere that God won’t go. But it’s how we learn compassion and who we truly are and what we came here for. When we dig deep, we find God. Not the God of the Positive or the God of the Negative. The God of the Whole Thing. See the perfection and love the whole thing. Amor fati. Love of fate.
Amor fati. Love what is. Everything is beautiful, but not everyone sees the beauty. Our work is to refine our vision so that we can see the Truth - the perfection in life as it is. Sometimes our greatest lessons come from our hardest experiences. Every moment is an opportunity to learn and to love.