As soon as you care about something, you are vulnerable to loss. You might not have what you care about and then you are wanting it. If you have it, you might lose it. If you have it and you don’t lose it, something might happen to it. As soon as something matters to you, it is going to matter to you if you lose it. This reality represents two sides of the same coin. Caring means you appreciate it, but it also means you feel it if you lose it or it gets damaged.
Never mind things, this truth is brutal when it comes to people. Caring about people is about your heart because you need your heart to live. You need your attachments to people to live. But, wow, what a scary fact. You might care about someone who doesn’t care about you. You are wanting that person, but that person is not wanting you. It’s painful. You might care about someone who cares about you but leaves. Goes to college. Goes to war. Goes to another city for a job. Or, even more unbearable dies. The person you care about may become ill or injured.
Our human relationships are so central to our well-being and to who we are as people, they are simultaneously necessary and risky. We are caught in a no-win situation. In order to live our lives fully, we need to open ourselves to caring about other people. As soon as we do that, we are vulnerable. And not in a trivial way. We can be hurt deeply. We argue with this fact of life: We can be fine alone. We can substitute one relationship for another. We can redefine our relationships, or ourselves. We can work harder, achieve more, get appreciation in superficial ways from audiences, constituents, students, or customers. It doesn’t work. We can become bitter, dismissive, or dissociated. It doesn’t work.
If our task in the world is to make the most of what we have been given, we cannot avoid the reality of loss. We can’t avoid it by analyzing it, negotiating with it, insuring against it, or denying it. It comes with the territory. We have to have courage, which means heart, and engage fully with the circumstances, the people, and the tasks of our lives, all the while knowing we cannot control all of it.