Is It Possible to Love Everything? – Reflections on a Quote by Marina Keegan

Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, I figured I would give in to the urge to post something related to love. There are, of course, many different kinds of love, and the type of love I wanted to talk about is the love of experience, which is prompted by a very short quote from the author Marina Keegan in her book, “The Opposite of Loneliness: Essay and Stories.”

“I want enough time to be in love with everything…”

It is a beautiful sentiment unto itself, but made all the more poignant by Ms. Keegan’s tragic death in a car crash five days after she graduated college. Here was a person who’s writing indicated an insightful mind anxious for experience and a willingness to embrace the complexities that come along with it.

It is this enthusiastic approach to living, rather than the breathless gasp that comes from acknowledging a life ended too soon, that I want to focus on by looking at three aspects of the quote: love, everything, and time.

If the author had said, “I want enough time to love everything…” we would have an entirely different quote. I think there is quite a distinction between “loving” and “being in love.” The kind of love that’s expressed in this hypothetical quote is a love that’s measured, deliberate, and maybe just more aware of significance. It’s a love that is mature, that takes time to smell the roses and soak in the beauty of a moment. It is a love that is confident.

“Being in love” is a love that is frenetic, ravenous, and full of passion. It is the love that is new, where all the senses are alive and fully aware. It is a less rational love, one that takes less precautions, one that lives so much in the moment because it is less sure, as if there’s no tomorrow, and burns with a white hot intensity (also a blank canvas for cliched description).

I think this difference is important in exploring the quote. Ms. Keegan’s desire is to not only acknowledge the world in a way that only love can, but to do so in a way that is passionate and enthusiastic.

A second aspect of the quote is the subject of the author’s love. She wants to be in love with everything. What could “everyting” possibly mean? There is a lot of everything out there, and some of it more loveable than others. If the quote were mine, “everything” would mean all the things in life I do but also want to do, and knowing that many of these things I will never have the opportunity to do. The list is long, and to be general is the only way to express it succinctly, but it would be traveling to different places, acquiring talents, having experiences that are unique to me, and taking the time to slow down and appreciate them with gratitude.

There is an idea I have often heard attributed to Sylvia Plath but echoed many times by other thinkers; that there is not enough time for all the lives we want to live.

There is an aching that comes along with these unfulfilled desires. Some people cast them aside and go about their time here on Earth, avoiding them because the idea of not having these experiences is too painful. Others obsess over these same ideas, perhaps to the point where it is too much. There’s a middle ground here I think, where a person acknowledges these desires and uses them in healthy ways, to motivate, to dream, and to enhance the everyday experiences around them.

But Ms.Keegan’s notion of “everything” also indicates not just big dreams and exciting lives to live, but also the small things; the beauty of a flower pedal, the joy received from an evening with friends, the acknowledgement of the everyday viewed through the lense of zeal. Both views are worthy and enhance to our experience.

The final aspect of the quote is that of “time.” We could go down a very lengthy road here, exploring what time is, but for now let us just leave it at the acknowledgement that time is precious. It is an interesting aspect of our nature, that we cannot be completely cognizant of each moment, aware of life’s beauty and complexity. This is a tragedy of our human natures, but it is also part of the beauty, for if were so aware of life that we constantly noticed the beautiful design of a maple leaf or the magic of friendship, we would hardly make it through the day, so overwhelmed by the miracle of existence.

On one hand, there will never be enough time. On the other hand, time is infinite, with infinities between each minute and second.

Taking the quote as a whole, what Ms. Keegan so beautifully conveys is that life is absolutely worth living, and to not live it with passion and wonderment is a waste of the gift that life is. So enjoy your Valentine’s Day, and fall in love life.  

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