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The Loves List

book-with-heart-pages

 

“For when there is a question as to whether a man is good, one does not ask what he believes or what he hopes for, but what he loves.” –St. Augustine 

 

Years ago, when I first moved into an intentional living community, one of our initial get-to-know-you activities was to create what was known as a ‘Loves List,’ a collection of things, experiences, and ideas that each individual described as being among their loves. This exercise was a novel way to get to learn more about my new housemates right away. In the course of everyday conversation with new acquaintances, a lot of the things that people admire don’t frequently get brought up. The Loves List, instead, aims to put all those loves out there in the open right away. It is a way to discuss and learn about the things people love—that is, to say the things and ideas that people value and cherish and esteem. These things are the tiny traces and connections that make up the gestalt of who people are. As philosopher Gideon Strauss put it (who is a mentor to my mentors who taught me the Loves List) “it is in consideration of what we love that we come to know, most deeply, who we are and who we can become.”

My first Loves List was created in 2011. I have since created subsequent versions of my Loves List, some as revisions from past lists, and others created independently. It is an act of self-discovery to look and re-look over past lists to see what made the list and what was left off. My own loves have migrated through time, yet have also stayed fairly consistent too.

The latest version of the Loves List that I have made, stemming from an independent re-evaluation in 2016, has gotten pretty complex. I guess it turns out that I have been growing fond of quite a number of things. For the sake of clarity, I categorized my latest Loves List into different categories, but this is not necessary. I encourage you to try the activity yourself. Take some time to write down a list of what you love, and see what you learn about yourself. Here is my Loves List as an example, or perhaps inspiration for you to try it yourself.

 


Ty’s Loves List

Natural Loves
Beachcombing for seashells
Botanical Gardens
Cold snowy moonlit winter nights
Crisp, cold winter days
Fireflies
Hot Springs
Living in a place with four distinct seasons
Michigan Beaches
Natural History
Plants and trees—of all sorts
Quiet walks through a garden or forest
The changing seasons
The first few crisp nights at the end of summer, signaling fall is on the way
The way clouds are colored at sunrise and sunset
Warm, humid, breezy nights
Watching ants crawl around
Watching plants grow
Watching thunderstorms roll in—and getting caught in the rain
Weeds growing in the cracks of the sidewalk
Intellectual Loves
Always trying to learn something new
Cuddling up with a good book
Eastern philosophy and religious traditions
Finding a good podcast unexpectedly on the radio
Keeping a journal of my thoughts and activities
Learning about geographical differences
Local History
Making plans/alternative plans
Mental Stimulation
Monastic Life and Monastic Communities
Personal Reflection Time
Pop Psychology
Popular Science
Public Media (i.e. NPR, PBS, BBC)
Reflecting on shared experiences
Sitting in quiet contemplation
Understanding how things work.
Urban Planning and City Design
Philosophical Loves
Adopting second hand goods and giving them a good second life
Avoiding clichés
Avoiding doing things the easy way
Being friendly to people
Being tolerant about how others live
Encouraging positive growth in others
Envisioning possibilities for the future
Having well-thought out reasons for even simple decisions
Imperfection—loving things with visible flaws that don’t hide behind the veil of artificial perfection.
Living Intentionally
Looking for the good in the situation
Mindfulness
Reading the directions—and then doing it my own way anyway
Sleeping on any important decision I have to make
Subjectivity
Supporting local communities
The Circle of Life
The feeling that what I’m doing might make a difference in the world
Thinking about things philosophically
Throwing myself wholeheartedly into what I do
Virtue Ethics
Object Loves
Abandoned objects and places
Alternative music (or instrumental/foreign language songs)
Aquariums, big and small
Artisan’s markets
Brown Road Signs
Cacti and Succulents
Chaco Sandals
Cuttlefish
Dr. Bronners Soap
Exotic fruit
Ginger, prepared in all kinds of varieties
Hummus
Independent coffee houses/cafes
Koi Ponds
Locally brewed micro-beers
Mason Jars
Nalgene Water Bottles
National Parks
Orchards
Puzzles, of all varieties
Saunas
Activity Loves
Aimless Wandering
Being Barefoot
Browsing used bookstores
Buying something used and giving it a second life
Coin Collections
Collecting rocks
Dehydrating Fruit
Dumpster Diving
Factory Tours
Finding seaglass on the beach
Fixing broken things
Germinating Seeds
Growing a garden
Making food items from scratch—especially if it’s grown or foraged by me
Making Granola
Making music on an instrument—or at least trying to
Outdoor Pursuits
Perusing Thrift Stores
Picking up litter
Polishing Rocks
Recycling
Riding Bicycles
Road Trips
Spending time on the water: in kayak, canoe, paddleboard, boat, etc.
Staring at maps
Swimming—pools, lakes, and oceans
Taking photographs
Writing letters
Yoga
Experiential Loves
An evening at a wilderness campground
Being outside in inclement weather
Caring about those who are close to me
Collecting things—and experiences
Creating something one-of-a-kind for myself or someone else
Finding coins on the sidewalk
Group meditation
Hanging around people who know who you are and are ok with it.
Having a discussion after watching a movie with others
Indie bands and coffee-shop performances
Living communally with others
Lying on my back staring up at the sky through the branches of a tree
Nighttime walks along the ocean
Receiving mail
Reducing our impact on mother earth
Sharing a home-cooked meal
Sharing conversation with friends over a beer
Singing in my car or in the shower
Trying anything once for the sheer experience of it.
Using my hands to perform a skill
Waking up before the sun rises
Watching campfires burn wood down into embers
Watching the sunset
Working outdoors
Woodworking

 

“Of Love,” by Mary Oliver

I have been in love more times than one,
thank the Lord. Sometimes it was lasting
whether active or not. Sometimes
it was all ephemeral, maybe only
an afternoon, but not less real for that.
They stay in my mind, these beautiful people,
or anyway beautiful people to me, of which
there are so many. You, and you, and you,
whom I had the fortune to meet, or maybe
missed. Love, love, love, it was the
core of my life, from which, of course, comes
the word for the heart. And, oh, have I mentioned
that some of them were men and some were women
and some—now carry my revelation with you—
were trees. Or places. Or music flying above
the names of their makers. Or clouds, or the sun
which was the first, and the best, the most
loyal for certain, who looked so faithfully into
my eyes every morning. So I imagine
such love of the world—its fervency, its shining, its
innocence and hunger to give of itself—I imagine
this is how it all began.

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