Man is but all the lives and loves he has gained and lost.
In many ways, I think this is both true and false. It is true because we are indeed an accumulation of all the lives that have once intersected with ours, lighting our own little corners of the universe, even if just for a little while, with their stories of joy and sorrow, hope and loss. We are indeed all the loves we have had the privilege of being the recipient of, basking in its warmth and cherishing it, being nourished by it and learning from it. We are all these things that we have gained and kept over the years—the little anecdotes and inside jokes, the fleeting moments that come to mean more than they should in hindsight, the milestones we achieve with our loved ones by our sides—we are all these things worth keeping and worth remembering.
At the same time, we are also all the lives that have diverged from ours after their appointed times of influence are over. We are the memories left behind from a life well lived and well loved, mementos of an epoch that has come and gone, the evidence of which only exist and kept alive in the hearts of those who lived to tell the tale. We are, indeed, all the loves who have slipped through our fingertips—whether by our own accord or simply by fate’s cruel strings. We are the careless whispers into the night, begging for just one more glimpse of a familiar face, the warmth of a once comforting touch, or the contentment in the silence filled with appreciation and just being there. We are all these things we have lost and seek to find again; we are all these refractions of the past dancing across the pathway of our present.
We are also all the lives and loves we have yet to meet: the distant beckoning of a new adventure; the barely-grasped inklings of a time and space yet to be revealed to us; the uncharted waters that beg to be sailed upon. We, fragile and infinitesimal as we are in the grand scheme of things, are all these precious and precarious things. We are the sum total of it all—the bits and pieces that make up the whole; the fractures of our brokenness and wholeness coming together to create us.
However, it is also false because that is not all we are. For as much as we are given and invested upon, we are also the life and love we give away. We are the pieces of ourselves that we give to others despite knowing that we will never get those pieces back. We are the parts of ourselves that live among the lives we have touched and who, because of our love, will never be the same. We are the moments we choose to stay; we are the loves we choose to let go.
Man is but all the lives and loves he has gained and lost—but he is also the life and love that he has given and lost.