How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Outside Fermi’s Paradox

My address for Sunday Assembly NYC on 2/2. The theme was modern love and I was on stage with Leighann Lord, Syd LeRoy and Glen Raphael. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot from everyone I shared the stage with. I’m forever grateful for the experience.

Here’s a wonderful piece of advice about love. It was never given to me. It was given to a woman I saw in a photograph. Brandon Stanton, the photographer who does Humans of New York, was taking pictures in the pouring rain and this woman, maybe in her 80’s or 90’s, let him take shelter under her umbrella. She then said to him, “When he was dying, I said: ‘Moe, how am I going to live without you?’ He answered: ‘Take the love you have for me, and spread it around.”

I am very happily married to a wonderful man and I know this moment will happen with us someday. Someday one of us will wonder how to live without the other. It’s an enviable place. Holding someone’s hand and realizing there is so much love between you, that when they go, you have this wealth of love that feels lost.

And that moment happens to us more than once. With family and friends, all throughout our lives we have this bouquet of shared experiences and dreams that grow. I remember living in a cul de sac in Los Angeles and my landlady passing at 92. She had no real biological family at the time. But those of us living in that cul de sac, we were a neighborhood holding her hand and realizing we had all this love we shared with her. An enviable place.

Take the love you have for me and spread it around.

Which obviously leads me to Fermi’s Paradox. I’m a numbers girl and I feel very uncomfortable with emotions. So since that was about emotion, I’m going to tell you about numbers. Something I also don’t understand but will gladly talk about as if I do.

Fermi’s Paradox is the frustratingly high probability of the existence of alien life and humanity’s lack of contact with, or evidence for, such life forms. You can see how this applies to love: the frustratingly high probability of falling in true love and a person’s lack of contact with, or evidence for, such true love.

Enter Drake’s Equation. An actual equation guesstimating the odds of finding extraterrestrial life. And have you seen the dating hackers? People who use this equation to compute their probabilities of finding love in their city and then go down this path to create algorithms to find a perfect match on dating sites? I want to say it’s not creepy. It’s logical. Like Spock. I met my husband online and I’m not going to say I hacked the dating site through numbers, probabilities and light stalking. I’m just going to say it’s not creepy.

Anyway, my struggle has always been the numbers of love. Even though I got the mathematically correct mate, I still run the numbers every day on my social events, trying to find the “one” of restaurants in NYC. I run the numbers on the Career, capital C. I spend a lot of energy finding the variables, the constants, plugging it all in and analyzing. This has led me to some fantastic calculations on improving your odds of finding true love:

The use of alcohol to improve probability is not a positive constant. It is a negative variable.

Finding love when you are not looking for it is mathematically impossible.

Accepting someone at their worst when their worst is really, really annoying is creating an unacceptable variable in your calculations of finding a mate.

That’s where my energy goes. And then I find a mate and I calm down on the numbers. What if that energy I’m expending with numbers is actually that love trying to go somewhere?

So now let’s go back to our wonderful lady with the umbrella. “Take the love you have for me, and spread it around.” Let’s kind of reverse engineer that. If you love someone, there is still love after they are gone. This means there is likely love before you met. Before you met that wonderful person who cultivated all this love with you, you still had that love to give. It’s an energy inside you.

A pregnant woman is a great example. You have all this love growing and you know exactly who is going manifest it with you. So you build it up, day by day with, say, loved ones talking at your belly, eating healthy food, putting headphones on (your stomach and) playing good music like Mozart or the Muppets. And then the baby is born. That’s this magical love spell completely physical from start to finish.

And really, all love is like that. We cultivate it, it happens, we live with it, create that loving bond together and then….that enviable moment. This woman created that with someone named Moe. She succeeded in finding true love and then falling in love with the world. So, if love is an energy and it always exists, all that love you have before you fall in love, and I mean fall in love with all of your passions be they people, places or actions, it’s there, in you and in me, now, and we can spread it around.

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