A COMPASSIONARY TALE

This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:12-13 (NLT)

A heavily studied belief in and understanding of Christianity, or the brazen lack thereof, is intrinsically woven through the fabric that is my belief in the Great Unknown. The bible is familiar to me, in the way a ring is still on your finger even after you’ve taken it off. So when Big Things happen in my life, oftentimes I remember a verse or two and smile at the return of my oddest and oldest spiritual friend.

One day, a few years ago whilst in the throes of religious fervor, I read an article with a new phrase—Golden Nuggets of Wisdom (GNW)—to describe the moment in which someone speaks something to you and the impact and power of what they have said resonates deeply in your soul, but barely means much of anything to them.

I had a GNW moment today (but contrary to my norm, I was on the receiving end). A friend who recently experienced the sharp pain that is heartbreak said this, “Because of you guys, I feel like my hurting divided into 4. Like I only had to deal with a quarter of the pain.” Immediately that verse from the Book of John flew into my mind and took on a gloriously rich new meaning.

Another day, a few years ago whilst still in the throes of religious fervor, I read yet another article that expanded my understanding of compassion. I had used the word often enough to that point knowing, but not knowing, what the word meant. I appreciate it more now and use it a lot less. Compassion isn’t about feeling bad for someone being in pain, compassion is suffering with them.

So when that friend said, to the 3 of us in our group chat, that we divided her pain in quarters, leaving her only a fraction of it to bear as her own, I further understood what it meant to be compassionate. I experienced, with an acute consciousness, what it meant to love one another in the same way that God loves us. Because she made me realize that, even without realizing it, I actively chose to lay down my life for someone—to lay down my disposition, my desires, my moods—and experience their life as my own.

For as long as we could and as long as she needed, the 3 of us suffered with her and transformed her pain into an experience of Grand Love. I dare say, we alchemized it into gold.

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THAT TIME I DECIDED UPON DELUSIONS INSTEAD FOR THE STORY, AT LEAST, FOR THE UNIVERSE

We smoked the screen to make it what it was to be. Now to know it in my memory… – Bon Iver

I should have just stayed away.

I knew it too. All along. That’s the worst, isn’t it? When you feel something so viscerally in your bones you can’t quite explain it or directly point to it but, it’s there. Like a ghost in your mind, haunting you as it floats back and forth, in and out. But no, it can’t be. No he must. No she isn’t. And so it begins, the lies we tell ourselves to keep the loves we want.

Of all of the terrible things in this world, at this moment, I feel as though hindsight is the most terrible. It rips away your self-pity, rips away the distractions you’ve piled high around yourself, rips away the shaky foundation you’re trying to stand tall on, and it says in its cruelest of voices, “Look, you tiny idiot. Look, you beautiful little fool. It was there all along. Right in front of your face.”

But, we smoke our screens. We cloud our glasses. We live in and out of our delusions because for the moment they are more beautiful than the truth. We forget all of the time that we craft our own realities, and life is never kind when our experiences are proven to be just that…our reality, our experience. Not the reality, not the true experience.

And from that moment forward, you can see nothing as the same. The jig is up, the fantasy ruined, the veil ripped, and all you are left to do is look. Over, and over, and over. Because what is passion without torture? Look at the text(s) that said it all. Look at the mouth that told explanations that raised your eyebrow. Look at the shoes you wore the last time you slept, beside them, soundly in your own ignorance. Look at your vacant eyes in the mirror and sigh at your pathetic reflection. Look at those moments, lies though they were, when you had a love in your arms. On your mouth. In your head. In your bones. At least. At least. At least.

Oh, the excuses, rationality, and delusions we cast upon our eyes, our hearts, our minds when we feel what we perceive to be love. Woe to the intense folk, the sensitive folk, the trusting folk, the hopeful folk. Woe always, forever and ever, for the lambs amongst the lions amongst the lambs.

And the most woe upon the little lamb that thought herself a lion as she ventured into the den, unafraid and willing and wanting.

EXIT 70

“…who shall say where one ends and the other begins?” – Edgar Allen Poe

It started in my ears, a Google alert.
It then went to my eyes, lingering lights and trucks.
It then went to my hands, quickly changing lanes.
It then went to my thoughts, “There’s water on the floor. Dear god, this is bad.”
It then went back to my hands, covering my open mouth.
It then went back to my eyes, stinging with tears.
It then went everywhere, the latent energy of it all—the fear, the frenzy, the desperation—washing over me in swift metallic strokes. Relentless and cold.

Thus began the counting backwards, “That could’ve been me. That’s my usual time.”

And at once, life was once again awful and once again beautiful.

I could stomach nothing but the ghostly reverb of Holocene, and hearing nothing new, I saw everything differently. The smooth ess-curves now harsh and unforgiving, I longed for the angular straights. For they were a soft place to get lost in thought. A place where I longed for nothing more than to just be out. Out of the car, out of my head, out of the ocean of all of the feelings and thoughts and ruminations.

And so began the calcifying effect of auto-pilot; the clenched jaw, the blank stare, the empty mind. An inner laugh at a desperate search for purpose wrapped up in FICO scores and unsent texts. An inner fight to stay present, to not relent into what would be easy. To remember long enough to record, to write it out, to share. An obsessive replay of words and phrases and phrases and words. A morbid muttering of memento mori.

And crossing the island, staring at ships on a harbor and cars on bridges and clusters of trees, this came forward: we are saved and slain in our small choices. The stop for coffee, the line for gas, the quick rush to the bathroom, the last minute email. We are spared to save, to play, to share, to love.

So here I am, seven feet deep crying for humanity; yours, mine, ours. Scooping up all of the stolen, stagnant love at Exit 70 and recycling it back to the universe, to us.

— Dedicated to whoever you are, I felt you. I love you.  —

LOVEOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION

We spend our entire lives studying in efforts to ensure success.

As young children, we study and learn the alphabet so we can communicate our needs and desires. As slightly older children, we spend 12 years of our lives in public and private systems to study and learn subjects, skills, and statistics that will help us in our futures. As young adults, we study and learn to pursue specific careers. As adults, we study and learn to stay in those careers. As spiritual seekers, we study and learn from a variety of texts and teachers to be the best human we can be. And as parents, we study and learn in order to not fail our children.

No matter what we pursue in life, we know that studying will lead to success.

So why then, when it comes to the hardest subject in the the world—love—do we feel as though we can just wing it? Why do we believe that we are well-equipped to handle relationships (marital, familial, platonic, etc.) just because we’re alive? Is it brain chemicals? movies? simply because no one talks about how hard it is? because no one knows how easy that hardness should be?

Yes, relationships are work. True love requires the abandonment of the ego, honest and loving communication, trust, loyalty, second chances, and a delicate balance of our fullest dedication to another human being and honoring our independent minds and free, wild hearts. It requires a bit of universe magic and a whole lot of maturity.

And when you think about the average teenager starting their mating process when their brains aren’t even fully fused together yet, you begin to wonder why we don’t teach a course about love alongside sex ed.

We have written about love for years, conducted science experiments to determine its roots and our own personal experiments of trial and error, and in light of all that, still don’t consider it a subject that warrants proper studying.

I am changing that. Well, for me at least.

Starting now—let’s be real, sometime in the near futureI am going to become a student of love and if I’m lucky, emerge a loveologist. I will read articles, books, conduct an interview or two, geek out over books and wine with friends in a loveology study group, and apply what I’ve learned in efforts to be a better coworker, sister, friend, aunt, and daughter. And in the future once again, girlfriend, then wife, then mother.

I’m going to promise to share my findings for two reasons: 1) writing is how I grow 2) my blog has been barren for far too long.

I am excited for this journey. Because everyone wants love. And if we give out a little more everywhere we go, everyone lights up.

MEMO RE: A CAFFEINATED SPARK

Subways and crashing waves and cicadas were the soundtrack

To nights spent under trees and stars and skyscrapers

Where cold hands clutched colder hands

And Instagrammed memories seared onto my soul.

He guided me away from past associations

And led me back to my wild heart

Yet through it all we remained unable to attain

A full sense of each other as one.

And so it went

Ripped apart, a holy day,

Then loose ends tied back together.

Ancient paths lay between us and

Fate’s strings led our swift birth and slow death as

We were created to destroy

Old ties and birth new beginnings and

To take one another to grand heights and new lows.

And though it is true that now

My heart is with another, his arms around one too

I still wonder if I will ever lose this taste

Of my mouth wondering why covenants cannot be broken.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE?

I wonder what it was like inventing romance;
to be the first to put your hand in someone else’s;
to touch a bit of their life;
to invent holding hands.

I wonder what it was like to first think,
“What if we held each other for a short period of time?”
to invent hugging.

I wonder what it was like to first wonder,
“What would happen if I put my mouth to yours?”
to invent kissing.

I wonder what it was like to feel so strongly about someone that you figure you love them;
to invent pouring your heart out.

I wonder what it was like to be the catalyst behind art of so many different forms.
to have invented love.

A BATTLE OF CONSCIOUSNESS

“Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by Regina George.”

Jokes aside, let’s talk about egos. The creators of black and white thinking, us versus them, and all other me-centric fear-based behavior. The ego smashes happiness, creates a toxic environment where love cannot grow, and keeps you away from living the life you deserve.

I’ll offer myself up as an example. I have been on-and-off blogging since my junior year in college. [That’s 4 and a half years, for those of you not privy to my age.] You’d think that by now, I’d have a consistent following and/or thousands of posts. But alas, I do not.

Not for lack of time. Not for lack of insight or grievous grammatical errors or an empty wellspring of ideas. Quite honestly, I often find myself on the brink of a great idea, midway through a post deleting the draft and closing the window or attacking every phrase with the backspace button. But why?

The sad truth is that the only reason I do not write regularly is entirely due to an over-infestation of ego-based thoughts roaming around my subconscious.

Let’s use the thirty minutes prior to posting these very words as an example:

Ego: I have nothing to say.
Truth: You’re constantly ruminating on life and the human experience. You have, at the very least, one poignant conversation a day. The posts that begin in your head only seem inadequate to take up space on this infinite home of ideas, 1’s and 0’s we call the Internet because your ego says they are. The idea’s point of origin finds it quite remarkable. Write furiously…and do it now.

Ego: Who am I to write like I’m some sort of expert?
Truth: No one knows your life better than you. You are an expert on you. And after all, we all only write about our own thoughts, be they imagined or about life that is unfolding in the physical realm. Your experiences have the power to meld with another person’s experiences and create an amazing chain reaction of life, love, light, and beauty. Who are you to hold back such potential wonder?

Ego: No one will read it.
Truth: The person who needs to read it most will stumble upon it in the most miraculous way. Have faith in the flow and just write.

When we live our lives based on what our ego tells us, we deprive ourselves and others of the gifts and stories we possess deep within.

Moral of the Story: As a collective whole, we need to say, “Oh ego, just relax. Shush with your tiny mad ideas. I’m going for it.” a lot more often. Let’s begin to silence fear and jump on board the Love Train every day. After all, it’s due time we got on board.

LITTLE SPARK

“What makes for a better relationship: passion or dedication?”

Cursor goes up and down between the two like the stock market went in 2008. Up down. Up down. Zig zag. Zig zag. This one; no that one.

I chose dedication; it was a lie. More so a half-truth.

Maybe I am idealistic, maybe I am a bit naive. But why does society pit passion against dedication and say, “Pick one.” Why are the two mutually exclusive?

Why does it make me unreasonable to want the passion of a Latin lover with the dedication of an American Puritan? 

I have my theories: love becomes more complicated when you have to stir multiple pots at once. Flitting from love affair to love affair in hot pursuit of passion is much easier than being in hot pursuit of passion with the one affair you dedicated yourself to.

It is easier to flee before the dirty socks that never find themselves to the hamper. It is easier to wear sweats day in and day out than to remember to relish and cultivate sexy moments that once were so frequent.

Maybe it is time we admit we are all a little lazy in love. Maybe it is time we admit we do not want to stir two pots. Maybe it is time to fire the agency in charge of marketing the “passionate dedication of yourself to another” and find a new one.

Maybe it could be us instead.