Love is (4 of 10)

Love is the separation of duty from voluntary action. Love is choice. Love is looking at another and saying “I choose you.” Not just “I do this because I must” or “Because I cannot see any other way to live my life right now.” Love is “I make time for you.” Love is “I give up for you.” Love is sacrifice. Love is voluntarism in action. Love is discipline, and care and concern. Love is truth and justice at once. Love is to see the good and seek out the bad. To observe, not ignore. not to justify, either, those things which are wrong – but to admit the wrongness – to realize the wrongness – to acknowledge the deficiency and to wait for it. Love is to send one’s heart into the abyss, not knowing whether it will return, but whether or not it does is not the issue. The issue is the sending out – the excessing – the exuding – the extruding – of the things which once held us back and yet now free us to greater exploration of self.

Love is inspiration. Love is adoration. Love is trepidation and apprehension. Love is to hope and fear; to hope for good, to fear that same good. For how unlikely is it that both the good and the bad do not come together? For so much good that there is, must not there also be bad, poor, miscontent, malcontent, to balance it out?

Love is balance. Love is peace. Love is trust and it is distrust and it is jealousy and it is protection and it is determination and it is absolution of the wrongs and penance for the sights. Love is trust; love is jealously. Love is to see your lover in the arms of another and want to end your own life at the thought of missing out on that touch. Love is determination. Perspiration. Inspiration and to believe that there will be better to come, because of love, despite love, in response to love, as a result of love. As a result of fear. As a result of impropriety and reconciliation, as a result of recognition and reparations.

Love is there. It is here. It fills and drains. It empties itself of all thought. It consumes, it subsumes, it burdens and relieves from all burden. Love is these things and more. And nothing at all. Love shall keep us alive. And it shall kill us – take us – eliminate us – remove us – it makes us. Love is degenerative, destructive. Supportive and stringent and supplicant. Love is the way we relate to the non-animals, the un-beasts of this world. The lower forms – the ox and ass and centipede and lichen – they react to the world. Stimulus – response. Action – reaction. They are not loving creatures. They cannot determine that separation between must and can. I can do this for you. I must do that for some other reason. Only one is love. The other may be devotion. It may be duty. It may be appreciation. But it is not love. Love is a choice – an all-encompassing, an enforcing, an engaging, an enraging choice. Love is a choice, and one which we will do well not to take lightly. For those who disregard love’s strength find themselves burdened – struck down – incapacitated under the weight. The weight of a hundred elephants standing end to end, pressing down on your chest. Suffocating, sterilizing, purifying. Beware – beware of love – give it not lightly. Receive it not lightly. Do both at your own peril.

Love is (3 of 10)

Love is…

“Abandon all Hope, Ye who enter Here” painted on to an old plywood signboard and then staked into the ground outside a dirty, dusty, dark mine shaft. There may be wonder and treasure inside. Then again, there is certain danger. There is opportunity balanced agains the risks you take by entering. Do you have a light? Something to show your way in the dark of the evening? Do you have a map, perhaps, to give you some structure to where you’re going? Do you have rations? Can you sustain yourself as you travel further and further into the abyss of ‘love’, of ‘lust’, of “like” and “care and concern” and “intimacy”? Do you have an emergency beacon? Do you have a homing device that can retrieve you and your location, should you become separated from your party? No? Do you have nothing? Why then do you come so unprepared, into this endeavor?

Do you even have proper attire, such as sturdy boots, warm layers, even a protective helmet? Yes, all of those apply to caving, to exploring, to minds, but why should they not apply to love? Do you not need the equipment, the shoes and boots and helmet, to protect you from the rough edges inside? Roughness like getting used to the quirks of daily life. Roughness like finding out the history of her past that she still carries around with her, dropping nuggets on your head from higher and higher heights, impacting you like the hidden rockfall that could be nothing, could just be a glancing blow, or could end up tearing an inch wide gash across your forehead, one that won’t stop bleeding no matter how much you press that cold compress, no matter how tightly you wrap that bandage.

Do you not need a map? A guide? One that says “she does not appreciate that, steer clear; on the other hand, that ledge, that line of questioning, is perilous, for it leads to the hidden, secret chambers where the monsters are chained. Beware your step, for once they scent fresh meat they tend to move quickly, for their hunger to devour is much, much greater than the strength of the iron shackles and chains holding them back. In moments they will tear the bolts from the rock walls holding them; they will come lumbering, speeding, scuttling after you; will then and relentlessly pursue you; will devour you and consume you and spit you back out upon the floor of their pit through their anus, having taken all the good of you and leaving you with the bones and sinew that are good for nothing. Those demons, those monsters, Stay Away. 

Here… this path… this one will take you through to the other side. No, you will not explore everywhere. No, you will not be able to satisfy your curiosity about the potential lead off in that direction. no, you will not have so much thrill as you would have otherwise. But – you will come out alive. Her? She’s fine. She’s always been there and she will be there after you. you, my friend, you, gentle reader, must be cognizant of your own safety. You can give no court (no communion) (no something or other) with those areas which are too dangerous for you.You, for your own sake, must stalk forward. Task AT HAND. Par for the course. Don’t get fancy. Don’t risk it all on that gamble. It’s not worth it. It’s really not. There are many other, more worthy hills to battle for and die upon. This one is not that one. This one is not your calling. Leave that to the experts. Leave that to the men and women who are equipped for such dangerous work. Leave it alone, rookie, amateur, newbie; leave it alone, and, perhaps, just perhaps, when we return triumphant with the heads of those demons atop our pikes, perhaps we will indulge you then with a story or two. But remember – we cannot tell you tales if there is no you to speak to! So be careful, little one. It’s a dangerous adventure. You don’t want to get caught unguarded. Good luck. Best of show. And may the grace of the Fates be with you.

Love is (2 of 10)

Love is…

Love is a verb. Love is not a thing but a do. A doing. A state of existence. Love is sacrifice and heartache together at once. Love demands to be fulfilled, and expects their demands to be met. Love cares. More than care. Love fulfills. Love rushes. Love pulls. Love pushes to a higher order of being. Love pulls back from the brink when it is too dangerous. Love pushes again to the edge; love leans out over the expanse and wonders how much infinity weighs during the drop. Love limits nothing, restrains nothing. Love asks for truth and gives it. Love turns a blind eye, not because of fear, but because of fraud.
This one got cut off in the middle of my planned time. I didn’t get a chance to continue the thought, which is a little disappointing. Fraud? That’s the word I was working on? I wonder where that would have gone.

I like the imagery there of falling into a void, and weighing infinity. I would like to see what comes out of that if I were to pursue it further some time.

Love Is (1 of 10)

A while ago she asked me what love means to me. I have done some free writing on that topic. 10 sessions on that, to be frank. I’d like to share them.
Love is…

Love is unreal. It defies nature and nature’s god. It is an emotion and a state of being and a mountaintop of hope. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things? No. That is devotion, which is not love. devotion is single-minded. Devotion is “yes Ma’am” and “no Sir” and “right away boss.” That is not love.

Love is “I will, because you ask.” Love is “I will not, even though you beg.” Love is light in the brightest day. Light in the night is easy. it doesn’t mean anything. It has no setting up that tells it how to live, how to be. How to breathe. But light in the day, when it must be blinding, glaring, overwhelming just to be noticed, is love.

Love is patient and kind. Nope again. That is obedience. That is duty. Love is not to allow those under your care to have their innocence ripped away along with their hymens. Love is not to turn the other cheek – [illegible]. Oh, those may be love, but not love for another. No, that is love for the self, that is love to secure one’s place in the Heavens. That is, perhaps, a love of God, but it is not a love of another. Love for another is when you are willing to take the bad to get to the good. Nope. Love is when you demand the bad in order to balance out the impossibly good. Love is determined, love is not boastful or rude. Nope. Love makes the loudest screech the world knows. Love makes the world hear.

Love makes the world go round? Wrong again, boyo. Love is a fancy chemical by-product of an evolutionary process that has resulted in these meatbags being able to comprehend a higher order experience, something somehow greater than simply existence and replication and to identify that not only in oneself but in another, not only to recognize that in the other but inexplicably draw out words to describe it, words that cannot begin to contain it, this emotion, this experience, this chemical reaction that cascades from the [ilegible] to the hypothalamus across the limbic cortex into the frontal lobe and finally to the spleen or the liver or the gall bladder or something, some receptacle where the excess serotonin and dopamine and Igbo-whatever-it all cascades from the highest point and waterfalls down to those river depths triggering reactions all along the way. 

They are there and they are here, and we, we, inexplicably, understandably (because we learned over time) have need to explain the inner workings of the body, like we have a need to explain the outer workings of the cosmos) we lead them to think of this as something we have decided on, something we control, something we need and desire and this is because of when we [illegible] it all is nothing more than a chemical reaction designed, or rather, evolved, to help ensure the production of our DNA inside these meatbags.

Congratulations, Stephan. You just fucked up love. Way to go. Hope you’re happy with yourself. Well done, asshole.

You asked…

How do you fill my cup?

You fill my cup when you listen to me. When you encourage me to make the changes I want. When you hear me read something and you say “that’s beautiful.”

You fill my cup when I share something with you and you thank me. When I hold a door for you and you thank me. When I come over and you are there, smiling, smiling with your eyes not just your mouth, smiling so that the little crinkles at the corners turn up instead of down, you fill my cup.

You fill my cup when you want me. When all you can do is think about me – and you tell me – and I know you’re not just saying it to get a reaction but because you mean it. You fill my cup when you tell me I have the perfect body parts for you. You fill my cup when you kiss me — and don’t stop.

You fill my cup when you tell me you miss me. When you hold me. When you don’t want to let me go. When it’s only been a few hours since you’ve seen me, and yet you can’t wait to see me again. You fill my cup to the rim, to overflow, to covering the seas and the mountains with affection, to gushing out across the fabric of space and time, stretching to infinity and beyond.

How do you fill my cup?

By being you. By just being you.

Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop.

Describe a Tree

Writing practice 6/28/2017

Describe a Tree

It would be easy to use colors, shapes, locations. It would be easy to use words like stretching; reaching; bound to the ground. It would be simplistic and reductionist to be mighty, or rigid, or firm, or majestic. These are all descriptions. But they are not the tree.

The tree is first and foremost a being. A living thing. It takes in energy and expels waste. It metabolizes. It pushes water up and out. It is active. It flows in the wind; it catches the rain. It trickles the snows down to the ground little-by-little, in chufts and tufts and blemps. It holds back the sky in protection of the slight, vulnerable grasses below it. It is a waystation for weary migrationists. It is a skyscraper for miniature earth-dwellers. It is a source of safety, nourishment, calm, peace to the squirrels and owls and snakes. It is an integral part of the ecosystem and it is an integral part of the forest society. Without the tree all things revert to the tiny mole-like creatures we evolved from. Without the tree standing us an example we have no ambition to develop, to build, to grow higher. We would live in two dimensions, along the surface only, we become content, never knowing what we were missing. Without the tree, too, we would have no rests for birds, and no reason for them to take flight. All of life would be confined to the surface, in direct contradiction to what we have already experienced.

But the tree is also a block. It is a hindrance to some other kind of development of this world which may have occurred, in the absence of trees. What could have been? Everything and almost nothing at all. In the absence of trees, might the snails have taken over? Grown to be ten feet tall and bulletproof? In Without trees, might humanity not have evolved to still be horizontally arm walkers, knuckle-draggers still down like the lowland gorilla, but with a superior intelligence, sense of self, sense of community and society and time? Without trees, where would we have found building materials? What lighter-than-water would we have made our ships from? How could we, even without standing upright, have imagined to float on the surface of the ocean were it not for the example of the logs we saw careening down the swollen river after the torrents came? How could we have developed so differently?

How might we have been the same? The trees are an essential element of our world. Of all our worlds. They do more than simply cleanse the air, cleanse the CO2 out and put the O2 back. They inspire us. They regulate us. They stand us silent witness for the atrocities committed between their trunks, and as silent validation of all the redemptive good done in the same spaces. The trees are our friends. They are our enemies. They are neutral to us, and we treat them with contempt. We ignore their needs in favor of our own, and they take the abuse like any good servant would. They provide more love, more for us than we do for them, and our selfishness is repaid not in justice, for it would be justice if the trees were to revolt, to burn our stone cities to the ground along with the skeletons of their dead relatives, it would be right for them to do so for the ignominity with which we reward their servitude, but they do not do that. They are better than that. They love more than that. We should strive to emulate them, not require the opposite.

Writing Practice – 6/8/2017

Not all of my writing practice turns out great. This one wasn’t so hot. I’m sharing it because, well, that’s a much more real picture of what goes into writing than just showing you the refined, selected parts that “looks good”.

tell about putting your mother in a home

On an otherwise beautiful day we approach the shelter. Not so much a castle as a fortress. A virtually impenetrable waste of space that, instead of making a place for caring, for help, for hope, for nurture, has become in my mind, in her mind, a burden. It has transformed from the unlikely to the inevitable, and with the change there is no reason to think that it will be welcoming and comforting when we take mother there and move in. She would rather stay with us, I know. Even more, she would like to stay at her own place. But, realistically, she is not safe there. And while her physical health is somewhat deteriorating (it wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t, obviously), but the greater issue is my own, and my wife’s mental health. We spend far too much time and effort thinking of what she’s doing, and how she’s being, and whether she has had lunch or fallen or perhaps forgotten to take her diabetes medication after all those reminders you put up on the post-it notes all over anywhere.

So, what else is there? Hatred, distrust; fear of the staff. Disappointment at me, true; but she hasn’t said that. She probably won’t say it  – she’s a mom, after all, and moms generally don’t like to harm their sons, so I expect she’ll keep it bottled up and not say anything at all. She’ll just sit in her chair, shoulders slumping, hand shakily waving in the way she has had in the last year or so, and she’ll tell me “oh, no, it’s all right, I understand. Besides, it’s been hard with Jim gone, I barely know what to do with myself during the days anyway. This could be good for me, and I can learn how to play a couple of board games. You know, I think they’ve even got a trip planned to the Chicago Pier next month. I think I’ll see if I can sign up for that.” She’s putting on a reasonable show, but I know it hurts her.

It hurts that she’s getting old. It hurts that she’s forgetting. and it hurts that she doesn’t see the impact she has on us. She says she sees it – but because she doesn’t see those quiet moments, when my wife cries in the shower, or I go and punch the beanbag in the closet, or when the kids start to beg off going to visit grandma because they think her house stinks, I just can’t bring myself to tell her the truth. That it’s okay for her to go live there. That even more, even more morbid I would be okay for her to just die. Wow, that sounds harsh. “Die”. Pass away, move on, depart. Those are all softer, gentler. Aren’t they also deceptive? Aren’t they also ignoring the reality of what death is?

Aren’t they papering over the harshness, the suddenness of death? Die – a barking syllable – so quiet, so abrupt, like the act itself. Die.

So, you see it?

Commentary: why didn’t I like this writing exercise? I guess, looking back, I never felt in a flow. I felt like I was trying. Like I was working at it, rather than letting it happen. I had some images in my mind, about the abruptness of death and how we contrast that with the soft words we use to describe it, about the cognitive dissonance we actively create by using such pretty language to describe the dying process. But I didn’t get there. I didn’t lose control. I didn’t go for the jugular. I simply stopped, not even when I was satisfied, but I just…Stopped. So I think the dissatisfaction of the exercise was that I never really felt like it completed. Like sex that approaches orgasm, but never quite gets to the top of the mountain, so to speak. I could see the end: I had a bit of a vision in sight. I just gave up.

So that’s why it wasn’t a great experience. But it’s real to tell you that not all writing is great. More often than not it’s not great. It’s not polished. It doesn’t flow.

But that’s why I write. I write the bad days to get to the good days. I write the shit work to get to the gravy wall [ask my dad about that one]. I haul hundred-pound loads nine-tenths of the way up a mountain, with the end in sight, just to give up and turn around more often than I complete the journey. But when I do– Damn, nothing feels quite like that.