Writing Practice – 3/18/2018 – Concerning Happiness

Prompt: How far would you go to achieve your happiness?

I admit- this may be limiting me. But I won’t push past the boundaries of another’s satisfaction or happiness in life to achieve my own. If it requires me to leave a wake of destruction in my path to achieve that “happiness”, then I have the wrong idea of happiness or the wrong idea of the ideal.

I should not have to go to such great lengths, either. I should be able to find happiness wherever I am, whenever I am, without needing to search and seek and journey. I should be able to get to a level of happiness by my everyday interactions – by the things I am doing for myself, for my children, for my community, for my nation, for my world.

I should not need to look far. I am and should find happiness in the alarm clock – in the running shoes. In the dirty dishes, that transform themselves under my great care and safe tutelage into sparkling clean ones.

I should find happiness in a well-folded shirt. In an empty e-mail inbox. In a to-do list completely crossed off. In watching my son hit a double. In reading a story my daughter has written. In throwing crusts of bread, in throwing the whole piece out for the squirrels and the chipmunks and the sparrows and chickadees.

I should find happiness in the pen – in using it dry from my words on the push. I should find happiness win a well-covered page. I should find happiness in a well-read book. In a philosophical insight. In a historical lesson I can only now understand.

I should find happiness in ladybugs – in empty wine glasses – in watermelon rinds and runny noses on a winter’s morning. I should find happiness in a lit candle, burning to fend off to ward off to beat away the darkness of night.

I should find happiness in a hug from my mother. In a smile from my brother. In the touch of my lover. In the morning wind, in the stinging rain, in a subway car too full for me to squeeze in. I should find happiness in an evening newscast, and in laying my head on the pillow at night.

And – I should – So I Do.

What is love? (Postscript)

So, over the past 10 writing practice sessions I have been exploring what love means to me. So what does it mean? What did I learn? Remember – those sessions were not planned. They were spur of the moment; they were following a thread of emotion or thought. They may not represent reality for me always, but they DO represent what I thought right then. In order to figure that out what it all means, I have taken some time to organize my thoughts.

Well – love is messy. Love is fraught with danger. Love has great potential for risk, great opportunity for reward.

Love is also beautiful – endearing – satisfying like a cool stream in the middle of summer. Love is the comfort of a lover’s hand in yours as you walk. Love is sitting quietly reading a book on the couch while your lover does the same, or does something completely different. Love is trust – trust of another, and trust of yourself. trust in the growth you both are experiencing. Trust in the words that were said, in the feelings that remain hidden.

Love is valuable. Love is a treasure, to be searched for and sought out. Love is a purity, a great price. And it should not be given lightly, and should not be valued as a gaudy, plastic bauble. It should be viewed as a gleaming lamp set upon the highest hill, a beacon calling out to all those who hurt, who fear, who hesitate. It says “come to me, and rest here. It might not be easy, no. It will have heartache. It will have disappointment. It will have highs and lows, higher than you dreamed and lower than you believed you could survive. It will be wonderful and terrible. But it will be worth it. It will be precious, and encouraging, and essential to you. It will lead you on, and on, and on. It won’t be easy. It will be worth it.”

So – Love. What is it?

Love is … worth it.

Love is (10 of 10)

Love is…

Love is growing a garden and being able to do it without saying a thing. Love is a partnership in which one supports another through good times and better. Love expands. It is not restrained by rib cage, or heart cavity, or space, or capacity. I may love one, and yet also love another. Love does not limit itself; it is not bound by the conventions of the physical world. Love is truth encompassing a lie. Love separates in order to build up and reintegrate that which it has once separated.

Love believes in the other – it watches the other to see the small changes that even it did not know were present. Love is caring and concern. Love is causing a tear in your lover’s eye, and kissing it away. Love is causing the next one, and still letting it linger, glistening on the edge, waiting for redemption that does not come. Love is the way we whisper into the ear in an embrace. Love is kissing her under her chin when all you want to do is walk away.

Love is walking away when you want to stay. Love is staying when you want to shout in exasperation. Love is shouting when what is needed is the most gentle touch on a shoulder. Love is a gentle touch when really, what you need is a blindfold, candles, and a towel to catch the mess. Love is a blindfold when you ask for it. Love is a safe word. Love is a dangerous word. Love is an intimidating phrase, love is the destruction of pretense; love is the hope of glory and the glory of hope.

Love is a high culmination of feeling, of emotion, of trust. Love is dangerous. Love is treachery. Love is deception. Love is revelation.

Love has no bounds, no rules, no stigma, no “should”. No Shame. No regret. No fear. No wimpiness. No fear, no doubt, no hazard, no morality, no immorality, no loss, no gain, no win, no pain. Love has a core [illegible] center more precious than diamon – love has a covering more valuable than titanium. Love preserves. Love believes. Love win.

Love is (9 of 10)

Love is…

Love is passion, emotion. Love is a kiss, love is holding hands as you walk. Love is a caress on the shoulder when things have not gone well. Love is a gentle squeeze of the arm when it is a perfect night, sitting on a blanket, relaxing under the stars, thinking of nothing, experiencing the peace of time together.

Love is a kiss, soft as the warm summer breeze, lifting the fall of hair from off your temple. Love is the weight of the world’s cares fading into the background of the cicadas, as you stare at your lover’s eyes and wish you could dive into and never return. Love is temporary, but powerful. Love is the way you think about another, not only how you act, and not only how you think but how you talk. How you breathe. How you lie still.

Love is waiting. Love is caution. Love is tentative steps forward, as you wonder just what it is you’ve gotten yourself into. Love is hoping; praying? Demanding, begging. Pleading. Asking, and waiting for an answer.

Love is accepting that answer, even when it is not the one you want to hear. Especially when it is not the one you wanted to hear.

Love is asking again. And hearing the same answer. And asking yet again, and hearing even more of the same. Love is perseverance, faithfulness. Love is patience. As much as it is a virtue, at times it is a burden, too. Move on? Not from love. Forget about her? Never, with love. Pretend you are better off without him? Impossible once love has reared its head between you two.

Love is a dance. Occasionally you lead – you direct the path of the other. At times you follow – she knows how to navigate the paths surrounding. Most of the time, though, there is a mutual uncertainty, a parallel discovering of what might be – what was – what we wish would never be again. Most of the time, it is this trepidation, this fear, this unknown and unknowable that leads both into the maze of emotion, of feeling, of give and take, of, frankly, heartbreak.

Love is there. It is here. It is invisible and impossible to ignore at the once. It is inviolable and irrefutable and ignorant and naive and bullheaded and wistful and selfish and destructive and violent and soft, gentle, a rain on a daisy. Love is true, and false. Love is patient and impulsive. Love rushes forward, and then hits the brakes hard. Love tears down, builds up, encourages and demeans. Love is in all, and through all, and absent from the void. Love is…

Love is not. It is the great everything and the miniscule nothing. Love is? No. We are. We are. We may love, but love is not. We are. We. Us.

What is love? (8 of 10)

Why do we ask? Why do we put labels, definitions on this emotion? Is it because everyone has such a varied experience of it? Or, rather, instead, maybe it is because everything that we experience label it as is inadequate to describe that emotion? We use language which is not up to the task. How can my words convey, in you, the reader, the same things within my heart I feel? How could it possibly? Even were I to be successful in the first formulation – that of what I experience – into a written description which resonates with my own heart, my own emotion ,my own soul – even if I am able to SOMEHOW find words to express the depth of what I’ve felt – the breadth of how my experience has gone – the width of how far I wish to stretch my arms in order to encompass the feeling – even if I were, against the odds, able to share this, able to transcribe, able to capture (for that must be the right descriptive – capture – as if my feelings are a wild, [illegible] animal dangerous and roaming free on the savannah) even if I were able to capture that word, that desire, that joy, that openness, that lightheadedness, that world beyond sound and experience and smell and taste and touch – even if, If…IF I were able to detail, adequately, the impact of action, I know, know KNOW that without a doubt it would not, can not, should not, must not evoke the same and likely not even similar feelings within you, for my experiences are not yours. My heart is not your heart. My spirit is not your spirit. My past is not your past. And so we cannot read the same thing and interpret, feel, emote, move in the same way. Were I to read back what I wrote, I would be reminded of my experience. If you were to read what I wrote, you would be reminded of the [illegible] experiences in your shared history. Perhaps they are similar to mine. Perhaps they evoke radically different thoughts – memories – reflection. Perhaps it means nothing at all to you, and thus you decide to ignore it altogether. Perhaps it gets you close, but not quite there – Perhaps it is one of those “almost to orgasm” moments in which you have all of the built-up pleasure but none of the final climax. Perhaps it means exactly the opposite to you as it does to me. And thus one can never completely, adequately, fully share in this experience of love, of like, of hate.

So, then. Why do you ask me of love? Shall I disappoint you and tell you what it means to me, so you can misinterpret, fabricate, obfuscate your way out of understanding for yourself? or rather, and I think this is what I shall do – shall I tell you, “I know, but it is for you to discover on your own –“? Yes, I rather like that. That shall do for now. 

Good bye. Good Bye. GOODBYE!!!

What is Love? (7 of 10)

So you see, it’s like this. Sometimes, you like someone. You want good things for them. You want to see them happy. You want to see them healthy. And so you hope for those good things for them. You ask, concerned, when you see them, how things are going, and when they complain, you commiserate. You say, “Oh, that’s terrible. Oh, how can I help? Oh, can I pray for you?” You say nice things, and if that person offers up something for you to do, you do it. You wear a smile. You show up early. You give her a hug afterwards. You follow-up with a phone call a couple of days later. You write a letter encouraging your friend a week later, and ensure that there is extra postage on it so that it’s guaranteed to get there. You care. You do. But you don’t really love.

In the next step, you love. In this, you not only care, you try. You go out of your way. You not only call, you come over and bring soup. You lay her down on the bed and sit with her while she is throwing up. You run a cool bath and give her the time she needs to relax, to cool down, to reset. You wait; you give of Yourself. You let go of you for a little bit. You are more than a friend. You are a lover. You care. You care. You are part of life, and you become integral.

Finally, though, the last step is LOVE. Before was love, which was an emotion – a good feeling. After that – even further – down the line is LOVE. Not just sacrificing – not just giving up a little bit. This LOVE is more than just standing separate and encouraging. This part is integration. This is to take on another’s burden as your own. This is to become part of another – to have another become part of you. To segregate would, instead of bringing a split, would require a rending – a tearing. A dissolution. This is not easy. This does not just happen. This is an act, a practice, a process, which will not go down quickly. This will not be easy. Because it is not a coming near, as is like. It is not a coming alongside, as is Love. It is LOVE, which is a blending and an integration and a connection deeper than a physical one. It is a way to live, not just living. It is goals and dreams, hopes and aspirations, trepidations and fears. It is widespread panic infused with terminal calm. It is a terror of the heart; it is a torture of the soul. So – what is love? Who can tell?

What is love? (6 of 10)

Why? Who wants to know? Are you asking about how I loved in the past? That was easy – sacrifice. Ignorance of self. In fact, it may have been more like self-loathing or self-despite, despise, rather than love for the other. What I did I did to keep the peace, not because I necessarily loved. What I did I did because I wished to serve another, not to glorify another. I “loved” God, so I did what God said to do. I did not desire to do what I did – I did not yearn for the kind of lifestyle I lived. I yearned for acceptance, for adoration, from those who I respected, admired, looked up to. I wished for them to tell me “well done, good and faithful servant,” in a proxy voice standing in for the God I worshiped. Did I love the actions I did? Purity. Witness. Study and learn. No. Did I live for them? Yes. But was it love?

I “loved” Jen by giving her the things she wanted. I loved her by accepting her decisions ion items. I loved her by kowtowing when we had a fight. I backed off. “Okay, you’re right,” so as to not have to fight any longer. Peacemaker. Appeaser. But love? No, probably not. I didn’t love in the sense of loving myself first, and only then being able to truly love another. I did not know myself. I did not allow myself to know myself. To understand some of why I have done the things I did.

I did not, because it was easier. It was comfortable. It did not hurt; it did not require me standing up to another and initiating a conversation which needed to happen. It did not result in consequences for me or another. It did not allow both of us to grow and mature. It did not recognize that love is not appeasement. Love is not giving only. Love is not happy-happy-joy-joy!! all the time.

Love is dirty. Love is painful. Love hopes heals. Waits. Love tells the truth. And for that, love is sometimes kicked ot the curb, because the audience cannot handle the reality. Cannot surpass the ideal in the mind, cannot supplant that idyllic image with a less glorious, but more real, more true, more honest version of reality. It is a shame and a terrible one at that. But – when many people talk of love, they talk of “happiness” and “joy” and “freedom”. They do not recognize that with those, in teh bonds of love, in the bonds of devotion, also come terror – and heartbreak – and futility. Those do not negate love. They do not eliminate joy. But they tint the pur-white sky overhead with tiny, wispy black streaks, rendering the image imperfect, impure, but, at the same moment, more real than could ever be imagined.