To live, is to encounter opportunities to love. To live well, is to surrender to these opportunities. And once we become consumed by the idea that we control our own lives, love is always a choice. To love or not, and to what degree, is an hourly act that we must commit or not.
And yet every love we surrender to and nourish, is built from the brick and mortar of our own hearts. Loving is a constant ebb and flow, a shifting tide of effort and energy. And when we truly allow ourselves to love someone, when we commit ourselves to caring, beyond our selfish attention spans, beyond our petty worries and aches, it is then that we open ourselves to the greatest hurt.
Because unconditional love has but one condition. Do not go away, it says. Be within the protective circle of my love it says. Because fear is the flip-side of all love. The greater the love, the greater the fear . Of having a ruin-shaped blast site, knocked out of our hearts.
I see my parents, the riverbed, the mooring, the very ground that my life runs unheedingly over. I see them soften and become more vulnerable every passing year. They are my compasses, my agony aunts, my bank, my recipe books, my teachers, my almanacs, my repositories of faith, the bearers of my identity, they are the witnesses of all of my past present and future, they are my place to go back to, they are home and escape and memory, they are the language of my story. How does one not cower under such immense, uncontrollable, fragile love.
I see my sister, so terrifyingly delicate that it’s a wonder that I don’t wrap her up in cotton and hide her in my closet. I see my nieces, two tiny spun-sugar wonders, so heartbreakingly innocent that they make me want to halt time.
I see my husband, my ‘You are here’ marker. He gives corporeality to the life that I am making up as I go every day. He is my mirror reflection, my daily rhythm, my co-conspirator. He is, I know, the only one who will lend me his heart when I run out.
I see my friends.
One a doppelganger, my answering echo, my deja vu once removed, the seasoning my mind craves and must inevitably taste.
One - comfort, a guide and confessor, my touchstone of reality. A refuge from a world that refuses to stick to the script.
One my foil and playmate, the unswerving voice of truth, an unreasonable, idealistic call from the edge of sanity.
Some days my knees buckle with the weight of each of these loves. Some days I want to be a coward and say no more, that’s it, we’re sold out here. Some days, I forget, that this weight is what holds me up in the first place.