Wow, I was going to write a completely different article this week. Then bam! Something else hit me – karma, and comprehension. I’m still figuring this out as I write, going off on tangents, but I’ll pull all those threads together, bear with me…
You know those times when people are pissing you off, your feelings are getting hurt, you’re butting heads with the world? (Please say yes, I can’t possibly be the only one that self absorbed or stubborn!) When everything is externalized and you wonder what’s wrong with everybody else. Then slam! You realize it’s actually you. That horrible drop in the pit of your stomach when you realize: “Oh fuck, I screwed up.”
And what I’ve screwed up on is love. Not hearts and flowers romantic love – but that universal all you need is love…ba-ba-ba-na-na. One of the weird side effects of chronic illness is it tends to strip away the things you think are important, leaving only what really is important. When career, independence, financial stability, are all absent from you life, you get a really in-depth lesson on what’s left: Love, and the connections we make with people.
Now, I may be grossly out of place in the corporate world with a resume fitting 20 yr old drop-outs, but the one area I move through with confidence and expertise is the realm of Love. Perhaps too comfortably…
I didn’t come to this place easily. There was a lot of grief, a lot of letting go, and a whole lot of learning to receive. At one rather intense point of spiritual development, I felt like a garden hose hooked up to a fire hydrant – what was coming at me was more than I could take. It has taken me most of the last two years to learn to stretch and make room for all that love. But when I’m in that place, it’s beautiful. And it’s a love for everything – cranes, construction, cranky people. It’s not romantic love, but I still get those hummy in love feelings – for everything and everyone. Loving really is easy, but I sometimes forget it was hard getting here.
Unconditional love is just that, unconditional. Loving no matter what. And I think I screwed up in thinking it doesn’t ask anything. It does. It asks to be received. Unconditional love is still gonna love you, even if you reject it; but that constant calling is always there, nudging at you, asking you to say yes to it.
There is some kiss we want with our whole lives
The touch of Spirit on the body
Seawater begs the pearl to break its shell
The seawater wants to see that shell open, but isn’t going anywhere whether it opens or not. And I’ve always seen the passive loving patience of that; it is just now occurring to me, you pile enough seawater on something, there’s gonna be some pressure.
I remember being in conflict with a guy I was dating – he was mad at me for loving him. I tried explaining it was like sunshine, you didn’t have to do anything with what was hitting you; or that loving and being “in love” were different things (it was way too early for the being “in love” part, and: Hello! I’m not crazy! Hm… I need that on a T-shirt). I did have enough sense to not try and help him understand to not take is so personally by explaining I also had feelings of love for dog shit (seriously – the expression of life: the fecundity of bugs, feeding soil that would arise in plants…beautiful!) ‘cause I’m pretty sure he would have taken THAT personally. Fundamentally, I think it drove the demise of the relationship. And I was always so confounded by that, how can you say no to something that asks nothing of you?
And because if you’re slow on the uptake the world will keep giving you the same lesson in different guises, I’ve been hit rather hard with it again this fall.
One was people’s response to A World of Hurt. Now I may again piss people off when I say for me that story was a Love story. I was sure shocked when people got mad and thought the narrator hadn’t earned redemption, wasn’t deserving of that kind of experience after shooting someone. Inside my heart cried out: “But, aren’t we all deserving? No matter how much we screw up, no matter what we do. Do we not all have that potential to finally get it, to crack open and let that seawater rush in?” As I type this, I wonder how much of people’s anger about that redemption stems from their own struggle to forgive themselves, to not feel they need to pay some price for their own screw ups. – as I nurse that pit in my gut, realizing my own fuck up now.
Another “learning opportunity” was watching a new friendship fall apart, again because my deep love and affection for the man was more than he could accept – to this day I think he questions my motives and assumes they were romantic. Once again, I failed to explain the difference between loving and being “in love” (and once again managed to not say: “But I love dog poo too!”) Once again I am confounded – “Why is it so hard? Why can’t you just let somebody love you and not sweat it?”
Because it is hard, it’s stupid that it’s hard, but we do a really good job of making it so. I got to hear Patrick Finn speak, he teaches a class on Love at U of C, and he said: “one must stop trying so hard not to love.” It really is that simple. It’s ironically very hard to learn to not work so hard against it, but once you let go of making it hard, it’s easy.
So, while I’ve been busy being hurt, disappointed, upset with everyone who’s not understanding me or where I’m coming from – rejecting what seems so simple, and necessary. I’m realizing what I’m offering does ask something, it asks to be received. And that’s actually a lot to ask. As confounded as I’ve been by the rejection, it never occurred to me people might be confounded by the offer.
I’ve been mad about people being insensitive; turns out, I was blind to how insensitive I’d been. As much as I was frightened and overwhelmed by my own fire hydrant experience, I forgot getting hit with that much love can be scary, and it’s no wonder people are blocking and fleeing (pause for a moment while we all visualize: You get to drink from the Fire Hose!!!). So, I’m sorry. I’ll work on putting a valve on that thing. In the meantime, I’m not going to stop trying to see the pearl in everyone (even if YOU don’t think they’ve got one) and I’m not going to stop loving any of you. But I will work on keeping my mouth shut, and letting people take what they can and leave the rest.
There’s more on the topic of learning about love at Your Beauty Must Be Rubbing Off.