When you start out on a journey there tends to be an end in mind. Sometimes you go on the journey just for the sake of getting out of the house, and sometimes you have another place or time you would like to experience. At the beginning of this year, I set out on a journey of sorts, a resolution that was intended to help sort out the mess of my thus far lived life.
However, there are always bumps along the way--challenges that make the journey worthwhile and force you to figure out if you *really* want to get to the end. Last month I faced heartache like I haven't felt in a very, very long time. Broken trust lead to realization that one must Love with abandon, yet Trust with caution. I found myself asking why was I even doing this in the first place? It is an idealistic endeavor to say the least, riddled with opportunities to be vulnerable to even the slightest interaction.
Two thoughts on that. One, a very good friend said that it is important that I feel the highs and lows of love, because they are what make it real. So true. I will expound in the next paragraph. Two, I am still working out the details about giving and receiving love, which I will discuss when I talk about the book I just finished. I think it is important to not just be a one-way love spout.
So I was waning in my decision to have this be the Year of Love. How silly? Who does this? There is no way of measuring my success. It's not like I can see numbers that show me I have gained love, or lost love, or have given a higher percentage each day. Pounds and blood pressure are easy to measure--matters of the tangible unseen are not. And then I picked up a book that was given to me two years ago, Blue Like Jazz. Apparently the universe wanted me to have a jumpstart, because this book of 'nonreligious thoughts on christian spirituality' was just what I needed. Read on...(thanks, Marcel)
So, when I was younger I always desired to have a middle ground emotional experience. Not crazy highs and lows like I tended towards. This has been found, slowly, through the process of learning acceptance and forming a habitual attitude of love. My yoga practice has reshaped me in so many more ways that just physically. New people or situations are not approached with fear or trepidation but eyes forward and a smile. If things don't work out quite the way I plan I simply accept the new time frame/path/direction and try to help those around me do the same. Needless to say I am much less stressed out. But, there is a downside to this as well. Too much lukewarm acceptance can turn oneself almost emotionally bland. Nothing is really upsetting or really marvelous anymore. So, at this point, the 3/4 mark, I am going to embrace the new-found contentment and add back the spice. After all, no one likes a pushover--and I am unfortunately finding myself being that more often than not. I think it's about time to rekindle some of the passion. Contentment and passion. Yin and yang.
"If you believe something, passionately, people wil follow you. People hardly care what you believe, as long as you believe something. If you are passionate about something, people will follow you because they think you know something they don't, some clue to the meaning of the universe. Passion is tricky, though, because it can point to nothing as easily as it points to something. If a rapper is passionately rapping about how great his rap is, his passion is pointing to nothing. He isn't helping anything. His beliefs are self-serving and shallow. If a rapper, however, is rapping about his community, about oppression and injustice, then he is passionate about a message, something outside himself. What people believe is important. What people believe is more important than how they look, what their skills are, or their degree of passion. Passion about nothing is like pouring gasoline in a car without wheels. It isn't going to lead anybody anywhere." (Miller, p. 109-110)
So, onto the second topic: giving and receiving love. This is, undoubtably, one of the most difficult aspects of this whole journey. It is so difficult to allow love in because of the unknowns it brings. "I can do it myself." has been a lifelong motto that I have been slowly breaking down. But, crazy as it sounds, if you let love in even just a little, and let it out without expectation, life becomes even fuller. Recently, with the experience of intense heartache I realized I still had some patterns of unhealthy love. Withholding and judging, along with trusting before foundations had been built. So, I walked away. I am not holding back, I am simply not able to be so open and giving without depth of relationship. Taking control instead of reacting has given me so much peace and allowed me to continue to love and have a semblance of a friendship.
"And so I have come to understand that strength, inner strength, comes from receiving love as much as it comes from giving it."
Now, there is a lot of God in this book. It is all based around the author's walk in his christianity and faith. Do I agree with everything? Am I seeking how or why to be a christian again? No. Absolutely not. However, I enjoy reading books that challenge and support me. Uplift and raise questions. To stop learning about life is to basically accept existing.
Speaking of such things, I went out last night to a scene that I rarely spend time. A new friend works in Buckhead and invited me out to a block party. So, free beverages and my cowgirl boots gave me some courage to spend time with a new person and a few hundred strangers--all of who were simply existing. As I looked around the spectacle it struck me how dead so many people really are. Numbed by looking for eye-candy, drinking alcohol, and sort of dancing to loud music, it was almost like watching zombies. I mean, these people have stupid amounts of money and yet are not living like they give a damn about anyone around them. I had some moments of judgement that melted into sadness for a generation that I share, full of people I have no desire to ever really talk to. Luckily my acquaintance does not fall in that category and we had a few laughs, I met some of his friends, and then made my way home at the decent hour of 2am.
In summary, I feel as though the heartache, book, and expansion of social circle, in recent months have done a solid number on my resolution. Ups and downs are good; they build character. At three quarters of the way through the year I am recommitted. My short-term goal is to make it through the year continually developing the habit of love. My long term goal is to not have to think about it, but to simply be.