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A friend recently sent a note in which he shared an experience of recognizing the voice of the victim in the stories he’d been telling about his life. His ability to courageously acknowledge something that most people judge negatively inspired me to explore my own stories.

Reflecting on a series of conversations transpiring over the past week, I can see the threads I missed at the time because I was so focused on one or two threads that I justified as my cause, which now looks more like my excuse. Standing in the light of truth, not universal truth, rather the light of my honest motivation, I can accept that what motivates me may be self serving.

Here’s the crux of standing in this light: once I see the truth of what’s really there I can no longer point only to the threads that I like or want to believe without pretending. That I suppose presents yet another crux: to pretend or not to pretend.

That part of me that doesn’t want to change or doesn’t want to choose something that I think will reveal my perceived weaknesses, which aren’t very well hidden anyway—I know; I hear you laughing—can easily pretend. It’s as simple as turning the light off. Even now, two paragraphs and a coffee refill later I’ve turned off the light.

I don’t want to stand in the dark with my back to my truth.

Remind me of the name of the voice speaking in last week’s story…help me to hold the light steady.

Love,

Me.

While contemplating the idea of pain influencing me to shrink away from others or to feed confusion about feeling loved, I thought of the lyrics to Bette Midler’s “The Rose”. This and innumerable other songs and poems explore the many causes lying behind pain and its influence on how we interpret love.

My own questioning began in earnest when my marriage to my high school sweet heart disintegrated. I thought love conquered all! But I was wrong! And I decided that love wasn’t what I thought it was…and, in fact, I didn’t know anything about love, let alone being created to be loved.

Tell me about love and being loved and shrinking away. 

Like the first time you touched a hot stove—you pulled away. The next time you came close to a stove you either shrank away or you reached out to see if it was hot. If it was, you pulled away, if it wasn’t you learned that stoves aren’t always hot. If you shrank away, you associated the stove with pain, hot or not. Love is simple like that. People are not.  

When love has strings attached, you experience pain. When love expects nothing in return, you experience love. This applies when giving and receiving. When you love another with an expectation of how they’ll be, or what they’ll do, or what will happen next, or that they’ll love you in return, you’re likely to experience a staggering set of emotions ranging from disappointment to resentment and anger or even hatred and cynicism. 

Sounds simple…and maybe easy if I was Peace Pilgrim, but I’m not. So now what?

How do you know when you are loving simply?
How do you know when you are being simply loved?
 

Do that.
Receive that.

Learn to recognize the strings—starting with your own.
If you are honest with yourself, you’ll know what to do next.

I wonder if the journey is really about learning how to love simply and to be simply loved.

Love you–simply.

Facing remnants of the past, those pieces of life that seem to refuse to functionally decompose and continue influencing present experiences, I think of proponents of attending to the present moment: Eckhart Tolle, Ram Das, Ganjagi, Pema Chodron and other Buddhist leaders, friends, even myself just a few blogs ago. Just be in the moment and know that all is well.

Well, aware of those roots laying at my feet, under the soil of wanting all to be well, I am reminded of the importance of learning from the experience…to go back to the beginning and retrace the path to here…to see the opportunity in the situations.

If each adventure holds soul expanding lessons, which I didn’t see at the time, I can, like the salmon completing its cycle by returning to the beginning, go back and feel for what I missed.

Oh…

…stubborn resistance to the truth of the situations.

It’s so easy to deny the truth when it isn’t what I want to hear.

Love you.

Life. To live it or not to live it? This question swirls in the emergency rooms and depression halls in numbers too high to count.

What influences anyone to reach the point of wanting to give up…to either literally die by suicide or to live without living, like the walking dead?

Oh.

Yeah, I’ve been there. In both places actually. As I think of it an endless stream of theories rush in. As good as they may be, theories serve very well to give me an answer that will soothe my mind for today, like telling a child just enough to answer a question without causing confusion.

But I want to know the truth of it. Is there one? A truth about the spirit dying within? Burning out? Turning the flame down so low that few, if any, can see it?

Perceiving that one is alone kills the spirit. Community gone Individual. One for one. Lost is “all for one and one for all.”

I suppose many things can create that perception…a different experience for each. I could blame the competitive nature of our society, the walled off hearts of the wounded and disappointed, the prideful and the martyrs…and the list goes on. Blame, though, cannot reconnect the lost spirit, the lonely or the scared to humanity.

Only we can do that. Not “I” nor you, nor him nor her, only “we.” Only “we are in this together.” Life is not something one can live alone.

Yeah.
Love you.

Teased into consciousness

by ordinary

expressions of strangers,

gestures of new lovers,

 

old pride,

gatekeeper of

shadows of the past

and of the father,

 

stands ready,

swords drawn,

protecting the

door to the heart.

Thank God I’m home.

I finished reading a daring book, How it ends, by Laura Wiess, the night before watching the last bag of Fludurobine (chemo) drip into a vein in Mom’s right arm; last bag for three weeks when she gets to do it all over again. Sitting in the adult cancer outpatient room…watching…trying not to notice the other patients who appeared sicker…listening to the whirs and beeps of machines…wondering…I asked, “What’s next?”

Mom painted a picture I wasn’t anticipating. This isn’t a cure. There isn’t a cure. She’ll feel better for awhile (2-5 years) and will likely need to go through chemo again. This could go on for 10-20 years. In the meantime, she could “get” a secondary cancer (lung, liver, skin…) and fight that too. And/Or, she could “catch” infections, various strains of influenza, and general infectious illnesses that most of us don’t think twice about. 

As her words settled into my wanting-to-be-in-denial brain, I became acutely aware of how close to home “how it ends” is. Not the end. How it ends.

Breathe.

In the meantime…

Where is home?
Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness.
Home is where the heart’s tears can dry at their own pace.

–Vernon Baker quote, preceding the final page of How it ends

 Love you.

August 2017
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