Love Lessons

“This old heart of mine, been broke a thousand times. Each time you break away, seems like you’ve gone to stay.” ~The Isley Brothers

I am no love expert. I feel like I should qualify that first. Love is not always sunshine and roses. I feel the need to qualify that second. Because, while love can be the most beautiful feeling in the world, it can also be the most confounding, the most frustrating, the most devastating at the same time.

For me, love has been several roller coasters, going everywhere but never really stopping. And it’s taught me a lot, in its various incarnations.

  1. Unrequited love is the worst. Having feelings for someone who doesn’t share those feelings can drive you insane. Keep in mind, though, that unrequited means they know of your love for them but do not reciprocate. If you love someone but keep it to yourself, it doesn’t qualify in this category. I’ve learned that it’s best to be honest, to get it out there, because keeping it in doesn’t help.
  2. Love has expectations. It’s interesting to me when people say that love doesn’t expect anything from you but to be yourself. This isn’t true, specifically because most relationships are doomed by a lack of communication. When you love someone you should stretch outside of your comfort zone at times so you can understand each other.
  3. You can’t force love. No matter how “great” someone looks on paper, no matter how many of your friends think you’d be perfect together, it’s not about paper, and it’s not about friends. It’s about how you feel inside, and you can’t make yourself love someone you don’t love. Yes, you can cover over your true feelings, but eventually they will come out, and regret will set in.
  4. We don’t stop loving people. If it’s real love, it doesn’t just go away. Sometimes it can morph into a different level, or it can be put on the back burner because of the actions of the individual. Often, love isn’t enough to keep people together because there are so many other factors that influence that, but the excuse that “love died” is not true. If you feel that way, then you never loved in the first place.
  5. Don’t mistake lust for love. In true Romeo & Juliet fashion, too often we are struck by the newness of a situation, we are overcome with emotions that are attached more to our libidos than to anything else. It’s easy to think this is love, but it’s really love-adjacent. It’s really one facet of a multi-faceted emotion, and often times we can have lust without love. Beware.
  6. Love needs cultivation. Just like with anything else, if love stagnates it can be detrimental to you overall as a person, and to your relationship. Taking love for granted, settling into routines where you aren’t receptive to the other person’s needs, is easy to do. It’s one of the reasons love isn’t enough by and of itself. You need to show that love instead of letting it settle.
  7. Love can be harsh. Because we can’t choose who we love we can get ourselves into situations that are detrimental to our overall mental, physical, and emotional health. I’ve seen it time and again, people who are in dysfunctional relationships because they love that person even though they’re being mentally, physically, or emotionally abused by that same person.

Love is so powerful because it tugs at our heart strings. It’s the kitty in the shelter we just have to bring home with us. It’s the book we can’t stop reading even though it’s 4 in the morning. It’s the twisted sheets, the notes under windshield wipers, the pop-ins just to say hi, the shared tacos, the phone calls that never end. It’s everything. Except that it isn’t. At least, that’s what I’ve learned so far.

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Caught in the Middle

“Reckless abandon wrapped in common sense. Deep water faith in the shallow end, and we are caught in the middle” ~Casting Crowns

I stood on the edge of a future fraught with possible landmines, I had no idea if I even wanted to jump, and who would have blamed me for standing still? Believe me, I was the last person to know what I wanted in that moment, in the pause that seemed to stretch into forever with how long I waited it out.

Looking back, I was hoping a decision would be made for me, that things would be packaged up and all I would have to do is put the bow on it. But that’s not how life happens, not often enough anyway. What life does is it waits until we’ve finally made the decision, then it changes our plans, whether we like it or not.

So what was I waiting for?

You could say I was always the one to look before leaping anyway, that I would generally weigh all possible options before wading in, or I wouldn’t wade in at all. I can’t tell you how many opportunities passed me by while I was sitting there waiting to make a decision (or 20).

I’m not sure if it was being careful, meticulous, or just indecisive, but it seemed to work relatively well for me. Continue reading “Caught in the Middle”

Labeled

I often think about all the labels I wear, or have worn, over the years. First there was “son,” a dubious one indeed because I had no control over it. Indeed, I didn’t even really know it existed on a conscious level until I had been one for quite some time. I remember my mother leaning over me to tuck me into bed one time, and thinking: I’m her son.

Then there was “brother,” which has been with me just as long as son. I don’t know my life in any kind of context when I wasn’t a brother, when I didn’t have someone else who shared my experience growing up in that house. And we were close at times, while not at others. We battled for space, for time, for pretty much whatever spoils could have existed. That was the life of being a brother.

Next I guess you could add “neighbor” to the list, though I was a poor one. We lived a pretty sheltered existence, but there were others on the block who I connected with from time to time (large expanses of time between the connections). These boys and girls always seemed alien to me, like some kind of extra-terrestrials who lived completely different lives even though we lived right next door. Continue reading “Labeled”

Unfinished

When you run a part of the relay and pass on the baton, there is no sense of unfinished business in your mind. There is just the sense of having done your part to the best of your ability. ~ N.R. Narayana Murthy

I’m not a runner. I really never have been, though I did run from bullies when I was in elementary school. For a while I ran around my neighborhood, too, until loose dogs made me stop. Or at least that was my excuse for stopping. That’s pretty much it.

But I’m a big fan of the Olympics. I watch the runners go around the track, and I envy them. I love the relay because each runner goes all out for only a quarter of the race, but that’s it. That’s their job. It will forever be unfinished for them.

The baton is the only part of the relay that completes the entire cycle.

It’s something I think about a lot, the idea of trusting in others to get something finished that I’ve started. Continue reading “Unfinished”

The Tone & Timbre

My father called here this morning. Why does he have such a hold over me? I hadn’t heard his voice in 6 months, and yet the tone, the timbre, are as familiar to me as my own, yet so foreign at the same time.

Alexa answered the phone, but she didn’t recognize him. After all, she’s only talked to him twice before. She covered the mouthpiece and asked me who he was, if she should speak with him, if it was okay. I wonder if he wants some sort of relationship with my children. He claimed he did once, but that was a dog’s age ago, and he disappeared again.

Is he back? Or was this just a Mothers’ Day surprise?

Why does he, even now, hold such sway over me, over my thoughts? I ask myself this less and less, but always when he calls again, after so much time. And I know I should make up my mind. Do I want to try and craft a relationship with him, even now, even after all this time?

Continue reading “The Tone & Timbre”

A Treatise on Exhalation

I’ve been neglectful, really. Not the kind of regret that sits on a windowsill and judges, but rather the kind that pops up out of nowhere and reminds me that I’m a human being, that I’m connected to a larger universe of humanity (a horde, really) that exists in and for itself. It’s both outside of me, and a part of me in ways I can’t always quite fathom the way I probably should.

Being “in-semester” does that to me.

For days on end, in-semester, the world shrinks down for me into seven classes, some on the Tuesday/Thursday cycle, and others revolving around Monday/Wednesday/Friday. Each one is its personal microcosm of energy (and the lack thereof, depending on what part of the semester we’re in). When I’m with that group they are the whole world. I engage, I am engaged, and I exhale when I have to move on from them. That’s my life.

But now I’m doing a different kind of exhale. Continue reading “A Treatise on Exhalation”

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