That Revelations Feeling

“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” ~T.S. Eliot

I used to believe in the Apocalypse.

I thought it was some fantasmic, spectacularly obscene alternate reality that would somehow intersperse with our own sometime in the distant future, in some Buck Rogers timeline that wouldn’t see me in it at all. So I wasn’t worried. This was back before I had kids, so I wasn’t concerned about them either.

It was a far off dream, not favorable, but so far-fetched it couldn’t happen until there was a world gone awry, until perfect circumstances set it up for success. Not unlike most dreams, it had a basis, a grounding in reality, but it would always go off the rails at some point, and I would wake up drenched in sweat. It would take me a while to recover, but when I looked outside I knew I was safe.

I don’t feel so safe anymore. And the Apocalypse doesn’t feel so far fetched anymore either. It’s not something that might happen to others somewhere down the line. I’m still here. I’m still vibrant. I’m still human enough to recognize my fragility in the face of this novel event, in the cresting, crashing, then cresting again wave that is this virus. And I think to myself, will life ever be the same again?

Will I go out again in public sometime and not be worried that it might get me. Will I be in large groups again and not cringe away from others because of this social distancing? Will this be the “new normal,” where I’m wary all the time because no one will be able to tell me I’m okay?

I just don’t know. Which is the scariest part of all. People are saying, “When this thing is over…” but I’m worried it won’t be, not really, that this is just the first of many that will come, that will pillage humanity, that will take its pound of flesh before moving on. I’m worried that I will become such a recluse that I won’t want to open up again, that my wings will be permanently sewn to my back.

I don’t want that. But I’m afraid. That’s it, after all. I’m afraid that once this moves on it won’t have moved on at all, at least not in my soul, not to my fragile self. Maybe that’s the real Apocalypse anyway, the enduring fear of what may come, because of what has been, and what might be again.

I used to believe in the Apocalypse, but now I know that the fear of real life might just be worse.

All the World’s a Stage

I like stages. I always have, though I never wanted to be in a theater production, though I never wanted to be some other character waxing eloquently with another’s words venturing forth from my mouth. But I like stages. The lights, the spotlight particularly, being in front of several hundred people all looking at me, nodding along with me, smiling along with me, like I’m some puppeteer and they’re the marionettes. Just without the strings.

Today I was on a stage. The lights were a little too bright, so I couldn’t see the faces of those out in the audience. I had to guess instead if they were with me, if they were following along or merely looked to be that way. Sometimes I wonder if I look that way to others who are also under the bright lights, squinting out at me through a haze, hoping I’m with them.

I guess in a way I’m on some kind of stage every day. In fact, today I guess I could say I was on five stages — four of the classroom variety, and one that was an actual stage. Of course my teaching style means I’m more of a “guide on the side” than a “sage on the stage,” but I do hold court on occasion. I like initiating the contact, and they give me something back in return. It’s a wonderfully blissful experience, most of the time, when they care to participate, when it’s not 8 AM, when they have their coffee IV’s firmly affixed.

But being on the actual stage reminded me how much I love it. I used to be in those stage productions, by the way, back in elementary school. I used to be the main character, or the town villager, or tree #3, whatever let me see the stage from my favorite side. It didn’t really matter how I got to see it. Somehow, though, as I got older, either my passion died out, or I forgot how much it made me tingle being up there, on display, for everyone to see, and judge, and see again the next time I was up there. I got caught up in life, in doing for others, in achieving a different sort of dream, and I forgot what it was like.

To breathe.

To inhale and let it rush all over me, cleansing me from the outside in, giving me a new lease on life. Maybe I need to spend more time on a stage, to give in to those long ignored feelings, because on some level I feel like I need it. I’m no longer that rangy twelve-year old, no longer the kid with an entire future left to be written. I have only so many more Sundays, and I want to spend them where I’m feeling alive.

And I haven’t done much lately that feeds my soul, outside of my chosen occupation, that is, but it’s different to do what you love and get paid for it. Quite another to have that spare time and do it simply because I love it, getting nothing in return but the satisfaction of having done it, of being absolutely in love with it. The stage calls.

I wonder if I’ll answer.

The Ineffable Quality of Love

ineffable: too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words. 

The other day I ran into someone who uses the L word a lot. In the course of regular conversation, she expressed it no fewer than 10 times, to encompass everything, from the latte she was drinking, to her new bag, to the latest episode of some vapid TV show she watches but I’m glad to say I’ve never seen.

I nodded along, but inside I was counting, and thinking to myself, “You can’t possibly love all of these things.” I realized one of two things in that moment. Either she honestly believes she loves all of these things, or she hasn’t really taken the time to analyze her feelings for each one, and love is simply a placeholder until she decides she wants to dig a little deeper. If she ever decides she wants to dig a little deeper.

Too often people don’t. Too often they grab a word, put it in their pocket, and pull it out whenever the mood strikes, whenever they can’t think of anything that fits the situation they’re in. That’s why we often say we love others too soon, when all we can possibly feel is attraction, or companionship, or relief, or any number of a million other feelings that often masquerade as love.

We see others living the lives we want, having the love we wish we had…

Continue reading “The Ineffable Quality of Love”

Clip-Ons and Half-Smiles

My mom never took pictures of me on the first day of school. I think it’s because she realized I looked no different then than any other time in my life. Okay, maybe I had a cleaner, ironed shirt on, but we all knew it would be rumpled fifteen minutes into the school year. So, why front?

It’s like when we had school picture day. Sure, I wore a tie most of the time, and a sweater to cover up the fact of no tie at other times, but generally I had on a collared shirt. That was fancy back then (at least when I wasn’t in church). I only knew it was school picture day because the clip-on would be lying on my bed when I got out of the shower.

It was like Santa had placed it there.

Sometimes I wish they had clip-on ties for adults. Don’t tell me they have them. You will ruin my dream. It’s the dream that sustains me, after all, the illusion that they don’t exist. If you tell me they do, then I’ll have to subscribe to a new illusion. Like when I found out about the Tooth Fairy.

So, I would clip on that tie, adjust it to hide the fact it was a clip-on, and I’d smile for the man, or the woman, who stood behind the camera with a chipmunk grin. Continue reading “Clip-Ons and Half-Smiles”

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.

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”

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