Sometimes, we choose the wrong words. Even when it matters most, sometimes everything comes out in a tumble of moron. There are other times where even the right words (as much as words can be right) are ineffective. You speak, but nothing changes. Perhaps you aren’t even heard. Perhaps you find yourself shouting into the void. Perhaps you are trying to move a mountain with the wind.
What happens in a moment like that, in a situation like that? Do you keep talking or do you just…give up? Me, I believe in words. I believe in the power of words for so many reasons. Communication is a vital part of any relationship. That doesn’t make it easy, but if you can’t honestly talk to someone, even when it’s difficult, the relationship will die. And not quickly.
Everyone tells you what they need, if you just pay attention. This includes non-verbal communicate, the space between words, the particular way a silence hangs in the air. The stories shaped between the lines matter a great deal; they are often composed with the things we are afraid to say. I love you. I miss you. I need you. I’m sorry. I’m having a hard time. I don’t know what to do. Any of these things can be easily tucked inside a paragraph, sneaked into a sentence.
I wonder, though, what one does when what someone says directly contradicts how that person feels? How does one reconcile should with the heart? I don’t have the answer. I don’t know that there is one. But I feel as if that space between heart and mind is a dangerous, tenuous one. It’s where we either make beautiful decisions or harmful ones. Just as the secret to compromise is giving, meeting in the middle, the secret to navigating the ground between head and heart is this: don’t let logic strangle your passion, and don’t let passion overwhelm everything. To honor the heart, you follow it. And yet, to honor the mind, you sometimes have to ignore it. That seems counterintuitive, I know. But sometimes, our rational selves are simply a tool that leads us to examine a situation. That is not what should govern a choice or a situation. Our fears should never lead us. Our fears should never define us. Too often, I think, we mistake fear for rational thinking. And fear, darlings, makes us less brave — less true to ourselves.
I don’t always pick the right words when speaking, but I always speak from a place of love. (I mean, unless you’re being a jerk. Then I’m not going to CareBear you.) I may not always be an easy person to handle. I’m often more keen on feelings than any other things. The truth is that I don’t have shallow emotions. I don’t have tenuous convictions. I’m deep. I’m a river. You might think you’ve found the bottom, but a second later, there’s nothing under your feet. I’ve got a current. There’s a pull. But if you close your eyes and lay back, there’s freedom in that. And freedom, I think, is something we all want.
Yesterday marked the start of summer. And I don’t know about you, but spring was a rough season. For me, it felt uncertain, shaky, full of hairpin turns, and rife with doubt. It made me question a lot of things. There were times that I felt alone, perhaps misunderstood. There were times that I felt an odd sense of loss, too. But I’m not dwelling on those things, now. Yesterday began a new season, and with that new season, things begin to grow.
I may say that wrong thing. I may be a complicated person. But I’m ready for the sun, loves. I’m ready for all the promises that come with summer. I’m ready for logic and fear to take a backseat. I’m ready for the promises of passion and following my heart. Nothing grows in the shadow of fear. It’s time to step out of the shadows and leave all doubt behind.
As summer begins, follow love where it leads you. Give love what it needs to grow. Offer everything you have on the hope that it may be well-received. Expect nothing, give everything. Teach everyone who crosses your path a different secret about love in whatever form you choose. And above all, trust.
“If we listened to our intellect we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go in business because we’d be cynical: “It’s gonna go wrong.” Or “She’s going to hurt me.” Or,”I’ve had a couple of bad love affairs, so therefore . . .” Well, that’s nonsense. You’re going to miss life. You’ve got to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down.” ~Ray Bradbury
This week, for me, seems to have a theme. Maybe two. It’s been all about perception and honesty. Sometimes, the smallest thing – a conversation, an offhand comment – can shift everything. It’s like someone turned on a lightbulb, and you didn’t realize you’d been sitting in the dark. Except, you were. And now everything is different.
Don’t get me wrong: illumination can be difficult. But nothing worth having/being/doing is ever easy. Anyone who tells you differently is a lying liar, whose pants are aflame. My point is that an honest conversation can change the way you see a situation. And sometimes, you pick up a clue you didn’t know you were missing in some unrelated event. This has happened to me several times this week. A few minutes ago, I stumbled across a quote from, of all things, Winnie the Pooh: Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.
That small, simple sentence just shifted a whole heap of things for me. Some things, I already kinda/sorta knew. Others, maybe not. But the funny thing is that I’m able to see something more clearly, which has been a constant development this week. It’s the emotional equivalent of finding money that you forgot about in a coat pocket. Surprise! Here’s the thing that’s yours; it’s been here all along, but you just now found it. Or rediscovered it.
And that can lead to a new reality. Finding things. Allowing yourself to accept that kind of happy, unexpected gift. Sure, it might’ve been there all along – but you can now embrace it. It’s yours. Do something with it.
It’s funny, too, the things you sometimes discover about yourself when someone shines a light in your direction. I realized, this week, that if I have one gift, it’s probably complete faith. If I am certain about something or someone (and I’m damn good at assessing people), nothing can shake that faith. If I believe in something, nothing can shake that. I have, I suppose, passionate conviction. There’s no “maybe” in my heart. There’s no room for it, anyway, because I’m basically chockfull of love and sunlight. All of this can surprise people. Especially since I am also the person who takes every kind of risk based on that faith. There’s no higher place to make a decision from than that. Decisions made from habit or fear are never healthy. Decisions made from a place of love and faith? Those are always inspired things.
That’s what I know. That is, perhaps, what I’ve rediscovered in my emotional pocket, tucked away. I know how to believe. And I know how to believe in the impossible. And god help anyone who dares to question that. Because…no. I come from a long line of stubborn, strong women. And faith is a strange thing when it’s unshakeable: it can move mountains, no matter how painful or difficult. It can also save you when, maybe, you didn’t even realize you needed saving.
If I were to give you advice based on what I’ve been lucky to learn this week, it’d be this: find whatever, or whoever, makes you feel like sunlight. It might be scary. It might mean radical change. It might cause you pain the process. But life is too short to sit in darkness. Find what lights you up and makes you feel happy and safe. In the end, it’s the light that matters. After all, it’s what chases away the dark, no matter how impossible that might seem.
“Some people are so much sunshine to the square inch.”
― Walt Whitman
“We must leave this terrifying place tomorrow and go searching for sunshine.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald
There’s something about fall that makes me think of magic. That makes me feel like everything is magic. If there’s something the world needs more of, it’s that. Even if it is the magic of small things, like kindness and hope. Emily Dickinson once described hope as a “thing with feathers, that sings that tune without the words and never stops at all.” The phrasing is correct, but the line breaks probably aren’t. I would have to agree with her, but I’d also say that hope is a leaf turned to fire, beauty just before transformation.
Every morning when I’m in my car, I’m reminded of the power of change. I used to hate change. It used to terrify the hell out of me. It used to make me rebel, either internally or externally. I liked tradition. I like consistency. I like the safety that you can find in certainty. And then, things happened. Instances that change everything. I can number two. The specifics aren’t relevant. But think of a moment that turned everything inside out. Think of a person. Think of a kiss. Think of a leap you took, hands shaking. The good and the bad. Conjure it. Remember equal parts tears and laughter.
I’ve gotten better about change. There are times where I even welcome it. I’ve become more flexible than I used to be. Not that I was some kind of rigid, unreasonable monster. But I often had to talk myself into things. Now, I’m more inclined to grin and say, “What the hell?” According to Marilyn Monroe, that’s always the right answer.
There were things that used to scare me. They don’t anymore. I’ve never been one to be concerned about what people think. I know, and I’ve always known, that people are often quick to judge, condemn, and raise an eyebrow – without really stopping to listen or even try to understand. I’m the opposite: even if I don’t agree with something, I will do my damned best to try and understand it. I will listen. I will put myself where you are. I will try to see what you see. Maybe that’s because I’m a Libra. Maybe it’s because I always want to know. Either way, I am what I am. *quietly eats spinach*
But fall. It’s here. The wind feels like the ghost of winter. It kiss with a chill. And yet, I don’t mind. I see the leaves, ranging from green to gold, from yellow to red, and I am not in mourning for the inevitable winter. Instead, I’m opening my heart to the magic that we often overlook. The power to say yes. The power to bend. The way everything makes sense, even when it shouldn’t. The way we often, inexplicably, know the depths of our hearts – dancing and bottomless, brave and vulnerable.
Lately, life feels like a matter of when, not if. I can’t remember the last time I believe in so many things so feverishly and without doubt or hesitation. This is what comes of following your passion. This is what comes of looking into the face of a scary thing and diving off a cliff. Of, as I’ve often advised my friend Jessica, just doing The Thing, whatever it is. Because anyone who dares, knows. Anyone who tries, understands. Anyone who has been brave will tell you of the power of it.
I’ve never lived a perfect life. I’ve never been one to live inside the lines. I’ve walked the line, crossed it, and never looked back. This is a thing you need to do if you’re going to be true to who you are. If you are going to create things, be it art or relationships.
I tend to be neurotic. I’m low-key (not Loki. Although…), but I can be a total spaz. Sometimes, I babble and cannot shut up. Sometimes, I am entirely silly. I am smart, sometimes too smart. I am made of belief and good intentions, stitched together with absolute love. I am unconditional. I am never someone who runs. People need to be reminded of that, occasionally, because the world is full of people who do run. Those people are usually more lost than they know or admit. But I have never once looked up at the sky and not seen the stars. e.e. cummings once wrote, “Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.” There is nothing I trust more than my own heart, whether the sea is on fire or I am.
Tell me, darlings, what do you trust? What do you put your faith in? How often do you chance to truly see the stars?
“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
― Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere’s Fan
Today, I am an unexpected swirl of emotions I wasn’t prepared for. As if one can prepare for emotions. But I am thinking about this year, specifically how it started. There’s a symmetry in that, I suppose, as it comes to an end. There have been a lot of ups and downs. There has been a lot of change, some expected, some always probable, and some impossible to brace against.
This has been a year of getting closer to things, even as they feel far away. This has been a year of loss, of reaching out, of feelings, of love, of heartbreak, and moments. Some I wish I could erase. Some I wish I could capture in a bottle.
Looking back on everything I did and I said, I would not change a thing. I would live or love any differently. Knowing what I know, I would not walk away. I would not back away. I would not choose to run, if going back in time was an option. As tangled as they are, my choices are a knot I would not undo.
This year has taught me that I am strong. That it’s okay to lean on people. And that I can be braver than I thought possible. Hands shaking. Pulse racing. Words fumbling – sometimes, blurting out haha at the strangest moment possible. Because, hey, nerves make a person do odd things. I said I was brave, not perfectly articulate.
Right now, my head is spinning, because 2013 is just a breath away, and with it comes all the expectations and hopes that a new, clean slate can offer. Perhaps it’s silly, but 13 has always been a lucky number for me. Taylor Swift came late to that party.
I do not know what 2013 will bring. I have wishes, like anyone else. I could tick them off on one hand, with fingers to spare. I’m not greedy. I’m not uncertain. I am oddly, impossibly hopeful. That is my default. That is my starting place, my foundation – even in the face of total calamity. I may be an idiot, but we are nothing with hopes or heart. Nothing.
2012 brought out the worst and best of me, sometimes at the same time. I wrote more short stories than ever. I sent my novel out on submission. (I am currently tearing it apart for what feels like the 900th time. Once more into the breach, dear friends!) I watched life ebb. I watched a last breath. I took chances. And I put myself out there. I realize that not everyone can do that, and by hurling myself into the fray, I did the right thing. Not the easy thing. The right one. That’s all anyone can hope for, because some truths do not come with expectation or ulterior motives. They are simply truth. They are simply real. And that is what matters most – saying things that need to be said, even when it’s fucking hard. Especially then. It’s not about what happens. It’s not about what doesn’t happen.
It’s about how you feel. Sometimes, that is really all we have.
You cannot teach a heart to love. You cannot tell it who to love. You cannot control your heart at all. Your heart controls you. And if you keep that locked up, silent, you are also locked up and silent. There are a lot of things that a person can fix. You can be kinder, more understanding etc. You can fake a smile, wanting it to be real. But cannot command your heart to love or not love, not for all the right reasons in all the world.
At this moment, things are a mess. Life is messy. Life is rarely neat and clear cut. If it isn’t messy, it isn’t real. There’s probably something you’re ignoring. There’s probably something, or someone, you are avoiding. Maybe you’re settling. Maybe you’re gritting your teeth. Maybe you’re lying back and thinking of England. But when we are trapped, it is often by our own hand. It is most often a choice we make, because it’s the easier one. It’s familiar. It’s safer. Maybe, on paper, it’s the right thing. And yet, if this year has taught me ONE thing it’s that life is short. Too short. It is too short to spend time on something or someone that doesn’t thrill you down to your marrow. Consider the options, all of them. Things are rarely as clear cut as we want them to be. I tend to believe that there’s always a way if you want something badly enough. If you care enough. If you love enough.
And the end of the day, we all want two things: happiness and love. It’s that complicated and that simple. And for 2013, what I wish for you is both those things in excess. Wherever you find them, however they arrive. Be braver than you think you are. Be vulnerable. Give in, even just a little, to some kind of madness. Kiss someone you love beyond words. Also: love beyond words. Say the one thing you’ve been holding back, even if it means you’re crossing a line. Say it, because it’s true. Make a wish. Make a promise. Remember that things worth having are not easily obtained. Trust your feelings. Write your own story. Do not stay inside the lines. Do not think of how things are supposed to be. Instead, see them as they are. Be honest with yourself. Lying to yourself, even for the best reasons, is a disservice graver than any lie said by anyone else.
You deserve to be happy. You deserve more than just getting by. You deserve good things. You deserve to be loved for exactly who you are. Sometimes, we forget that.
And if you find someone who loves you for you? Hold on to that. Because that, my dears and darlings, is everything.