I don’t believe in coincidences. There’s too much that goes into a moment—too many factors—to pretend that something means nothing. It’s not random. It’s not happenstance. There are a handful of things, at the very least, that aligned, which results in a Thing Happening.
Yesterday, on my way home from work, I drove past—literally—someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, someone I have been thinking about. Someone who I miss, for a million reasons. The person was in the lane next to me, and there was this shock of recognition, as I leaned forward, “Is that…? It is.” But then, I drove through the intersection, and that was that.
This person isn’t someone I ordinarily run across. But things like this have happened in the past, in instances where it should’ve been impossible. Or, at the very least, highly unlikely. And yet. And still.
That happened. This small moment, literally at a crossroads. And it really got me thinking, more so than usual. Because so much has happened lately, and some of it isn’t mine to tell, but they’re the blindsiding moments that take your breath away. Sucker punches to the soul, the kind of things that make you stop, force you to stop and think about your life.
Are you doing what you want? Are you doing what you love? Are you with the person you love? Are you allowing yourself to be loved? Are you open to it? Are you open, period? (If the answer to any of these is “no,” then that’s something to think about.)
There are no guarantees. There is right now. And right now, whether or not we know or acknowledge it, we’re all at a crossroads. Every moment is a choice point. Every second is an opportunity. Seize it.
Because everyone has that person, right? That person you can’t stop thinking about. Maybe your reminders are less literal, less in-your-face than mine. But when it’s quiet, when the world stops demanding things of you, when it’s just you and your thoughts: what’s occupying them? Who’s occupying them? That thing your heart and your head on settle on?
Make the choice to bring it into your life. Because there’s just this moment, there’s only right now.
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
You know that moment right before you’re about to fall asleep – when everything is faded and fuzzy? It’s a slow fade into nothing…except when your brain decides to dredge up that really embarrassing moment when you were 14. Or you find yourself suddenly questioning what you’re doing with your life – and oh my god, you’re suddenly convinced that you’re kind of failing at everything. Or why, precisely, it feels like your love life is a very bad sitcom. This in-between moment is when you realize a simple truth: your brain is an asshole.
Of course, the reality is that the likely circumstance isn’t that these things appear out of nowhere. It’s more likely that you’ve just been studiously avoiding confronting these fears during the day. Finally, when you are no longer running and there’s nothing and no one to distract you, they rear their ugly little heads and cling onto you for dear life. So, mayyyybe your brain isn’t the asshole you think it is. Maybe it’s you. Wait, that came out wrong. Maybe it’s simply your brain’s way of saying, “Helllllllo, there’s this THING you should be dealing with.” Maybe you ran into someone you knew when you were 14, and that triggered the crappy memory. Maybe one of your friends posted something seemingly awesome on Facebook that made you a teensy bit jealous/worried – because you’re looking at a carefully crafted image of that person’s life, with none of the mess. (Side-note: do not compare your life to ANYONE else’s. It’s not a competition. It’s not a race. And the truth is that sometimes getting everything you wanted – on paper – isn’t as fulfilling as you hoped/imagined.) As for the love life thing…well, who hasn’t been there?
The heart of the matter is that things we often try and run away from, or ignore, are the things that keep chasing us. Like wolves. Hungry, rabid wolves. Dire wolves. And if you keep trying to flee, you’re a lovely moving target. So, it is important to handle what needs handling. Because it doesn’t go away.
As such, a confession: I started running the very moment I began to feel like this. I haven’t run in two years. I started running, initially, as a coping mechanism. This past weekend, I realized that I’m trying to use running as a coping mechanism again, and I’m basically a cliché. You see, here’s a second confession: this coming weekend, for me, is a hard one. It’s Mother’s Day, and it would’ve been my mother’s birthday. I have a shorter tolerance for humanity than usual. My first reaction to everything has been utter and total snark. I’ve managed, so far, to keep my wayward mouth closed (it does really seem, though, that people are being dumber than usual – which is NOT helping). But you know how things tend to build? Well, there’s that. And there’s really no outlet. There’s no one to really be angry at. There’s nothing to really do about it. It isn’t like I can avoid everything until Mother’s Day is over (but DEAR GODS, if I get ONE more add for something I should buy my mother for the holiday, I may explode). These are moments that you have to just get through. Plain and simple.
Except, honestly: it sucks monkey balls. So, I’m also acknowledging the suck. And the fact that I’ve been having dreams about my mom for the past week. Because, hey, nothing like my subconscious being a jerk. Dare I say, an asshole? Add to all this the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of self-evaluating, lately. I’ve been making some huge changes (huge, for me). There are people I’d normally talk to about all this who I’m not. That is not necessarily making life easier at all. But here’s a third confession: I’m stubborn. And I never want what isn’t freely given. I’m almost never going to ask for help or attention – and if I do manage to do that, it’s extremely difficult for me (so, feel special). I’ve always been the person who gives 3,000% – without expectation. That has, on occasion, given people the erroneous idea that I’ll always do that. Which…no. Nobody should do that in any relationship. On so many levels, I’m tired of running. I’m tired of not getting anywhere. I’m tired of being on that proverbial, and occasionally literal, treadmill.
I cannot outrun reality. I can’t outrun my own feelings. And it’s ironic how many people I’ve told exactly that to – and it seems I’m finally taking my own advice. Which means you should expect the apocalypse or at the very least flying pigs. Perhaps a small plague of locusts. This is me, being honest about what isn’t pristine or pretty.
So, I’m not running. I’m standing right here. I’m not diving into the wreck – but I am acknowledging it. There’s nothing noble about trying to pretend that everything’s fine when it isn’t. And I know that we often all do just that – smile for the sake of whatever. And I find myself wanting to know: what is it that you, perhaps, are avoiding right now? What are you smiling through, when that really isn’t how you feel? How fast are you running, without really getting anywhere? (And, you know, if you want to talk – but you don’t want to do it here – send me an email. I’ll listen. Er, read.)
“I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.” ~Adrienne Rich, “Diving into the Wreck”
My heart says: Call.
My brain says: Don’t.
My fear elbows in with:
You aren’t worth it. Nobody’s going
to fight for you. Forget it.
My courage shouts:
Fight for yourself.
My insecurity muses:
How? The situation is impossible,
because you are impossible.
My pride rebels:
Fuck impossible. Impossible
is just an excuse to quit.
My lesser self reminds:
You control nothing. This is not
your choice. You’re nobody’s choice.
You’re just a fool.
Then, last, like a lunatic –
love sticks its neck out,
love steps onto the train tracks,
love stands out in the rain,
love takes a bullet,
love opens its arms,
love stops pretending it doesn’t exist:
be furious in what you pursue,
don’t leave yourself resolved to less,
and let everything break
if it must –
there’s nothing beautiful about regret.
I love you.
What will you say next?
There are times where I don’t know what to say – because I want to say something, but each time I think about it, the words come out all wrong. There are times where I want to reach someone, but I don’t know how. I don’t know the magic bit of phrasing that will open a door or turn on a light bulb – or even, in the toughest cases, act like a wrecking ball. Walls, in my opinion, are only necessary when you are protecting yourself from actual harm – not, say, when you are afraid. Or trying, in theory, to protect someone else. You cannot do that.
Granted, it does take courage to let someone in. It’s never entirely easy, and it can be scary. Because, at the end of the day, it leaves you vulnerable. Sometimes, we are taught that openness/vulnerability is a kind of weakness – but it’s usually only when that openness has been exploited by somebody. That does happen. And it can leave a person feeling raw and gun-shy. But I think that no matter how many times we get hurt, we get back up. We dust off our hearts and bruises, and we try again. We give people chances. We dance in the dance. We dance in the dark. We strip it all done and leave ourselves bare – because the risk is worth the potential that we gain when we do that.
I believe in people, even though humanity at large can be disappointing. I believe in letting people in, even when it isn’t pretty –even when it is downright ugly as hell. Real life and real relationships aren’t always squeaky clean. I don’t believe in perfection. I believe in flaws. And flaws are okay. And so are mistakes. Life is messy. Love is messy. And that mess, however unpredictable and difficult, can be so damn beautiful. When someone allows you to see their mess, that’s an honest connection. It can happen in small ways. It can happen in big ways. But it’s important for it to happen.
But back to my initial point: there are moments where I just don’t know what to do or say. I want to do or say something, because my first instinct is always to help or protect. If I’m claimed you as my people, part of my tribe – no matter what the circumstances – I will always want to lend you a hand, or an ear, or a hug. Whatever I can do, I want to do it. So, when I find myself in a situation where I’m not sure how to proceed, how to help, or even if that help would be welcome…it leaves me feels off-kilter. I’ve gotten better at patience in this respect, but it isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I can be the most patient person on earth, but sometimes that just goes totally out the window – and I find myself chomping at the proverbial bit. I want to fix. It is just a thing I can’t really tamp down. And, really, if I could, I wouldn’t want to. It is an important part of who I am.
This morning, I’m trying to decide if keeping quiet is the wiser course of action. It goes against everything I believe. But it is also a matter of realizing that not everything is mine to fix. And sometimes, it isn’t easy my place – or I’m not sure that it is. Relationship dynamics can be weird. Still, at the end of the day, I think it’s important for those we love to know that a) we love them and b) they’re not alone. Knowing that someone has your back, knowing that someone loves you and is just there – it makes all the difference in the world. And the truth is, if I love you, I’m always in your corner. I’m always here.
So, maybe, it’s not a matter of finding the right words, per se. Maybe it is merely a matter of letting someone know they’re loved. Something as simple as, “I love you. I’m here.” Because there are times where you really can’t do anything. But that? That reassurance? It can change the tide. It can turn the tables. I’ve said it before, that something as simple as “I love you. I’m here.” is powerful. And you can bet your heart that I believe the hell out of that.
If you’re having a bad day, a bad week, a bad whatever – I love you. I’m here. Whatever you need, whenever you need it. Lean on me. I’m stronger than I look, darlings. And if you don’t know that by now, darlings, you’re not looking at me hard enough.
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
There are moments that are just…right. There are days where you wake up and you know. There are times where everything is a song, and the lyrics are at once beautiful and indecipherable. In those moments, the beauty is enough to sustain you. You don’t need to understand. You can let go and just be. Because everything is right. Because sideways or not, things feel perfect and hopeful. Because you have a reason that’s wordless and wild, like a heartbeat that’s thrumming its way through your body.
Some things are what they are. Some moments are born of a different skin. Some mornings, you wake up — and you just smile. Because love is love. Because things grow out of ashes. Because there’s no reason to look down when things are looking up.
A sprinkler went off this morning. It wasn’t something I knew was going to happen. One of the sprinkler heads was broken, so it shot up like a geyser. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have even seen it — because the others ran too close to the ground. But it was the broken one that brought my attention to the moment. It was the broken one that said this is happening. That, my dear hearts and darlings, is the best metaphor I have for pretty much everything.
Despite the surprises, despite what might seem like insanity or chaos, things are right. Things are good. And this is everything that’s beautiful about life. *raises coffee mug* Here’s to today, my dears. May yours be as full of beautifully broken things — and odd moments full of such strange chaos and grace.