I have often pondered compassion. We talk about it and I honestly think that compassion, much like other words (choice, freedom, etc.) have become just buzz phrases thrown around cheaply lacking thought or meaning. With compassion, for example, we often talk about it in reference to showing it to others, rarely ourselves. This quote provided yet another side of compassion that we fail to remember-the fact that it connects us and binds us to that very person, place, thing that we witness. In showing the compassion and opening up, it is not just the warm fuzzies or feel goods in order to illustrate that you too can have empathy (which it has become in a lot of ways). It is also making space for the other things that come with the said show or embrace of compassion.
So many cliches about silence, talking, and the mouth:
A closed mouth does not get fed;
Silence is golden;
Speak your truth.
However, sadly I have discovered the following: a closed mouth will keep the announcement of your hunger/want to yourself and at least won’t carry the burden of judgement or exposure. Silence is not golden and is pregnant with hopes, dreams, and so many other things that it is heavier than words; and speaking your truth gets you punished & leaves you naked.
While silence may be a heavy cold prison it is also refuge.
Sometimes we reject ourselves then blame others for that rejection. It certainly is easier to finger point or to claim that something was lost that never was. Certainly, I’ve sat on that side of that table many times because it is easier to avoid responsibility and leave it as baggage for someone else to claim.
However, sometimes I am prudent enough to remember during those moments or even while looking behind me, that nothing was taken away. I never lost anything and rejection never happened. It is the table we are not allowed to sit at that avoids us from taking a seat that would have collapsed to the group. It is the door we never walk through that prevents us from a free-fall-face-plant into concrete madness.
Thus, In many ways, the universe breaks us out of our own prisons or prevents us from ever entering them to avoid us from doing time & not realizing it.
Things happen if, when, where, and how they are supposed to. Sure, you would change, adjust tweak. Wish something out of existence like an interaction with a particular soul.
The need to repaint the scene of experience upon a particular canvas in the past with a different brush. The want of power to ensure that the children of your wounds or scars are buried within the abyss of an abyss.
But, what good does any of this wishing or want do?
Even if we had such powers, it wouldn’t guarantee arrival at the soul heart’s destination. Thus, things happen if, when, where and how they should. Tis our job to dare to dance and celebrate all of it. Even if we cut our feet upon the shattered glass or slip upon the tears caused by these various dramas let life’s shards be your confetti and tears but sweet wine. © Shanta L.E.
This particular quote is inspired by the various conversations I have had with individuals in the Vermont area in regards to health. Upon moving to Vermont from Connecticut one of the things I recognized was the food culture and some of the hard lines that individuals took in regards to the who, what, when and how of their food. It is not something that has been anything I would title as a good or a bad experience but just eye opening in many ways. While I have definitely learned a lot from these interactions, I have also felt equally frustrated. These personal interactions I have had continued to feed my pondering: are we becoming imprisoned by our fear or free from all of this knowledge on how we should be living?
“Sure, I could walk the tight rope of do’s and don’t’s as far was what I do in action and what I ingest. But what good will it do if I am mentally unhappy while in a prison of paranoia about the next stage of what I “shouldn’t” be doing in my daily life? What did everyone do when there wasn’t a cacophony of voices erupting in the human overload of should, should not’s, don’ts and do’s? You will either have a short flame or long flame that will be full of many beautiful wildfires. Either way, the length of time will be equal to a mere quick spark & for the favored ones, there will be embers left of their tracks, their voices, and their way long after their fire has moved on. But it is our choice—become prisoner and guard over our prisons of paranoia while we perfect the landscape our lunatic labyrinths OR ride your stallion of life wild as your eyes and ears blur to the fear-based phantasmic symphony that others will continue to sing.” © Shanta L.E.
What if everyone believed they were enough: A Love Story:
*Short story inspired by a conversation & a dedication for all who don’t believe that they are enough.*
Once upon a time-every little boy and girl was told that they were enough at the start of their day and as a reminder as they were tucked into their beds.
In this particular world, no one was told to tinker upon themselves or “become” in order to get their friendships, partnerships, loveships;
Individuals were not encouraged to go find & affix mismatched pieces in order to appear whole;
Polish was never applied nor any buffing ever took place to cover up the rusty or dull parts;
And bandages were not encouraged to be applied in order to cover and hide the wounds & scar tissue.
Instead, here, everyone who came together did so because they wanted each soul as their beautifully-broken-battered-missing-piece-unpolished selves.
Here, no one needed any fixing in order to gain acceptance or love.
So, what if we all just knew we were enough? Perhaps we should all shudder at the very thought of how awestricking that would be?
”You want a happily ever after with a back up and help as a single mom. And you, you want your travel around the world with a husband and maybe a baby. Everybody on this planet wants their happily ever after and their forever, but neither of those things exist. There is only the moment. And who knows how long that moment is going to last.”
A Stranger in a Local Hang Out Talking to Two Women
We all sat around the kitchen table. It sounds like the cliche opening to the start of a revolution. This is mostly due to my undergraduate gender studies classes and historical feminist scenarios where most of the initial actions towards change started with the kitchen table.
We weren’t starting a revolution though but perhaps we were in some small way. ”But what is love, what does it mean?” My friend asked almost in a slightly exasperated yet pleasantly eager tone. I sat across from her and was avoiding answering the question in relation to a personal situation I was discussing. Another friend of hers stopped by for a visit and he was sitting to my left. You could almost hear the wheels turning in between the stops and starts of definitions as the sun beat down on the table that we all occupied on this winter day. “Do you have a sketch book” her friend asked “I will draw it. But continue.” I proceeded to answer my friend’s question by talking about soul mates, hieros gamos (the idea of sacred union), and at some points said “I don’t know, I can’t really describe it with words.” Some of our puzzling questions tried to find the fine line between liking someone and love, missing someone and thinking of them often, is that love?
For my own reasons, I was avoiding pegging any of that to anything that could or would be called love. As we talked and intermittently slumped down into our chairs as if weighed by the very burden of the topic, the sketch was positioned right in front of us. As our eyes rested upon the “sketch of love” I finished up some of my ongoing thoughts with a question, “Well then they also say we are already love and if we are love, why are we looking for it? We are it right?” My friend’s friend started to explain his sketch to us that involved love as an exchange and those involved as either opened or closed. As he finished his explanation, my friend and I were staring intensely at the sketch asking more questions that did not seem to have answers.
“I don’t know” the author of the sketch then stated simply, “I don’t know. I am bad at it”, “Me too” my friend chimed in. I looked at both of them with a serious look and with dramatic action I raised my voice and made noise upon the table “No. NO! Listen, we aren’t bad at it. How could humans be bad at something that they keep trying. No matter how many times we get hurt by it, ripped, or crushed by that we call love, as human beings we are still all foolishly running into the fire, still seeking out love out of hope. Sure, our relationships may not have lasted but how could anyone be at at something that they keep trying over and over and over again out of nothing other than hope that maybe this time, this time it won’t be so damaging.”
At some point there were some nods while all of us sitting around the table were still filled with unanswered questions. Long after the some laughs and good-byes were exchanged, that conversation stayed in my head. The afternoon in which we all sat around pondering love as if we were characters right out of Plato’s Symposium. All of us pleading our case but then parting ways knowing that we’d not solved that mystery of that which we call love. Perhaps this is the reason why we have to remind ourselves to keep celebrating it on a special day in order to give ourselves a break from putting it on trail as we do in our daily lives.
*Part 3 in Week Long Series. Part 2 of The Language of Love of this entry.
For a while I said I was a romantic of love and all of the things that went along with it. I still claim this description but I have separated the meaning apart from the visions or ideals that others may hold for what it means. I also had to call myself out on my beliefs about love and then pose the question of whether or not I truly believe in it. In all honestly, the way we have placed love on our operating table to dissect it, we have killed it in many ways.
According to some, the celebration of a Valentine’s Day is anti-romantic because it doesn’t do enough to reinforce the message that love should be happening everyday.
However, the Hollywood or Hallmark version of love isn’t the only challenge, there is also the language that we have used to describe it and talk about it (as outlined above). We have made the stacks high and perhaps impossible in regards to love, being loved, accepting it, etc. With all of the earning, keeping, and becoming in order for one to supposedly attract love we have to then on top of that make sure the person is a soul mate or twin flame? According to some, what we have been discussing and measuring isn’t really love but the cheapened or poser-esque version of it that we have all created and massed produced in American culture. Certainly, we are not the first individuals to define and confine love in the many ways that we do. So, if it isn’t all of these things that we have cheapened with our language and actions, then what is it? Is it just the chemicals released into our bloodstream? Is it the size of the diamond ring that a person buys when they want to show their partner and the world how much the love is worth? Or is it another configuration of illustrations, actions, words? For some, the answer is already inside of us as opposed to anything that we could ever dream up outside of ourselves. If that is indeed true, then we had it all wrong all along.
Serendipitously, as I wrap up this piece I’ve also stumbled upon listening to an interview on VPR about love and all of the things that people think that it is or is not. There is also a story about love that I remember when I read a compilation of Plato’s work. It was a story about a conversation that Socrates is having with Diotima about the nature of love (get the shorthand version here). Diotima’s parable illustrates love as the offspring of Plenty and Lack. Thus, love as either starved or content. Perhaps this is something to consider amidst all of our modern myths and stories about what love is or is not even as we play it out in our personal lives. In fact, one does not have to be familiar with Plato’s work to see that we have waxed and waned between these extremes of feeling like we don’t have enough of love or hunger for it or just content with the love that darkens are doorsteps. Then again, if love is always hunger or plenty, how can we ever enjoy it as it is?
Imagine the possibility of the quote that I paraphrased from my friend at the beginning of this blog entry. That no one could give you love, bring it to you or take it away (almost similar to energy in that you can’t destroy it nor create it but it can change forms). Imagine that you were just love all on your own. This thinking certainly shifts the responsibility but also has a great possibility for us to stand a little taller within ourselves. I have been pondering love for most of my life and often wondered about the need for another sex revolution alongside of that. Probably the next rebellion should be one that takes love off of the operating table in order to bring it back to life and redefine it for ourselves as ourselves.
*Part 3 in Week Long Series. Part 1 of The Language of Love of this entry.
“When someone leaves they can’t take love from you, you already have it. And no one can give you love. Once you start talking about giving and taking love, it is no longer love and you have put a price on it.” A paraphrase from a conversation with a friend
“Here in Brattleboro, the odds are good but the goods are odd.” A friend repeating a line that another friend stated about love and partnership in Brattleboro
Sometimes love isn’t about breaking people together but breaking people apart.”
VPR Vermont Edition
Have you ever stopped to think about how we talk about love in our everyday language? Here is just a snapshot to help conjure up some of the things we regularly say about love:
Love By Measurement/Love as Deficit/Love as Surplus:
Keeping love/Losing Love
“I have to earn his/her love”; “S/he has to earn my love”
“S/he loves hard”
“Make sure he loves you more than you love him.”
“Remind s/he why they fell in love with you in the first place.”
And Speaking of the Heart…
“My heart is open”
“My heart is closed”
“My heart is broken”
“My heart is froze”
I have very guilty of all of these statements as well as bearing witness to them. But here is my question for myself and all of us who mention the human heart and its depth in this way, can we still call it a heart when we have placed doors or bars upon it? When we measure its capacity and abilities, is it still the heart we are describing?
Most of these statements communicate a certain prerequisite in regards to participating in love which include (but not limited to):
- You have to love in a certain way some either don’t love enough or love too much. Either way one should adjust how they love.
- You are not enough. There is something that you have to be, do or say in order to be considered to be worthy of love. There are also things that you are, do or say that illustrates your unworthiness with love.
- Love is not enough all on its own—we must help it along by setting a price on it, trading it, or bartering it in some way, shape or form.
Just looking at all of these statements about love and the human heart (and just is just a few of them but a main summary of the main ones) how can anyone say they are romantic?
“My female friends and I share love stories with each other often in the middle of the night. It is not the stuff you’d ever read in a storybook, but better. In many ways, it feels like we are handing each other the hope that has been broken, battered and tattered along the way. Through each of the visions painted with these words that tell of the exploits of the love warriors, passion marauders, and all other classes of badasses we are telling each other not to give up. Stitching together what seemed to be lost along the way while handing each other the vision that one day, we too will share a story….and this time it will be our own.” © Shanta L.E.
This story in particular that I was listening to was told by my friend in Malaysia. While she and I are separated by just over 9,000 miles (according to google maps it is 9,358 miles to be exact), we were talking about the love/relationship challenges that plagued both of us. That night, we giggled often with the candor of school girls in between describing the attributes of our ideal “he” that had yet to darken our doorsteps. I am not sure at what point it happened, but my giggling came to a halt as I started to listen to a story she wanted to share. Leading up to the start of the story, we gazed at each other through our computer screens with the help of skype. Somehow I knew that what she had to share was important as a serious look came across her face while intent invaded her voice. This particular story was about a man who loved a woman so much that he walked several miles to prove it.
“Shanta, I want to tell you about my friend. She was a beautiful older woman and she had a lover. Another man was also interested in her and he decided to become engaged with her knowing of her circumstances. For whatever reason there was a fight or disagreement that took place between her and her newer lover. The man did not have any money to go see his love, so he decided to walk. He walked 25 miles to get to her doorstep. He could have asked her to send a cab but he was intent on walking. By time he arrived, it was the middle of the night so she was surprised to get a knock at her door. When she opened it, she was surprised to see him. After he expressed that he had to see her and loved her, both of them collapsed into tears at the sight of each other. The remainder of the night, she helped to tend to the blisters upon his feet.”
Both of us excitedly stated that we wanted that man….the man who would walk 25 miles for us. And while it is quite possible that I am missing some key pieces of this story the importance is in the overall message and the fact that it actually happened as opposed to the detail. Love may indeed have blisters upon its feet and tears. Love perhaps is that painful journey, yet one to be proudly made as it finds its way no matter way to the intended doorstep no matter what. It was this story that inspired the quote I crafted at the beginning of this entry. It is her story, and many of the other stories that my friends have shared that waters the hope that a love between two people can be so deep that it would make an ocean jealous.
But it isn’t about going to hunt that type of love down. Maybe it is allowing yourself to open the door to let it in even when it has been bruised in trying to get to you.