A few weekends ago I bought a DVD.
Yes, I know, I promised I wouldn’t.
But I did it for love.
Last year I had bought the movies ‘Before Sunset’ and ‘Before Sunrise’ on one DVD and when I finally got around to watching them a few weeks ago, I simply couldn’t wait to find out what happened to these characters in the third movie ‘Before Midnight’.
I was so caught up in their love story that I broke one of my goals for The Year of More – to not buy any DVDs for 12 months. I briefly thought about renting it from my video store (yes, they still exist!) but I was pretty sure I would want to watch it again so I chose to invest $12.95 in my own copy instead.
Did I need to buy it? No. But love makes us do irrational and impulsive things sometimes.
On the Scale of Irrational and Impulsive Things this one is quite minor of course, but it’s a slippery slope to The Bigger Things. Trust me, I know from experience. That slope is desperately slippery at times.
I have done many, many, many Irrational and Impulsive things in The Name of Love.
Fictional love has a fairly hefty gravitational pull but real life love has the greatest gravitational pull of all.
Think about the romantic love stories in your life.
The first one.
The grand ones.
The painful ones.
The one you perhaps still daydream about from time to time.
The one which continues.
The ones which have ended.
The ones which helped you grow.
Which is hopefully all of the above. Love should always help us to grow.
So it got me thinking about the price we pay for love.
The price we pay can be monetary.
Surely they are four of the most beautiful words ever put together to form a short sentence.
That’s love in itself isn’t it?
I think about all of these things when I think about falling in love again. Except perhaps, the ideal of him being taller, although I’m sure there’s another ideal kicking around in my heart that is screaming out to be satisfied. Although I think it’s simply that he will accept me warts and snorts and all for The Quirky Being I Am.
I applaud people who are brave enough to Love Again.
That’s me, in case that was a tad vague.
I guess like anything in life, love is about doing a risk analysis. Yes, you can even be nerdy with love.
Is what I’m giving up – freedom, heart safety, possession of the remote control (omg, would that mean I might have to get the TV aerial fixed and watch football again?? Surely not!), financial independence, 100% decision making about my life, being responsible for Just My Little Old Self and most importantly, giving up the delightful life I’m living now.
In exchange for…
Love in its grandest of grand forms.
A love made of tougher stuff than all previous versions in my life have been.
A love to share in the most intimate of ways.
A love which withstands fear and vulnerability.
A love which grows as strong and solid as a gum tree.
A love which laughs out loud and snorts along with me.
A love which allows me to continue to grow as my own person.
The Love Known is a place of security and never-ending possibility. It's a place people long to reside.
I’ve never forgotten sitting next to a couple on a plane flying from LA to London when I was a very naïve twenty-one year old. They were a couple in their thirties; he English, she American. She cried from the moment she sat down in the seat next to me. Not quiet crying. Gut-wrenching, heartbreaking sobs. After an hour or so, she got up to go to the bathroom and her husband and I got talking. He explained they’d just gotten married and they were moving to London to live. A happy story one might think. So why was she so upset?
Because she had two children she was leaving behind in California. I can’t quite remember why they couldn’t live in the States but there was some problem with his visa so they were going to live in the UK for a few years and then move to LA to be closer to her children.
Even my young, naïve self knew how significant that must be for a parent to do.
Leaving children behind is a rather hefty price to pay for love isn’t it?
Due to my insatiably curious nature, over the years I’ve often wondered what happened to them. Did their marriage survive or was the price she paid too high? How did her children cope in her absence? What message did her actions send to them about love and relationships?
When we hear about people making huge decisions like this, we often feel as though we have a right to weigh in. To have an opinion. And too often, to voice an opinion.
But we never ever know what’s really going on for someone else. In their head and their heart. We can never look at someone else’s life through our Life Lens. It’s hard enough making Big Life Decisions without having everyone judge you for them at the same time.
I remember thinking this was surely the most difficult decision of this woman’s young life and I felt compassion for her but I was also a little bewildered about how she could seemingly choose a man ahead of her children.
I’m sure his reasons for abdicating were not as clear cut as merely ‘being in love’ but I guess he felt he would find greater happiness with her, than he would being the King of England. Not a small price to pay.
That’s the interesting thing about the concept of ‘sliding doors’, we never ever know what our lives would have been like had we gone through the other door instead.
Where would you be now if you’d taken that chance on love?
Where would you be now if you hadn’t given up on that relationship which hadn’t quite reached its use-by date?
Where would you be now if you’d realised a long time ago that the person you’re with is not the person your heart truly longs to love?
But I did it anyway. Involuntarily and painfully. Until I stopped to remind myself that I chose a different life than the one I could have shared with him. And that I have a Most Lovely Life which I wouldn't trade for all the chocolate in Willy Wonka's little factory.
But sometimes our hearts squeeze with excitement or love or breathtaking longing for what once was. Or might have been. Or may still be. And yet the reality of it is always different than our vision because once we have ‘it’ or once we get ‘there’, our perspective changes yet again. That's where the premise of 'I'll be happy when' comes from. If we think like that, we'll never actually ever be happy because it's always something we're striving for. Something we’re trying to attain. Something we don’t yet have.
I know I’m happy now. Right where I am. Happiness isn’t something I find elusive and mysterious. It’s not something that I’m always seeking. Because it’s already beside me.
Could I be happier with a partner?
I think that would bring a different type of happiness to my life – and an entirely new set of challenges (to say the least!) - but not having a partner certainly doesn’t take anything away from the high level of contentment I feel most of the time.
And I know from experience that love seems to find me when I least expect it. And often at a time that is rather inconvenient. But find me it does. And no doubt it will happen again.
I often read about love that moves me to tears. I adore love so it doesn’t take much for something or someone to touch my heart. But this is something different than your typical love story. This is about letting go of love with a heart filled with love. This letter is written by a man to his wife of 20 years, on the day they got divorced.
Imagine if we could all end relationships with this much love and respect for our partners?
Did I ‘need’ a bench? No.
Did I want to do something special to honour my Mum. Absolutely.
Does my heart squeeze each time I read the words etched on the plaque I’ve had made for her? Every Single Time. Because the plaque is filled with words which embody the life she lived.
It squeezes because I would rather she could sit on the bench – any bench - beside me.
It squeezes because I wish I’d loved her a little better while she was here. I wish I’d looked past her fears and her vulnerabilities and gravitated more toward the immense love she held for me.
There is no such thing as small love.
The sun has risen and set more than one thousand times since I last sat by her side. As I gently held my hand over her heart as it took one last beat on this earth. Just as she would have felt for my first few heartbeats when I was born.
Can there be a more patient love than that which is simply present as another soul breathes?
As I was born with a tireless desire to rustle through the debris to unearth the positives in every situation, I do my best to turn sad occasions into happier ones. Not necessarily happy ones, but simply happier than they would otherwise be. So I send another mother a Mother’s Day gift each year to ease the pain of not being able to send something to my Mum. And today I started another new tradition. I took three beautiful bunches of roses to the Buderim Crematorium and Gardens and I placed the flowers one at a time near the plaques devoid of flowers. I cried the entire time but it did fill my heart with a Kind of Happiness.
I walked around the gardens and read the messages of love forever etched onto plaques slightly tarnished by time. My heart squeezed as I saw two toy cars beside a boy who was stillborn. Toys he would never play with but which someone felt compelled to give. A ceramic pair of dance shoes sat patiently near a little girl who died aged six.
Imagine if we had the opportunity to say goodbye to the people we love - they leave us, seemingly forever - and we truly feel the absence of them in our lives, we realise just how much we miss them and how much we value them and how we are eternally grateful they were woven into the colourful threads of our lives. And most of all, we deeply feel how much love we have for them residing in every corner and available space of our shattered hearts. Then imagine how we would feel if they were miraculously returned to our lives. How different we would be, how different our relationships would be, how awesomely different humanity would be. We think we know the impact loss will have on our lives but we don't until it actually happens. The reality of it is so very different - so much more brutal and heart-wrenchingly final - than anything our imaginations can possibly create. My wish is that we somehow find a way to feel that difference while our special someones are still here... so we appreciate them more, we accept them fully for who they are - right now, today - and we love them far beyond our capacity to love.
'I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.' Pablo Neruda, 100 Love Sonnets