They say good writing is about telling the truth, and as a book whore, I understand that. Good novels lift up their shirts and let us cop a feel. Great writing cuts through the bullshit and comforts us with it’s intimacy. If writers don’t tell the truth, we don’t trust them as narrators, and a lot of good can come from just being truthful and taking a chance. I am no Ernest Hemingway or Milan Kundera, but I think there is a lot people don’t say. What we present to the world is a block of stone, and underneath there is a David – a David with stifled feelings and things left unsaid. It feels very Hunger Games, Capitol-ish to swallow up a glaring truth – one that everyone is aware of, but no one talks about.
The truth is, each of grasps at air, every day, clamoring for the things we need. We walk out the door into the clean light of early morning, the heat of rising out of our coffee thermoses like snakes, and we are trying to fill holes. We need things. The state of the world gets to us, stress gets to us, and if we don’t get the things we need, we get sick of our own company, and we get sick of it fast. Our needs are the reason we pick up the pieces of our hearts, and hand them warily to the next future heart basher. Our needs are the reason we fall to our knees in prayer.
We shouldn’t be desperate for it, but we need love. For me, to reach for someone in the morning would be nice. Someone who sees me stepping out of the shower with Einstein hair and mascara running down my cheekbones, and even so, says “You are so beautiful.” I can’t need a person, and I recognize Mr. Right might never find my address, but we do need love – of all kinds. We should keep some space between us and the other person – so when the love moves, as it inevitably will, we don’t hurt so badly when it does. Go to the airport arrival gate and watch – watch the different varieties of love and the magic it carries. The hugging and kissing between mothers and daughters, old friends, brothers and sisters. There is something so eternal about it – something that makes me feel like it’s the reason we are here in the first place. Whatever form it comes in, we need at least one love that belongs on movie screens.
I have a girlfriend I’ve known since we both had braces, and we went surfing recently. Her house burned down, we graduated college, we’ve cycled through boyfriends and bad habits. She scooped up ocean water, let it pour down through her fingers, and said “Isn’t is crazy how far we’ve come?” Wherever we find it, we need intimacy that feels like fitting two pieces of a puzzle together. If we can’t find that, loneliness beats down on us so hard, we turn to other things to ease the pain. We draw sadly on cigarettes, or pour more than a few glasses of wine. We start to become co-dependent on our significant other. Everybody has their crutch – and you would be fooling yourself to think you didn’t have one.
We also need to be visible. In our headspace somewhere, renown and prestige are drinking martinis and smoking cigars. We want to earn Pulitzer Prizes and law degrees – to press our thumbprint onto the topography of the world. Whatever it is, we just want to be seen. We need to make sense of our lives, too. Another of our needs is the need to belong. We want our phone to ring – we want to have friends to meet up with for a beer. We need all of these things, and we need them desperately.
But the truth is, I never have everything all at once – or at least, very rarely I do. But I can always have love. You can love the ones that are hardest to forgive – the ones that hurt you, and disappointed you, betrayed you, or ignored you. What if we connected with the people we think about, but are too afraid to call? What if we paid compliments and did random acts of kindness for strangers? I think this is the whole point, because when I think back on the best moments of my life, they were those spent in a spirit of love. Times when friends rose to the occasion – moments people were there for me when my life was a mess. Romantic loves that eventually went sour, but whose friendships, confidences, and memories I remember. When we are mad at someone or we can’t let something go, we are hurting ourselves. If we could just love that relationship for what it is, and hope that that love continues as friendship, I think we have the right attitude.
We all know we are going to die – what’s important is the kind of men and women we are in the face of this fact. I asked myself the other day, what do I want most in the world? My sisters were home, and I was driving around in my old car – a white Volvo sedan. My sister Nina won’t throw cigarette butts out the window because it’s bad for the environment, so the car gave off this sickly sweet smell, and ash and butts were littered down the center console. That poor car has been through hell. It’s a sobering question – what do you want most in the world? The truth is, when I put it that way, I want a lot more love. Friend love, co-worker love, family love, boyfriend love, husband love – just love in general. More parties and more movie nights. More phone calls and more forgiveness. When The Beatles said “All you need is love,” they were right, and I think this is the time of year when people get that the most. But we should be this nice to each other all year. We should remember that love is the only thing that really matters.