Love casts a wide net. We tend to think of love in terms of “I do’s,” freshly cut umbilical cords and golden anniversaries. But love is so much more alive than that. Love is like one of those huge boxes of crayons. Lots of colors.
Love can live in places. Like in a birthday card en route in a blue post office box. Love can reverberate off the walls in shouting voices and slamming doors. It can be signed in divorce papers. Wished upon in crossed fingers. Squished by someone’s bones when they kneel upon it in prayer.
Love lives in brick and mortar. Like in hospital chapels where people beg for a little more time. Love floats in gynecology wings – where little lives start to unravel their spools. They breathe for the first time, and it’s like a stitch falling out. The rest will follow – scrapes, lovers, dreams, landscapes, graduations, failures.
Love is in a lipstick a woman buys for her anniversary dinner. It’s in the paint of the beautiful and thought-provoking murals at the Berlin Wall. It’s in the eyes looking back in “Mona Lisa.” It’s in the heartbreak of Sylvia Plath’s poems and it was on the set of American Beauty. Love is in the making of a three pointer to win the game as the buzzer sounds. It’s at the funeral of a really decent man.
I think love is Life at its finest hour. The panned gold. The ring in the Cracker Jack Box. The chocolate mint on our hotel room pillows. The promise of something new. The feeling of having the world at your fingertips.
Love is in the pause between the parents when the nurses ask the baby’s name. You can find it in a glass of port on Christmas Eve, or in the flash of cameras on the red carpet. It’s in the pages of a teenage girl’s diary, and in the testing room for the Bar Exam. Love throws out a lot of hooks – billions upon billions – and it’s kind’ve cool to look at them. From a space shuttle kind of view.
Last Monday morning, I had my toothbrush in my mouth, a singing kettle in the kitchen, and an open email in front of me at 7 a.m on my bathroom counter. As I rushed to swipe on mascara, I stabbed myself in the eye, and thought, I should watch The Colbert Report. Intelligent people watch The Colbert Report. I tipped over a bottle of eye makeup remover, ran to get the kettle, ripped my shirt off, tried another one, and thought, So-and-so has a better body than me. Furious concealer wiping. I shouldn’t have eaten those Milanos yesterday. And I’m asking questions, like, What am I doing with my life? and How do you make hard boiled eggs? and When am I going to paint my nails? and How is Beyonce so awesome?
Van Gogh said, “The best way to know God is to love many things.” And Ray Bradbury said, “You can only go with loves in this life.” And it sounds simple enough: fill with your life with loves. Multiple and many. Macaroni and cheese stuffed sandwiches to lawyering. A really good whiskey to those chutes at Beaver Creek.
But it can be hard to get quiet and just be. To cut away all the stuff that doesn’t matter. Like trimming fat off of meat.
The goal would be to do that – to get very Mr. Miyagi – so you can look around and say, “Wow.” So you can hear your heart beat and know you’re younger than you’ll ever be, wiser than you’ve ever been, and you’re the only you. Then maybe you could say, “I’m going to go to Macchu Piccu. What’s the next step to make this dream a reality?” Or, “I’m going to write that book, go for that job, or tell that person how I really feel, because if I don’t, I’ll die with regrets.”
Now, enters Stage Left – Real Life. Namely, rent checks, electricity bills, deadlines, insecurities, the general fear of the unknown, a proscribed amount of vacation time, and so on and so forth. In the face of the piling bills and mounting fears, we start to say, “Someday.” “I’ll do it,” we say, “Just after I do this.”
“Someday” is dangerous. I feel like “Someday” is the equivalent to the Elephant Graveyard in The Lion King. “Someday” is where dreams go to die. And it’s not like I’m the model Dream Executor. But because I’m too old to be on my parents’ health insurance plans and I can rent a car, I’m starting to see life goes quick. Quicker than you think it will.
But I love green (ahem, the color), surfing, Vienna, See’s Candies, good novels, baths, hot yoga… I love my mother. I’m eternally grateful she’s the one that was sent to me from the Land of Mothers. I am truly lucky she’s the one who fills my stockings when Santa calls in sick. She’ll put money in purse without me knowing it – especially since #starvingartistdom. I love how the light refracts off her wedding ring and makes rainbows on the wall. And not everybody gets mothers. Some people get mothers, but they don’t get good ones.
I love the way coastline looks from the water at night. I put my feet on my board, wrap my arms around myself because it’s cold, and the city puts on its pajamas. A string of yellow lights from hotels – houses stacked on hills – blink against the black. It’s soundless except for the crashing waves behind me, and no one could reach me if they tried. As this little Milky Way lights up the black desert mesas and piers, I get back to ground zero. A Super Nintendo-style reset.
We can love the little things harder. We can pay more attention. Reach for new things to love. Not just the same friends, family members, and hobbies. We can and should be remembering to do new things. See other corners of the world. Dust off the miracles on the things we love already.
I want to have some perspective about it all. To pinch my arm, and remind myself that my little life – in comparison to the age of the earth – is a blip. Sooner than I think, I’ll be embarrassed about the state of my neck skin. Sooner than I think, I’ll be sending out “4-0!” birthday party invitations. I don’t want to wait until then to get fiercely interested. To love more and worry less. There are people out there to meet, things to learn how to do, passions to pursue. More loves to collect.
I think sometimes we think, “When so-and-so or such-and-such shows up, everything will right itself.” “If I do this, everything will come together.” But what if no person, place, or thing can make you more whole than you already are? It’s almost like a relief – this fact. Then you just show up with gusto. So much gusto. And you realize that your grandma still looks in the mirror and can’t believe how quickly the time passed.
I want to soak up as much of the beauty of the world as I’m capable of. And if I don’t do this now, when will I?