The other night I was quickly walking through a well-known discount department store to its stationary section, because a while back I had found a journal there that I’ve come to adore and I wanted to see if they had any more.
I had visions of buying like 5, already beginning to conceive of all the gorgeous unknown future realizations and reflections that would be birthed therein over the coming years. But alas as is often the case at such meccas of overstock and odd ends, there were none of these journals left to be had.
Well, when I go shopping, I get kind of overwhelmed by all the sensory stimulation. Without consciously doing so, it’s as if I’m trying to take in every single piece of visual information all at once, so as not to miss a single thing. Kind of like a FOMO on visual input, I don’t want to risk not seeing that one fantastically amazing thing. So as I walk down the main aisle, I’m always peeking down the side aisles and through to the aisle that runs parallel, on the other side. Visually scanning and scoping the merchandise like it’s my job. And as I was doing this the other night, I saw this curiously inviting flash of pink and orange and gold, a colorful swirl that immediately and palpably drew me in before I could even read what was scrawled across it in forward-leaning, gold-painted brush strokes. It had a similar effect on another woman walking by at the same time, actually. We spoke about it briefly, about how it took us by surprise as it wasn’t really our thing. She chuckled and told me she had no need for it as she continued down the aisle, ever so subtly shaking her head. I stayed with it for a good long while before deciding to buy it, reading and re-reading it, mesmerized by the piece as well as the pull I was feeling toward it.
“Love never fails,” it said.
Now to be perfectly honest, if you and I were having a chat and you were to tell me that you had become enchanted by some thing emblazoned with the words “Love never fails,” I’d likely have to try very hard to restrain myself from letting out a sighing smirking eye roll snort of some sort. It’s just a little schmaltzy for my general tastes, and I’ve never been into declarations of the power of love outside of those from Huey Lewis and his News, of course. Give me a mantra or affirmation on the power of oneself or a higher force, and I’m so there. My office, hallway, even the tile backsplash behind my kitchen sink are all covered with inspirational and meaningful words and thoughts on presence, joy, alignment, and shining your light. Yet much though I do indeed love Love, the idea of unconditionally trusting it brings out my inner realist or cynic, depending on the way you slice that bread.
Joyfully proud to have faith in practically everything else under this glorious sun, I’ve always felt some need to make it clear that I recognize the failings and frailties of love.
No offense to Love, but in my thinking of it, it has some serious limitations. Namely, human error. Every day people love each other dearly yet shit all over one another. They lie to and cheat on and deeply hurt the people they love so frequently if not always so easily. And I don’t blame them; it’s the fault of their humanness as far as I see it. We make shitty choices all the time for all sorts of effed up reasons, and it’s often really got little or nothing to do with the person we love so much. So how could I hold up Love as this ultimate savior and unflagging back-haver?
The diving in in spite of all that. The foolhardy throwing back of logic and sense for something untameable, uncontainable, something whose beauty and spark light up endless crystal candelabras of hope and joy within us, but that may be dimmed or extinguished or mercilessly shattered at any turn.
Please don’t mistake me. I think Love divine and do believe that its power and pull ultimately cannot be rivaled. It’s just that it can go so dreadfully “wrong” in too many ways for me to think I’d find something solid in the idea that it never fails. Yet in the use of those quotation marks lies the fertile seed of new truth in all this. If I believe that a successful love is one that endures, then any time it doesn’t, I see proof that love is flawed. But if instead I think about the feeling of love as it is present, without expectation of what it will become or how it will travel, I’m free to be present with that love, however it appears for me – for however long and in whatever form.
As I’ve so often heard my favorite wild soul woman Liz DiAlto say, “Love is always the appropriate response.” No matter what you’re struggling with, try looking at it from Love, or filtering it through Love. Rather than fearing it will make you seem weak, you may be surprised to feel an inexplicable solid strength in its place, a joyful calm and peace from which you can navigate the world.
Every time I do this, I’m awed by what follows. It’s not always easy. It often in fact gets messy as I skip into and out of old habits and ways of being. Consider this, a quote from Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of ‘A Course in Miracles’, that I read in a Facebook post earlier this month by Amy Javier: “Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we have learned here. The spiritual journey is the relinquishment – or unlearning – of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.”
For the past several weeks I’ve been struck and touched by so many beautiful thoughts on love. It feels like a sign of things to come. And so it is, as I continue to choose Love more and more, in ways that far exceed the bounds of romantic love, I feel the vibration in these words from Rumi:
“Close your eyes. Fall in love. Stay there.”