Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Love > fear

On my way to work today, I saw a bumper sticker that said simply, "Love > fear". I smiled at that, and then immediately yelped as a car cut me off (thank youuu Austin drivers). My safety assured, I went back to contemplating that sticker. Love is greater than fear. Ah, but fear is so good at getting in the way of things, making otherwise strong dispositions wither with doubt and insecurity. When it comes to loving anyone, be it family or friends or strangers, fear so easily dilutes the strength of our most basic call: to love one another.

Why do we have fear with love? I feel like that answer can take up an entire blog series: the unknown, the possibility of pain, unrequited feelings, helplessness, anxiety... it goes on and on. Our brains are pretty good at searching for fear and threats; we do it automatically. Sometimes this is good because it means you jump out of the way of a speeding car or run from a hungry lion. Sometimes this response is bad, because in less obvious forms of danger (aka vulnerability), we run away from something that we should be running towards. I'm finding in my life right now, that the more you run from something the more you train yourself that it's dangerous, and therefore worth running from. If we run from love because we fear it's too hard/anxiety provoking/whatever, it just increases the likelihood that we'll keep running. But if we do the opposite, and approach the fear instead, we find that what we thought was a big scary monster, is really nothing but a shadow.

And even if the fear doesn't decrease right away, then maybe we can hope that eventually the love will shine light into those dark corners filled with our worries and doubts.

Love > fear... If only we could truly love each other freely and fully, accepting fear as it is, and loving beyond its lies and limitations. After all, fear is just a feeling, stagnant and transient. But love... love is a choice, an action, something that moves and lives and breathes. So maybe the answer is not to love without fear, but to love despite it.

Seems so easy to write about. Putting it into action seems about as easy as getting over my fear of squirrels (you can't tell me they don't purposely stop in front of speeding cars... crazy demon rodents) and the ocean (um, endless dark abyss filled with flesh-eating sea creatures? Scary!). So yeah, not easy, but probably worth it.

Here's some C.S. Lewis awesomeness to close:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable." - C.S. Lewis

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The things that stay behind.

[Originally written in 2007... felt like busting out more old emo pieces to match the weather and my new blue-ish hair.]

The things that stay behind are not real things. They’re not tokens, photos, or old concert tickets. They’re not forgotten shirts or crumpled notes. They’re nothing that you can hold in your hands or put away in a box.

The things that stay behind were born of him and the feelings and happenings that came with him. He left them to me when he walked away. They trailed behind him and stopped at the door. He shook his head and they dropped off, discarded as if he were merely shaking the rain out of his black hair.

He is gone, and so are the tangible things. The things I could roll between my fingers (the cool metal of his cross necklace), the things I could smell (the comforting scent of his favorite t-shirt), the things I could see (the look of his hand in mine), and the things I could hear (the ringing of his laugh against the walls).

In their place are things that I can’t see, touch, smell or hear. But I can feel them. The memories and emotions float about my head, softly now. Back when the door clicked shut for the first time, they assaulted me until I was blind to them. Now they’ve lessened and so have I.

Sometimes I think that we never really existed. Maybe we didn’t. The memories feel more like dreams: vague tendrils of words and images that swirl in a complicated mess of grief, leaving me in confusion as I wake in the cloudy haze of morning.

He's gone, and it's time for me to go, too. Move back to where I came from. When I leave, letting go of him, of us, I will not lock the memories away. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. They can’t be contained. But they have such strong roots here, I don’t believe they will follow me far either. That is the hope.

Still, I can’t control them; I know they will be back. Like long lost relatives, they will spring to me out of nowhere. They will be accommodated, but I will be uncomfortable. I will wait patiently and eventually they will leave, only to visit less and less as time wears on.

This is letting go.