If you ever find yourself stuck in the middle of the sea,
I’ll sail the world to find you
If you ever find yourself lost in the dark and you can’t see,
I’ll be the light to guide you
The mind is an interesting place at 5am on a Monday morning. By interesting I mean slow and somewhat dysfunctional. Then there are those moments of clarity in which everything seems to fall into place and the stars align.
Mind you, I don’t have a ton of the latter…normally I ride the bus of struggle in the early am hours. Actually, let’s be honest here- I DRIVE the freaking bus most days.
Today’s clarity was aided by a Sunday spent in the woods on top of a mountain, a Bruno Mars song, and a tiny little book about dogs. Random but true-
Nothing is more cleansing to the mind and spirit than spending some QT with Mother Nature. If you know me, you know my thoughts on religion and how judgmental I find people to be about how one chooses to practice their beliefs. I am not that girl. I find that everyone connects to their higher power in a different way-who am I to tell them they are doing it incorrectly?? Who is anyone to do that?
I feel closest to my higher power when I am surrounded by structures too intricate yet simple to be created by the hands of man- giant pines (or “rich pine!” as Aidan calls them when he pulls off some bark and shoves it into your nostril while you are trying to relax in your hammock), stones of granite, infinite sky, etc…those are my church. My temple. My place of solitude. I find more answers in nature than I ever have inside four walls.
Do I feel just as fulfilled by those entities as many do a church service? You bet. Will some people say that’s silly? Likely, but at this point in my life I am far more concerned with how I FEEL and far less concerned with what others SAY.
Anyhoo, I feel refreshed today and upon checking my email I see the subject line, “What is Love?” It was an email for a Valentine’s board at work. It asked you to write on a tiny two inch heart what love means to you personally…
1) I write larger than most four year olds so this isn’t going to work for me. Wide-ruled paper was always my BFF in school.
2) What was my answer to the question? How can I put this into words that will fit on an itty bitty construction paper heart????
3) I am not the biggest fan of traditional V-Day hoopla but I read this as a larger question about life.
I thought about this for a few minutes-remember it’s 5:00am…I have no coffee at this point…thoughts pour slowly like cold honey that early in the morning. After some sleepy pondering, I decided to keep it simple:
Love is showing up for people in your life.
Such a small sentence but man does it pack a punch! What do I mean by “showing up”?
Well, when I look at my life, the people who are always closest to my heart are the people who have always shown up for me-through good times as well as bad. They are my super glue-the people who stick no matter how difficult the situation or how far the distance. They are the folks who keep it real with me when I need a good dose of reality. Who give me a good kick in the ass when I am not feeling motivated. Who feel my successes and failures almost as deeply as I feel them. They have shown up for me even when I didn’t show up for myself.
Do we all fall short sometimes? Abso-freaking-lutely. I haven’t always shown up when I should have for the people I love most. I have been selfish and unconcerned at times in my life-we all have. It’s part of being human…perfectly imperfect and flawed.
The silver lining here?
We have all been there. We all have moments in which we fail the people closest to us. How do we recover? We pick ourselves up when we fail and commit to doing better next time. We care enough to admit we sucked at love for a bit but we are going to get back on the damn horse or die trying.
I am grateful to have a plethora of loves in my life. Side note-am I the only person on earth who immediately thinks of the movie ‘The Three Amigos’ when I hear the word “plethora”??? Probably-thanking my childhood for that one.
I am an eclectic person and appropriately so is my “inner circle”.
To me, appreciating differences in each other is all part of what makes showing up for each other so much fun. Love isn’t a one size fits most or all kind of thing-the people in your life should never have to fit into a category to earn your love. You shouldn’t want them to. The different perspectives they bring to your life are more precious than gold.
While thinking about love and it’s multitude of interpretations, I decided to clean up my desk. Organizing things often also helps me organize my thoughts-scattered as they may be. While cleaning, I found a book given to me by a love interest well over a decade ago.
Yes, that makes me feel really old. 12 or 13 years ago feels like eons yet just yesterday at the same time.
The book itself was simple enough-a book about dogs with an inscription about how this book might lend some perspective and help me become more of a dog person. At that time, I was 100% a cat kinda girl. There were pages marked and little adages/notes throughout to heighten my “love of dogs” experience. Things really do change-I now own a dog (truth be told he owns me) that is by my side 24/7 and I can’t imagine life without. He is actually one of the great loves of my life. 43 pounds of crooked legged, dinosaur footed, crusty-nosed love that I would not trade for any material possession in the world. He is the epitome of unconditional love in furry form.
That little book tied it all together for me. This person hasn’t been a love interest in many years, but I have kept that book close all this time. It has survived numerous “Spring Cleaning” extravaganzas, desk moves, re-organization sessions, etc…why did it and a few other little notes and keepsakes make the cut where so many others met their untimely end at the recycling bin???
Because real connections we have with people in life are not fleeting.
These connections each shape our lives in some way and resonate with us even when they aren’t visible in our day to day living. The people, adventures and memories we treasure are what life is really all about. The little mementos we tuck away for safekeeping? Those are connections to memories we want to keep close because they have changed us. They are part of our growth as a person and will always remind us of good times with people that mean something to us.
At face value, the book is like many others you could pick up at Hallmark anytime. To me, it is a time machine of sorts. It takes me back to a very specific time in my life and conjures memories that I will always hold close to my heart.
At the end of the day, those connections to people and adventures we share are what we live for. They enrich us in many ways and bring meaning to what could be a pretty solitary existence.
Instead of falling victim to the media/marketing garbage that Valentine’s Day has become, take a minute out of your day to let the people who make your life a little better know that you are thinking of them. They will remember a little note or a word of appreciation far longer than a dozen roses or a heart full of chocolate. Valentines are not always significant others-they are the people who always try to show up for you-even when it’s not convenient. Even when they fall short sometimes.
When I look back at my life one day, I want to have a whole bunch of those little mementos and memories tucked away. That means I spent a lifetime connecting with people in some real way that helped shape me and make me a better person.
I know some people like to keep everyone and everything at arms’ length because it’s easier that way. No real attachments = no pain and no time wasted. While that may be true, they miss out on the best parts of life as well. To me, love is showing up for people even when pain may be the result because the benefits outweigh the risk. It always reminds me of a quote I love from the Velveteen Rabbit:
“Weeks passed and the little rabbit grew very old and shabby, but the Boy loved him just as much. He loved him so hard that that he loved all his whiskers off, and the pink lining to his ears turned gray, and his brown spots faded. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit anymore, except to the Boy. To him, he was always beautiful, and that was all the little rabbit cared about.”
At the end of the day, things do not matter. Tasks and to-do lists do not matter. The way we treat the people in our lives, the connections we build to others, the memories we look back on and smile-those are the things that hold real value and will make us complete. Always make time for those people in your life and ensure you have more than “things” to show for your time here on earth.
A special” thank you” to all of my Valentines who show up for me daily-even when I am a butthole and make it difficult. Even when I am nauseatingly chipper and refuse to stop whistling or when I have annoying songs stuck in my head that I sing out loud until you contemplate homicide. I love each of you more than I can ever express with written words and am grateful for each of you and what you bring to my life. ❤