How Deep is Your Love?

It seems clear to me that Miss Elizabeth, the hyphenated poetess wonder, before being hyphenated was  fashionable, wrote exactly what she meant when she was counting the ways, “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach,” I mean, she’s quite succinct and concise yes?  She did not seem to be at all uncertain, she rather simply defines her feelings.  There are some people who truly, madly, and deeply believe in the concept of & the word –love–  and some who believe it does not “exist” or is not “real”  because it cannot be clearly defined, and most of us I think  fall somewhere in between.  Any of us who are mothers know that there is an extreme unconditional emotion we have and we feel towards our children and feelings that we, more often than not, can’t possibly put into words.  However, any of us who have been in ‘relationship love’ more than once know that those types of romantic feelings and emotions do indeed have conditions, and come and go over time, place, or circumstance.  We never stop loving a child yet we can stop loving, surprisingly easily I have found, a romantic partner…and I wonder why or how that is?

When we are newly in love it sure feels intense and like it could never ever end, yet it frequently does, more often than not actually. The intensity with which we love a child, from the moment it is removed from our body or handed over to us, feels intense and like it could never ever end, and it doesn’t, ever.  Why?  Is it deeper?  Somehow more valid?  What makes us able to love deeply and unconditionally and for absolutely EVER, our children, but not other people?

In my past I’ve been told the words -I love you- and then realized not as deeply as the love for an 8-ball, or not as deeply as the rush of sneaking around behind my back with a girl who worked at a Dunkin Donuts counter…well you get it…I’ve been told the words by a few men who turned out to be wrong for me for all the right reasons.  I’ve had two break ups in my life that made me feel devastatingly crushed and wondering how my heart would ever heal, and yet it did and always does; rather remarkably one day you wake up, and suddenly you’re “over it,”  like a cold or the flu.  I’ve also had a couple of break ups that made me feel like the weight of a tractor-trailer had been lifted off my chest or that made me feel relieved and revived as if I were in a perpetual Calgon ‘take me away’ kind of bath…ones that perhaps were not so deep at all…

I’ve never, in these 28 years, found myself comparing romantic love to the love I feel for my child, it’s totally NOT the same.  The love that I have for my daughter and now her daughters is impossible for me to describe or define, but that does not make me think it is not real, it does however make me think it is BIGGER than words and BRIGHTER than the sun and DEEPER than the Mariana Trench.  I have said the words, ‘this is not working for me’ to several men and ended a relationship, yet no matter the ups, downs, difficulties, or hardships of raising a child to adulthood, I never said nor thought ‘this is not working for me’ regarding my daughter because as a mother you just keep going, keep sorting things out, it just goes on and on because you do not ever give up on your child…it may not be “working” at the moment, but you know and believe it will all sort itself out.  Maybe that could be the secret to romantic love, loving deeply and purely enough that you decide not to give up, and believing that no matter what, it will all sort itself out.

First Do No Harm

There are consequences to everything we do & say.  It is very easy to act and react in a narcissistic way, it is often much more difficult to act and react in a selfless way, or at least in a way that puts the ego aside, even just temporarily.  And I don’t mean we should put ourselves last; our needs and wants and feelings are just as valid as the next person’s, but I do mean that we should, I think, first do no harm, then do whatever is next…maybe what is next IS narcissistic, but if we first determined that is the best way to act, so be it, and maybe what is next IS a bit self-serving, but if we have given some thought to the issue at hand, and decided it is the way to act, well, there it is.  I feel like I have seen this winter, and to be sure it’s been a bleak/gray/cold/awful season, a lot of unkindness.  MEAN PEOPLE SUCK.  It’s true.  Mean people are purposefully unkind.  I want people to be nicer to each other.  I want people to think about what they are saying and what they are doing and try, if at all possible, to be kind.  Is it ridiculously immature and naive to want the world, or at least my world, to be a nicer, kinder, happier place to live???

I often read stories in magazines about husbands and wives who cheat and lie, I see stories on television about boyfriends and parents who abuse and fight…we all are subject to this modern world of over stimulation from the media, and we keep buying the magazines and we keep paying our cable bills, so we want to STOP knowing bad shit, but we keep looking for it…is it to compare?  “Oh, look, things could be so much worse,” we might think as we turn the pages or the channels…I saw a video on the internet the other day, a young woman, obviously a junkie, nodding off while sitting on the aisle seat of a city bus, and her little girl across the aisle in a hot pink coat saying, “mom, they can’t get by,” and her little hand on the mother’s forehead, pushing her up…the video made me feel nauseated frankly; one that somebody video taped this rather than called the police so someone could rescue this little girl, and two, that somebody who is a mother would care so much more about herself than her child.  Seeing the video made me feel disgusted in many ways and now days later it is an image that I can’t un-see, like a scene in a horror movie when sadly you did not cover your eyes fast enough, it’s just there in my brain popping up at random times and making me feel unsettled.  Any of those behaviors that scream, “I care more about myself than I care about you” make me wonder why…why get married if you think monogamy is not for you?  why have a child if you think it’s going to be too expensive or too much work to raise it?  why work a job that you hate that makes you come home and beat your wife or kick your dog?  why become a wife or father if what you really want is to live on the floor of a dirty row house and take drugs?  Are we TRYING to do the “right” thing and failing, or are some of us too focused on trying to play a part that we think we are “supposed” to play when the role is totally wrong for us?  …and then when we find ourselves stuck in that role, we are mean, we act out, we behave in a way that hurts those who love us, because we were not true to our true selves to begin with?  It’s rather complicated isn’t it?

Cheating, lying, fighting, abusing, drug addiction, all of it is a choice, and all of those choices generally hurt somebody who loves or cares for the person who has made the choice.  We learn from Buddha that “Every morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.”  If you screw up on Monday you have Tuesday to do better, if Friday night you lied, you can apologize on Saturday.  Nobody is going to be PERFECT, nobody is going to DO THE RIGHT THING EVERY TIME, it would be impossible, unless you were Buddha…we all make mistakes and we all sometimes are unkind, sometimes even mean or cruel…some acts purposefully hurt others and some acts cause hurts to others even if it was not our intent…I want people to get along, I want people to be loving to each other, I want people to be kind & friendly…yeah, I know, hippy-dippy incense burning, flowers in your hair, hand-holding silliness is what some of you think…but I think I LIKE thinking about how what I do, or what I say, will make somebody feel, and acting or speaking in a way that shows that I may not always be loving, and I may not always be nice, but I will first do no harm…

Report Cards

Remember when we were little, before our school grades went to A’s and 4.0 GPA’s and instead we had the occasional “I” for Needs Improvement?  I hated an -‘I’- as a kid, because it meant that I tried to do something and did not do it as well as those who got the “E” for Excellent.  Something in me is changing, not just my hormones and not just my sleep patterns, I mean something deeply within my being  is happening,  partly through my effort and partly just like this miraculous metamorphosis that I’ve no control over…I feel silly writing that it could be these books I am reading, but honestly I kind of think it IS due, at least in part, TO these three books I am reading.

Buddhist Book Camp,  F**K It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way,  and The Freedom of Being: At Ease With What Is    two of which I purchased, and one was a gift, and all three are being read simultaneously and all three have tweaked my thought process enough to start this indescribable change I am feeling.  Several aspects of my life have always gone swimmingly and several aspects of my life have frequently been not so good, and all-in-all there have been times where I admit that segments of my life have Needed Improvement, but I am coming to “learn” that they are just PARTS of my world, NOT MY WORLD…I guess I am achieving a level of understanding of the difference.  When I feel sad or frustrated I am  “getting it” that I am sad or frustrated about a particular event or personal issue, not LIFE…when I feel anger I am now starting to understand that I am having a sensation of angry feelings about an incident or a person but am not an angry person…it’s a lot of hippy-dippy words and thoughts on these pages  but they are making perfect sense to me.

With each paragraph I seem to better recognize that portions of my life and my world are excellent, and so few actually need improvement!!  How some stranger’s perspective on paper can help me see so clearly what was fuzzy for so long is a mystery…also, why I needed to read some other way of seeing the world and could not seem to GET THERE on my own perplexes me, but I guess it does not matter how or why only that I am seeing things differently…What an amazing discovery, to get to be THIS old and finally see the light!!  It’s not so bad, it’s actually pretty terrific even when bits and pieces are kind of sucky!!…like a clementine, one dry segment does not make a bad piece of fruit!  It’s still so juicy and delicious, it’s just that there was a sliver of bad…not a whole orb of awful.

There are people I know and people I love, myself included,  going through rough patches every day; work, family, financial, relationships, whatever…there might be an “I” on a report card for an area that indeed needs improvement that is otherwise filled with “E’s” for Excellent.  Each night I feel like I want to look at the day and make note of where I got an E and where I got an I and then I can try to make the next day better…Since I don’t know if I believe in “heaven” I don’t know if there is a chance I’ll ever get a final grade of life.  I think for now I just want to keep on reading these books and finding better ways to SEE the world and how I live in it, we all  just have to keep on improving where we can and  being grateful for the ‘excellents,’  and keep on living…alright, alright, alright…