it is evening, so sweet, the last warmth of the day carries the scent of jasmine and roses and just a touch of woodsmoke over from the neighbor's. the boys are sleeping through my obsessive amp exploration. ( i got an amp last week! it has so many settings! yippee!) i have been writing love songs. i keep thinking about love.
this summer i was visiting a friend as she prepared a birthday present for her beloved. she had contacted all of the important people from his past, touchstones in the timeline of his life, and asked each of them to contribute a recipe. she then selected an ingredient from each recipe---corn, say, or onion---and used this ingredient to make the paper upon which she printed the recipe. then she assembled all of these beautiful handmade recipe papers into a sort of personalized memoir of a cookbook. amazing, right? genius. artistry. love.
i don't know if i can love like that. i have been questioning my ability to love, lately. i seem to put a lot of conditions on it. i seem to be rather locked up. and the gifts i give seem to be, mostly, for me: the men in my life are nearly always the i-don't-celebrate type and the things i supposedly do in their honor are really so that i can feel good.
xir, lately, has been begging to go to church with his friends, and so we spent the morning at a more evangelical place than i would normally feel comfortable attending. i listened to a heartfelt sermon about how, for christians, there is no more work to do, how all the work has been done. there is no checklist of things to do to be acceptable. all of that was accomplished on the cross, and all that remains is to live a life of what the minister called 'glory'.
i was thinking all day of a love like that. a love that required nothing, that accepted all, that found no fault, and wanted only for the beloved to find the fullest expression of his or her self. how we all long for that, and how rarely any of us provide it for anyone else. i mean really, what would it look like? it's not practical! we don't set up our lives to accommodate that sort of love! even for our children, there are so many conditions that must be met. even for our friends. when i look honestly into my heart, i know that none of my relationships are unconditional. i look for benefit in all of them. when the benefit ceases, the relationship ends.
i felt so much resistance listening to the minister this morning. it seemed way too easy. no code of conduct? no commandments to follow? no special exercises to do every morning? no dietary restrictions? buddha's last words were: 'strive without cease!' jesus's, apparently, translate roughly to 'paid in full!'
it's different. a different way to love. trusting someone to do what is best for them, to live according to their highest calling, instead of trying to get them to behave according to code. for one thing, i find it unlikely to succeed. maybe i am projecting, but try as i might, i find it hard to grasp that, given freedom from ethical and moral codes of conduct, a majority of humanity would aspire to anything besides rank individualism.
but there are so many ways to love...and i am always surprised. what do i know? it has been a wonderful day. despite an interminable-at-the-time meltdown from my youngest this afternoon, the rest of the day stretched long and golden. how little we need! everything in my life is up in the air: i may leave the state at any time. i am not sure what i want from myself, or the world, anymore. i am out of money. nearly every relationship i find myself in feels all-consuming and out of control. the hours i used to spend on laundry, housecleaning, garden maintenance, and mending are now unapologetically consumed by electric guitar practice. i feel crazy to myself. there is nothing solid in me to love!
and yet---i am loved. out of this chaos i continue to give love.
i keep learning. it amazes me, how little any of us ever actually need. so much of what i thought was necessary turns out to have been a crutch. ah well. learning to love. it was never going to be easy, was it?