Love and Velcro and Forgetting
I throw around the word love a lot. I love this. I love that. I love you. I threw the word love on my wrist in a slanted tattoo.
In my last blog post, I wrote a meditation and, again, I threw around the word love like I owned it, like it was an obvious thing with no need of definition, like air or blood. But then I got this gorgeous note from a reader:
…you lost me with the idea that the word ‘love’ can be used to describe an emotional state that we, you and your readers, share a clear, semantically simple understanding of. We use language to communicate. And when it’s done well, the writer manages to create meaning that her readers immediately grasp. Am reading Sally Rooney’s novel, Normal People, right now and when she writes, “The sky is a thrilling chlorine-blue, stretched taut and featureless like silk.”... the reader has a shared understanding of both the physical world that’s above the writer’s characters and the emotional frame that is to come. Taut and featureless and thrilling (much drama ensues in the following sentences.)
However, I don’t know what you mean by, ‘Rocking myself to love’ or ‘... the endless opening to love’. Which bums me out because I want to go on the journey with you as the writer. And your destination sounds like you’re excited about it. But I can’t come along because I really don’t know what you mean when you use the word love.
My initial reaction was, Duh. Love is love, but then tried to picture it and realized I was talking shit because what first came to mind was nothing. If someone had vacuumed out my brain that was what I saw: the after vacuumed space. I thought of my daughter, but I didn’t have an emotion attached to the picture. I was so outside of my body imagining her. I imagined blue sky, ocean, flying birds, but it was like that moment when you first take communion and you’re so excited that the priest is putting food in your mouth until you realize the wafer tastes like nothing, like a wafer a priest just put in your mouth, not like the cookie your mother offered you the day before.
I had a spiraling feeling of the center will not hold. What if all this time I’d been writing about love, practically preaching about it, I didn’t even know what it was? What if love is part of life’s journey I have yet to discover?
My brain wants to step in and tell you something because, it argues, I am not heartless: I love my daughter. I love my family, my friends, my new Adidas sneakers. I love the movie The Piano. I love Florence, Boston, Santa Cruz, New York. Hell, I even love Texas.
I write these things and I hear the sound of the words, but I don’t feel anything in my heart. This frightens and embarrasses me. How can you write about your daughter and not feel the wild stir of your heart? Am I made of stone?
What is love anyway? An intense feeling of deep affection. A great interest and pleasure in something. As a verb it means to feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone). No wonder some adopted people are attracted to or have sex with their birth parents when they find them. The word love is so slippery! At one moment you’re feeling great affection for something, and the next you’re feeling sexual attachment. A long time ago I met a man who had made love to a tree.
Hold on. Made love? So you can feel love. You can love. And then you can make love. Can you make love if you don’t feel love? If two people who like each other make love, does that mean then afterwards there are two likes and a love in the room?
A synonym for love is attachment. Attachment disorder is when the stick of you has lessened, and you are less able to attach to others. It’s when your Velcro loops are partly or largely worn away and so you stay one-sided because another side can’t grab hold. It’s a reason I’m single. Taking a baby away from its mother at birth (or, okay, any time) is tricky business. It is this first bond that teaches us to attach, teaches us, logic follows, to love.
This kind of logic pains me. What if I missed the fundamental lesson on love? What if I am like a house built without a foundation?
Je refuse. I refuse to feel shitty about this and believe this is possible because I have one run at this life, and I want my gravestone to read That was amazing.
Maybe I’m approaching the subject all wrong. Maybe I’m ignoring the simple fact that you can breath and not even be aware that you are breathing. It’s just part of being alive whether you know you are doing it or not.
Maybe love is personal. Maybe it’s not like a color where people agree that blue is blue and red is red. Maybe love is like god: a concept outside of language, an idea that is too big for our brains to define. Maybe, just as many people argue we are god, maybe we are love, we are the breath we don’t even notice we are taking.
Maybe what love looks like is the experience of being alive. Even at war, we are love. Even when we are living on the streets and sitting on a wet piece of cardboard, we are love.
I believe this is true, and here’s why: when I am in my body, really in it, not thinking about the past or the future, just feeling my body walking down the street, noticing what is around me as if it were all a part of me, if a homeless person asks me for a dollar and I have it, I will 100% give it to that person. Why? Because she asked for it. Because she is a human and I am a human and that means we’re are a blur. That dollar is already hers. It just happens to be in my pocket. She is love, I am love. I think this is why I avoid looking so many homeless people in the eye when they ask me for money. My body, the love that is me, knows I am hurting myself, and I can’t bear to see the damage. If I do look the person in the eye and have the hubris to say, I’m sorry, which is complete bullshit because if I really were sorry I’d go get a dollar or ten or fifty. I am fake when I say I am sorry. I can do it. I can be fake, and I can think, He should get a job. I worked hard for my dollars, but this feels like story to my guts. My guts want me to go back and share.
That to me, seems like love. The waking up to that the dollar in my pocket is in your pocket.
I could have worked myself into a frenzy thinking about how separated I was from love, but I think that would have been like the fish in the ocean mourning the fact he’d never know what water was. He’s water. He’s in water. His brain is just playing games with him, doing a little psycho Candy Crush let’s make you feel shitty about yourself just because we can kind of game.
Now I remember what I was feeling when I wrote the blog post the reader asked me about: you can’t find love because it’s you. So when I say “rocking yourself to love” I mean rocking yourself to the memory that you are love. When I say “the endless opening to love” I mean that thing that happens when you let your guard down and you become a boundless tunnel of sensation, and there is no separation between you and the other. That was what happened the first time I saw my daughter: I opened and dropped my defenses as awe took over and led me back home to the state of love.
Love is what I feel when my brain isn’t telling me I am separate.
Now I remember.
Peek a boo! Here I am.