Category: inspiration

relationships are non-linear

Relationships are everything. Connection is everything.

“I remember as a small child seeing the geese flying south. Firefly season. A cicada that lived for a while in the cracks of the cement bricks that made up our porch wall. A flash flood sweeping cars away while we were huddled under an overhang on a picnic. Lightning felling a tree in our backyard. I guess I learned that everything will pass.

But also, and equally true, it will all come back again.”

Karen Joy Fowler

Every week, S. and I have a call to talk about one thing, but we almost always begin with another. On Thursday, we began by discussing this incredible piece (The Crane Wife) in The Paris Review. There has been an undercurrent of thinking about the shapes we believe we have to take in order to invite love in; of how we make ourselves smaller, ask ourselves to need less in order to appear worthy of love.

The next day, I finished reading Deborah Levy’s The Cost of Living, in which the author reminds us: “To separate from love is to live a risk-free life. What’s the point of that sort of life?”

AK is always talking to me about maintaining my mountain pose, and he asks me if my stubborn patterns in building relationships (or stumbling on/upon them) feels to me like accidentally stepping to a different dance that I already know the steps to. Absolutely! I respond. You can always tell what someone’s home dance is, based on the habits their bodies hold onto as they learn a new one.

I take time to remind myself that almost nothing in life is linear. Not our outward portrayal of success, not our bodies and health, not love, not friendships, not the greenness of my four plants in the windowsill, not the rhythm and pace of sleep. We are who we are right now in order to become who we will be. Growth doesn’t always look or feel like growth, sometimes it’s underneath the soil, sometimes it’s within our leaves, sometimes all your leaves turn yellow and red and then brown, then drop to the ground in order for new life to grow again.

My sister and I grew in a womb together, and when I spend time with her I feel in awe at how little I know about her, and how much we have both changed. The way we regard (crave or don’t crave) touch from men, and the way we talk about love languages. She asked me to re-take the Myers Briggs test and we marveled at the disparity between us. But we still buy the same flavor of Pop Tarts.

In yoga class, J. implores us to love the transitions just as much, if not more, than arriving at the pose itself. S. and I contemplate water and earth. One shapes the other.

Brecht says: But love is like war; it always finds a way. Perhaps he originally said it the other way around, but still.

On a Tuesday, we are in Korea Town claiming that we’ll go in for “just one song.” JD, whom I am meeting for the first time, says that he never sings “just one song”- it’s either hours, or nothing at all. We get a room for 8 people and stay for 6 hours (I mean, Jia did it too), because it’s cathartic to sing with strangers you’ve just met alongside friends you’ve known for decades. I’ve always had the intuition when I meet someone: is this person for good, or for just now? Either way, karaoke has been a pretty good proxy. We accidentally sing from every Disney movie, shake it like a Polaroid picture, butcher Jay Chou songs, and twirl in the bouncing, ridiculous disco lights. The night deepens as B. serenades me with “Every Rose Has Its Thorns” while I am laughing, I am laughing so hard. “You’re so happy,” he croons, “why are you so happy?”

“I’m not, it’s just… it’s just all so true,” I gasp.

Afterwards, we put down the microphones and he two-steps slowly with me in a circle, in a hoop that never ends.

The quest for home

Krista Tippett in conversation with Junot Díaz, author of the novels Drown, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and This Is How You Lose Her (interview via the On Being podcast). I mention him previously here. Emphasis mine.

Ms. Tippett: Also, back to the matter of intimacy and love — I mean somewhere you’ve said that the quintessential American narrative is the quest for home and that — but that’s not just about shelter. It’s about intimacy. It’s about love. I mean are those — as you think about walking through this American moment and expansively, having a large view, a long view of time in this long-term project we’re in, how do you — is “love” a word that enters your imagination, that enters your conversations these days, and what can that mean?

Mr. Díaz: Well, of course. I mean what are we in this game, if not for love? I can’t speak to anyone else, but if you’re — if someone tells me there’s no love in the universe, I’m — well, what interest is there in the universe, then? What’s interesting about the universe? For me, perhaps overly simplistically or perhaps overly sentimentally, love matters. I do believe that human beings are, without question, social creatures. Our biology seems to dictate that.

But I would also say that there is a challenge, in being human, that we have vulnerable needs, but we also have minds that can deceive us that these needs are unimportant. And for many of us, to be able to trust somebody else, to be able to have faith that someone else or that the future or that the community can take care of us, that we will not be destroyed when we lower our defenses, for many of us, that’s a challenge. And yet, you can’t have any kind of love, whether we’re talking about civic love or we’re talking about interpersonal love, without first dropping those defenses, without first making yourself vulnerable.

I mean ultimately, when you look at it — you don’t want to be too simplistic, but the nature of having these chats is, you oversimplify — but when you think about it, look at the whole debate around climate change. The whole debate around climate change is a bunch of lying fools sitting around, almost all male, but whatever — a bunch of lying fools saying, “The earth is not vulnerable. There is no injury.” And there’s just a repetition here; there’s this mantra that comes out of these hegemonies, which is: “We are invulnerable. We’re not vulnerable. There is no loss. We don’t need to change anything” that just is — it’s just destroying us, man. And it’s so dull and wearying, and yet, we’re all caught up in this madness, simply because of our pride, our inability to be like, “Hey, man, that hurts. Hey, man, that’s scary. Hey, sister, that’s humiliating.”

As Krista mentions in the interview: How refreshing that here is a Dominican man talking about vulnerability and love.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what home means to different people. How much the word is defined by how you grew up, what you yearn for, and the ways in which you have been hurt. What types of intimacy create safe space. What types of intimacy should be reserved and which should be freely given to all.

Also relevant: I have noticed a big difference when someone has the ability to look at me (as the earth in Junot’s example) and face the damage instead of denying it: “Yes, there is injury here, so how do we fix it now? Let’s fix it together.”

more on hope

Resignation and cynicism are easier, more self-soothing postures that do not require the raw vulnerability and tragic risk of hope. To choose hope is to step firmly forward into the howling wind, baring one’s chest to the elements, knowing that, in time, the storm will pass.

 

― Desmond Tutu