Big Love/Big Pain

"Cause when I look around
I think this, this is good enough
And I try to laugh
At whatever life brings
Cause when I look down
I just miss all the good stuff
When I look up
I just trip over things." Ani Difranco

Yes, I'm here to write about the heart again.

Yes, there are things going on in the world that need commentary.

But writing about the human heart is also a radical act.

And I still believe that the best thing we can do for the world is become fully human, fully awake, emotionally responsible and intelligent in a way that cares deeply, and is also capable of letting go. I mean, if I'm not working through my shit, how the hell am I going to show up for others? I love showing up for others. I'm setting the groundwork for a life that takes care of myself and simultaneously encourages others. A life about service, education, art, and love that is simple, big and free. A life that's about holding others up to the light, myself included. 

I last wrote about water.

About the body. My body.

My body of water.

How I'd become something dry and brittle and afraid of her thirst. (Funny, I left the water for the desert. This warrants some thought.)

How becoming was a very very fluid letting go and also something firm like the ocean as she is if we see her from afar--an entity with power and domination, vulnerability, movement, and calm.

And since I wrote about what it felt like to be in a liquid becoming, I've felt more alive, more me, more FULL than I've ever felt in my life. 

And in this fullness, I've fallen in love. With another woman. With myself, with my friends, with my own desire and hunger again.

Not again. Anew. 

And in this becoming and falling in love I've also felt more heartbreak than ever before. More heartbreak than I was feeling even as I drove away from the home I thought was mine and wasn't. The love I thought was love but wasn't. 

What does this mean? To be both full of love and ready to be so fucking ME. And at the same time, to feel more tender, more afraid, and at times more blue than I've ever felt before? 

Doesn't it mean there's still an opening here? Isn't there always? A constant voice reminding me: go through. Dive deep. Take off your clothes your armor your defense mechanisms your skin your fear of loss your resistance and drench yourself in this. Become wet. Become water. Trust. 

These moments of depth for me are always a bit melancholy. Those of you that know me well know this. Some of you have tried to keep me from my melancholy, to protect me, because you love. I love you. But something is happening as I spend my days getting to know someone new who sees me and holds me but also asks me to accept this and allow trust to just flow. Someone who lets me love her and doesn't recoil. Who watches me recoil and sob because I'm still in the broken-openness of what just happened. Who witnesses my what-ifs and my spinning out and my tears and tells me it's good. That I'm good. That she's there. I see you, she says. Let me see you.

Didn't I ask for this?

I did. I did in a way that witches do. The way women use their power and always have. So I can't stop now. I asked for the kind of love that is also work. That is vulnerable and shifts, shows up. Is kind when it's not perfect. Perhaps this is just another thing that will take patience. Another process, like art. And home.

And as usual, I'm impatient. I want it all right now. I want to know to have to see to have assurance to grip to hold to be told it will never change.

And of course, that's not water. That's not life-giving. Water knows, this earth knows, life knows that we don't get to know.

AND. If we want a full life, we still have to go all in. We have to love anyway. We have to find ways to be Love even when it hurts or we've been hurt or everything about the body screams RUN IT'S TOO HARD YOU DON'T DESERVE THIS. Water doesn't run. It shifts and molds and moves into the space it is given. It is destruction and it is peace. It is dark and blue and deep and mysterious. And it lets you in.

But oh let me tell you, this kind of love is going to hurt. And I don't just mean in this one relationship. But the kind of love I've asked for. The kind of love poetry is. The love that death is, that loss is, that desire chafes up against. And let me say that loving so close to heartbreak is a ship to sea without a sail. Every day I must forgive myself for all that leaks. And hope that I keep loving myself, first, no matter what's in front of me. Every day I keep floating even though I can't see the shore. 

Every day I say I'm not afraid of this and also oh fuck I'm so afraid of this. 


Today I talked to S during her last day at her writing conference and we did what we do when we both have so much to say and express. We said "Hi, how are you?" and immediately began discussing the heart, and our hearts, what we're yearning for learning into thinking about letting go of making art for. And I said something like, "Fuck, S. What if this is the real spiritual path? What if to love hard and deeply and to really commit ourselves to the human experience we have is to feel Love AND Grief side-by-side, forever? What if we can't have one at its essence without the other?"

And she did what she usually does when I'm like this: she cut right to it. "There is no what if. It's just both. All that worry and gripping so fucking tightly," she said in her fierce way, "only keeps us in suffering."

Or something like that. But I heard her. All we share is how deeply we feel and hurt and yearn. And oh how much I want to keep being me, which includes all of these sparkly darknesses, but oh how I long to let go a little. To go with the fucking flow, as they say. To love and let go in a way that is soft and still warm and still present and authentic and in relationship. 


And then I stopped by R's apartment on the way to a meeting. I was dropping off a suitcase for her to borrow, and there she was, my strong friend who gets shit done and moves on with a kind of strength I've never seen in others, in a puddle of tears on the floor. I've never seen her that way, even though 5 long months ago she saw me that way every day when she rescued me from a life my body can barely remember.

Today she was all water, too. She'd given herself fully to a beautiful man, fully to love, to someone who saw her the way I've wanted her to be seen for so long. The way I see her. And he, lovingly, with such grace, told her he wasn't ready for that kind of love yet. And she thanked him in her grief. She stayed open. And then he was gone. So I held her as she cried and I also cried and I thought this is what life isThese are the risks we have to take. Because she looked at me in her tears and heaves and smiled. She didn't regret a thing. She only felt love for him, and it was the most pain she'd ever felt in her life.


Because it is BOTH. To be whole means we have to be willing to witness the shifts and dualities. We have to be willing to give ourselves to each other even though we have no guarantees. This is something I thought I was working through with T, but I was really just holding on. I don't want to hold on anymore. I want to let go.

I want to trust and feel love that is also loss. Not just in relationship, though I do think relationship is our greatest teacher. I think in relationship(s) all our crap rises to the surface and we have to just bow in grace to the goddesses of our inner worlds. We are who we are. And we can change, but it has to be both. It has to be full of love and the pain love carries. It has to be a risk that is grounded in body. It has to be gentle and a goddamn feminist warrior who keeps going despite it all. Who can detach from outcome and expectation in a way that still says, I'm all in. I'm here. I want to show up. Witness me as I am, and I'll witness you where you are, and in that we'll see what beauty really is


Because beauty is more. It is so much more.

Beauty is keep going.

It's be okay no matter what. 

It's ask for what you want and accept the hell out of it when it shows up. 

It's forgive yourself if you fuck it all up. 

It's the light surrounded by the shadow. 

It's this whole story, illuminated.

It's stay in your own body, its needs, its desires, its deep ground, first. Then show up whole for those that matter. 

It's everyone matters. 

It's look forward. Not at the spilled cups beside you, but at the full ones right in front of you. Not at the smoke in the mirror, but what's beyond the mirror. Around it. Everything else but the what ifs and the lessons behind you. Just forward.