Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sweet Love, Say...

Any human life situation is like
the momentary position of a kaleidoscope;
and the group of souls within that situation
are like the bits of brightly colored glass
which form an interesting pattern of relationship.
Then the kaleidoscope is shaken . . .
and with this flick of the wrist
there comes into being a new design,
a new combination of elements.
And so on, again and again,
time after time, always different . . .
always it is significant, and always
there is a dynamic and purposeful intention.
~Gina Cerminara, PhD
Many Lives, Many Loves

Naked. © 2007 by Melissa Johnson.
I’ve always been a lover. My first encounter came early. I was four years old and attending the Happy Hours Day Care Center when I met little Jimmy Patterson, a brown-eyed, brown-haired fellow with the biggest, sweetest smile and a knack for stealing kisses on the playground—often in exchange for use of his tricycle at recess.

I remember everything about that day, from the little blue dress I wore with matching lace socks and white sandals, to the excitement I felt as I let him kiss me on the playground. And later, when my tricycle sped out of control down the asphalt driveway and I landed in a heap of skinned knees, bloody toes and torn petticoats, he was there holding my hand as our teacher wiped away the blood and tears.

The next day, he placed four pastel-colored chocolates in my locker with a note that said, “I love you.” And though he didn’t sign his name to the gift, I knew it was from him. I was so excited! I went home that night and announced to my parents that I would one day marry Jimmy Patterson.

Then I met Christian, this cute little rug-rat who lived next door. We spent every free minute together—hanging from trees, riding our bikes and generally running round the neighborhood as a curious pair.

That fall, as a contestant in the Little Miss Pageant, I was interviewed by a local television station and when asked if there was anyone back home I wanted to say hello to, I raised my hand in a flirty wave and cooed, “Hi Christian . . . I love you!” I wanted the whole world to know.

By the time I reached the second grade, Christian was but a fading memory as Andy became my present. There was something about that boy—he made me weak in the knees—the way he smiled at me; the way he beat up Charlie Preston for writing on my light blue jacket with a black magic marker; the way he stood close to me in the lunch line and sometimes played with my hair from his desk behind me. He was my greatest champion, my best friend and my first real proposal of love.

Imagine my delight and surprise when Andy placed a lovely diamond ring on my finger at lunch one day—a ring that he had taken from the kitchen counter while his mother washed the breakfast dishes—and asked me to be his girlfriend. No one was more surprised than my mother, especially when I showed her the ring that night at dinner—secured to my finger with masking tape. And you can be sure that no one has ever experienced such heartbreak—oh the agony!—as what I endured when forced to give back the ring. 

Though it’s been more than 30 years since my first brush with romantic love, I’ve never forgotten that easy feeling. And while I didn’t actually marry any of my young suitors, with nostalgia I’ve carried their simple childhood love with me through life.

Love should be that easy, I’ve mused over the years frustrated with what more often seemed complicated than simple and easy.  Isn't it?  Yet how can it be easy, when Life demands so much more of us?

You’ve got to have something to eat
and a little love in your life
before you can hold still
for any damn body’s sermon on how to behave.
~Billie Holliday

Sure, we start out young and innocent enough, with our hearts and eyes wide open. Some of us have wonderful childhoods filled with loving memories. Others begin life with incredible challenges—violence, betrayal, abuse—that would harden the hearts of the greatest lovers among us. But no matter where we start, or the obstacles we face, we share at least one common denominator with the rest of humanity: We are at all times in relationship with everyone and everything around us.

Let’s face it, relationships are an integral part of our human experience, and I’m not just talking about the romantic kind. As we move through life, we engage in relationship at every turn: Lovers, friends, families, co-workers, our pets, nature—the world at large—all take part in this dynamic exchange. And so our challenge becomes one of moving through unique, yet similar, journeys of self-discovery and human understanding. In time, we learn that our relationships won’t save us from ourselves. Like babies, we must learn to self-soothe, making our own happiness rather than seeking it solely through our connections with others.

In this we’re presented with amazing opportunities to develop and nurture our most important relationship—the one we have with our Self. Sometimes we get it. Other times, the only thing we get is in our own way.

Consider this mind-body curiosity:
Our relationships exist primarily in our heads!
Sure, there are moments of physical connection
that we share with others,
but our perceptions, thoughts and feelings
about our experiences
take place on the inside.

Just so, love fuels our persistence.  And if we are brave—opening our hearts to the lessons behind our struggles—we learn some things. We learn that when we ignore our truth, we suffer. When we’re out of balance, we suffer. When we chase and grasp and cling so tightly, we suffer. When carelessly we give ourselves away, we suffer. When our thoughts control us like an angry master, we suffer. When we view life as a burden—playing the victim by giving away our choice—we suffer. When we resist the purpose and timing of our lives, or fight the changes that want to take us to the next level of ourselves, we suffer.

Then with our experience comes wisdom—and with wisdom, great responsibility. Eventually we get tired of the drama. We wake up. We understand that while our hearts may have broken, we’re not. We start making better choices—loving ourselves more; taking responsibility for our “stuff”—as we begin to see how often we have perpetuated our own misfortune by ignoring this simple truth:

What we do, how and with whom we do it,
will bring a definite energy and quality to our
experience, for better or for worse;
which begs the question—
are we living from love or fear?

When it comes to love, there’s always a risk—that we’ll get hurt, that we’ll be rejected, that our best friend or family member will disappoint us, that our beloved will leave us behind. But the only way that we'll ever fully open our hearts to the beauty of Life is by loving. It’s the energy that made us and, I believe, the only thing of value that we have to give.

This is the law of love.


Anonymous said...

Oh Melissa – what an incredible writer you are!!!   I so love to read it all! Thanks and have a very blessed day! Hugs~ Margaret

Anonymous said...

Yes, sigh... It's all true. Luther Vandross - I LOVED him so much. I ADORED his musical lyrics and saw him in concert several times, the last time in Time Square at Radio City Music Hall. I wrote him love letters, Melissa, to his home. I didn't send my letters with a return address. I just wanted him to know how much I loved him. He was this big gay black man with such an angelic voice and I didn't miss an interview that I could catch. Almost every single song he wrote was about love. He did not have a person of his own as far as I can tell, but when asked in an interview WHY did he write so much about love? He said, "Is there anything else?" He was just beautiful inside. When I heard he had a stroke, I was unconsolable for days. Love's relationship inside of me for him, he had for others - how else could he write like he did? Love is amazing. Christ reminded us, "but above all these (laws), LOVE ONE ANOTHER."

Melissa.... your first girlfriend ring was taken AWAY from you... that is just the saddest thing. It makes me feel crushed for your young self. That HAD to hurt. But HEY! It was an awfully impressive start! Real diamonds and everything!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :) xo ~J