The kind of love—is when I’m roaming and ranting about one thing or another and he wraps me up in his arms and says, “settle down here with me for a minute.” “Should I?” I ask unsure if its ever right or safe to settle in to comfort or ease, “Yes, just for a bit” he says as if knowing my fear of being calm for too long, without an opinion or position. If one lacks confidence or sureness it’s suicide. The only salvation for a hard scrabble kid is confidence and somehow that becomes charm which eventually leads to leadership–the kind even I believe in when there is no basis for it- yet its evidence exists.
Hard is hard but for those of us with a myriad of seen and unseen birth defects and childhood traumas there is a new level of hard–the kind which requires faking it until you make it. I met a young man today so intent on selling me his solid future I would have signed a form and paid a monthly fee if it would put him at ease.
We are all, often, selling something. The ones who appear not to be are the slickest among us..those who make it look like you couldn’t buy what they have even with large sums have just perfected the craft. They are the cool cucumbers who appear to be off to the side not so much selling as buying. But ultimately it’s all just a defense. We all hope to be seen, believed and loved. We all hope it could be real.
I tell the hard working young man, “Be yourself, stay nice even if it’s hard and tenaciously stick to what’s true for you–it’ll work out.” I have no idea if that’s true, but I do think so. I’ve navigated that path and am content with it. It’s not bump free but I am still the owner of a soul, slightly dinged and well used but in tact. That’s more than I can say for many my age who seem to wonder, still, what it’s all about.
What’s it all about? I don’t know. You tell me.
If it’s about love to you then that’s it. Be in entire devotion to that. That doesn’t mean do it when you get your way. It means if you love, then you love, whether that person loves you back, whether you spend all your money, whether your friends think you’re foolish–love anyway. Love the guy next door and the kid who is obnoxious on his skateboard and the girl who dresses in a way in which you don’t approve. Love is not a half measure. If you’re going to declare that love is what you’re about then don’t be a baby about it–do it and be brave hearted. Love like you said you would and never back down. If it’s not returned, it’s fine. Don’t bother people, but love them anyway. No one can make your thoughts or feelings wrong–only you. Love does not do harm. If you love without harm, if you get that love has nothing to do with you and that it only means loving someone so much you wish their good only–well then you get it–so do it.
If you’re about “safety” then you’re sort of a sissy so it’s hard for me to relate. People who want to be “safe” are making up stuff to be afraid of or they are so impressionable they believe the latest news release from the cops or the security company selling half ass shit or politicians who try to proclaim if you don’t vote for them you’re not safe. Here’s the facts: If you live in a country where you literally cannot starve to death without making a big effort, where people are dying to give you shelter, where you may be “poor” by western standards which still includes flush toilets, hot water and a car–your only fear is phantom. You are making it up. Wake up. But if that doesn’t help and “safety” still plagues you– and I have been there–I once tried to rig my car to live in figuring I’d be there for a time before the bank came for my vehicle–then I would say invest in that for a while. I have been so afraid I could not sleep, so plagued by my own lack of pluck that I did not think I would make it, so lost in post trauma that I felt entitled so I had to attend to it fully. I’m still there to one degree or another so I am not attempting to be unkind. Fear is powerful. Look it in the eye and fight like a mother bear. Get some kind of gig, amass some money and find a way to feel safe in a home. If it has a door and that door proclaims “do not come in without permission” then it is home. If, instead, you are wealthy enough to live in a nice home with so much stuff you are worried about someone stealing it then I would suggest getting rid of your stuff–clearly it’s keeping you up at night. Bottom line: safety people annoy other people because their priorities are false. Keep only what you can actually use and love. If you don’t love it, dump it. If you haven’t used it today, you don’t need it. Being alarmed about “safety” involving irrelevant crap is a waste of everyone’s time–especially yours. Being afraid around survival is also probably not true. If you feel that, and I’m sad if you do, then look it in the eye and see what’s there. If it’s a health thing then that can be real and powerful. Fight it hard with as much love and willingness as you’ve got.
Suffering. Here’s a big one. Most people want to avoid it. They run from it, hide, ignore and hope it goes away. Catholic saints dig suffering as do many other religions’ saints. I have a friend who only thinks he’s fully alive if suffering. When he’s comfortably reclining he wants to talk about suffering to keep an eye on it. The Buddha said forget about it. Suffering will happen, the cause of suffering is wanting what you don’t have or fearing something that may happen, his solution to suffering is to stop doing that. If you stay in the present moment you don’t want what isn’t here and you can’t fear something that hasn’t happened. It’s simple enough. Be where you are. Stop trying to game the system and be so clever you can get around suffering. If you just stop and live in the moment you’ve done your job. If you’re suffering–so what? You and a million others. Reach out, whine to your friends, be fearless in your suffering, express it, embrace it, love it and eventually let it teach you and become a part of you. Easier said than done but still doable.
Honestly I dislike the people who think they can whip the system. In this way I cause my own suffering. These are the people who cover the earth in birch bark and pavement to avoid weeds. When all humans have ceased, weeds will grow through the bark and pavement. Quit trying to manipulate the world to be what you want. Honestly no one cares what you want. I had a guru friend who was wise in the ways of the spiritual path from his many books, classes and teaching. We went for a small walk in the woods and he treated nature like his slave complaining about the nuances of its various paths and turmoils. After that walk I knew he was not in right relationship. As above, so below. If you cannot respect the laws of nature, you cannot understand your own nature. The only way to beat the system is to understand that you cannot–that the world and all its inhabitants are worthy of respect and understanding. People are not in charge–you are not in charge nor am I. We are fellow travelers so obsessed with how bright we think we are that we’ve declared ourselves the boss. The Universe is laughing. The planet is laughing.
I think its all laughing at me, if I were important enough to be worth a chuckle. I hope so. Sitting here in my little flat dispensing “wisdom” I know nothing about is also part of the grand joke. What do we really know? So let me climb off this high horse that has somehow managed to reward me with some paying gigs and get even more real:
I’m barefooted, five foot two, no real bank accounts and a little home full of stuff which represents stuff so obscure most would not get the reference. I am nothing. But here’s what I have the tenacity to say I know:
It’s wrong to raise your hands or voice in anger because the harm echoes within everyone who does it and hears it for years. It’s right to help someone younger or less experienced in any way you can, teaching is a grace rarely given so if you can teach anyone anything consider that a true gift. It’s right to fall in love. Period. Full stop. Nature is the truest thing. Children are precious and worthy of every minute you can be in service to them, elders teach us in the most memorable ways and breath is life. Art and music are life too–feeling is life and anything which evokes that from words of great writers to the notes you placed in your journal. They are all life.
So young man trying to work it all out I would say–don’t be stingy. Give of yourself freely every chance you get and know that’s the best and greatest thing you can do. Don;t worry about results because none of that matter. You are born in love, steeped and intended for it. Do that. Forget about success and safety and all the crap you’ve been told you are or should be. Be love from the tip of that curl at the top of your head to the sole of your sensible black shoes and you will be alright.