The Nature of Love

 

So, my friends.  We always think, when we hear the word love, of romantic love.  And don’t get me wrong, romantic love is a wonderful thing if it is part of your life.  But it is wrong thinking to think that romantic love is what should always be top of mind when you think of “love”.

My cats love me, in their own peculiar way.  They need to be close a lot of the time when I am home because I often am not.  They groom me and bring me various live and half-eaten prey to show how much they love me.  Dogs, fortunately, do not bring prey but theirs is a most unconditional form of love.  They do not care what you do or when, they just love you.  Cats are a little pickier but always come around.

And religion, ritual, spiritual practices tell me that G-d loves me.  The best version of any of these tells me that my concept of a G-d should be loving and caring and not punitive despite some of the biblical allegories that might drive you to believe otherwise.  I choose to believe that if there is a power greater than myself, it is caring; that the universe means me no harm.  Bad things happen, they are part of life not the vengeful creations of a punishing G-d.

Despite my own insecurities and self-doubt, I know today that my friends love me.  Now there are the women.  They are the friends whose love is wrapped in sympathy, empathy and hard truth.  They are the friends that fill my house with laughter when we play cards and whose paths, in many cases, parallel my own.  They are the friends that understand what my life is like at the present time and that is  a priceless gift.  Then there are the men.  I have learned that it is indeed possible to have really stalwart and steady male friends without the need for tension, chemistry or romance.  They have brought me meals, listened to me rant about the shortcomings of certain other men in my life.  They show up to fix things or reach things I can’t.  They refer me to services I need as a single homeowner.  They have my back all the time and don’t laugh at me as much as the women do.  They are the friends that just show up and care whether they understand or not. And men and women alike, I love them back.

And there is my son, with whom I am friends.  He is the friend that showed up every day to clean the pool and take out my trash when I couldn’t.  He is the friend that knows me inside out and doesn’t take any bullshit answers. He is the friend that thinks I should have romantic love in my life. He is the friend that shares his fears and understands mine.  We have come to this wonderful adult place.  And of course, he is my baby and I love him more than I will ever love anyone!

So, romantic love – it would be nice. But I have, as you can see, lots of love in my life; and it is good.

Movies~And thinking

Well, now that the highest of the high holy days have passed, I have no excuse.  I am going to do something I have never done before in writing, I am going to talk about a movie.  With the caveat that I actually don’t go very often despite the fact that I love going to the movies.

I went to see White Boy Rick. Yes, I know, you are thinking “really?”.  So just to get it out of the way, Matthew McConaughey was really good, as expected. But anyone can say that.

As I left the theatre I found that the movie had really made me think. And since I was by myself, I was walking along talking to myself about what I was thinking. Don’t laugh. Now there are movies that are pure entertainment, and there are movies the cause us to revisit historical or emotional spaces we are already familiar with but that evoke an emotional response. And then there is the rare movie that makes us think.

This movie, painfully based on a true story, is about many things.  First, it is about the seduction of money and status set against poverty and the failure of ambition. Second, it is about the abysmal failure of the sentencing guidelines that were introduced several decades ago. These draconian guidelines filled the prisons with non violent drug offenders on long sentences and contributed greatly to the growth industry that our prisons have become. And finally it is about the nature of the relationship between parents and children.  In this case an ineffective father trying hard in difficult circumstances to do what he thinks is right. And then he does what he knows is wrong, because he thinks it will be better in the end, which it is not. And it is about the pain of making choices constrained by poverty, hopelessness and constant failure.

So, my first movie review, I thought it was darn good and it made me think, and eat popcorn.

Academy of What?

 

It is amazing what my mind can do when left unsupervised.  Some of the things I think should and will remain unspoken, or at least unwritten.  But some random thoughts deserve to be aired, or at least it seems so to me.

I was driving down the road and saw a large sign on a building.  It was one of those moments when you just see the sign in passing out of the corner of your eye because of course you are watching the road. And what I saw, or what my brain thought it saw was: Academy of Marital Arts. I’m sure you can figure out what it actually said.

Now imagine what an academy of marital arts might be.  Listening lessons on one floor, sex on another, how to find common interests in one classroom, compromise in another.  The possibilities are pretty numerous.  And speaking as someone who has ended less than successful marriages, I think such an academy could be very useful.

In fact, I suspect that academies of marital arts might better equip our young for the future. Now understand that I have great respect for academies of martial arts and I completely understand the values they teach; discipline, respect, physical health and so on. But there are many places in our culture that teach, or purport to teach, these or similar values; little league, Boy Scouts, pop warner to name a few.

But just think, did your parents tell you how to be married? Mine surely didn’t.  My father was never married more than, I think, about 6 or 7 years; twice. My mother was able to sustain a little more longevity but has been married four times.  And, sad to say, I am coming up on her fast. But what matters is this: did anyone ever tell you to consider your lover’s needs when enumerating your own, did anyone ever articulate what day to day compromise really looks like, or true and genuine communication?  For most of us, no.

I grant that there are those of you that had wonderful parental or grand parental role models for how to be married. But even for those of you that lucky, it is likely that the world and cultural norms and expectations have shifted so significantly that those models quickly become passé. An educational institution could keep up, maybe.  So despite the usefulness of martial arts, I will continue to hope that somewhere there is an academy of martial arts.

Home ~ What Is

There are many, many versions of “what is home”.  It is where you hang your hat; where your heart is; where your dog is; where they have to take you in (thank you Robert Frost). And so on and so forth.  If you were to google quotes for “home”, I am sure there would be a whole lot of them.  But what is it really, beyond the trite cliches; whatever seed of truth they may have.

[tweetshare tweet=”I recently had a taste of what a truly empty nest would be” username=”TrienahM”]

I recently had a taste of what a truly empty nest would be when my college student son, who is getting ready to leave home for good, was gone for about ten days.  The background here is that I separated/divorced about two and a half years ago, after roughly twenty seven years.  At that time my son had come back home to finish college after having left for two or so years.  His presence was and has been a blessing as I have travelled through this weird and unexpected transition.  But when he was gone for those ten days, the emptiness of my home struck me, hard.

As I worked through the feelings I realized that home, for a long time was the place I created for others.  Now mind you I am a nestbuilder, having lived almost nowhere for more than five years in my entire life, but that is an analysis for another time.  For twenty five years give or take, home is the place I created for my son, for my husband, for a family.  Now the son is leaving (and taking the dog), the husband is gone.  So home has to be what I create for myself.

Home is about habits and routines.  And for just me, the habits and routines are very different than they were for family.  I eat at different times, I sleep at different times, I do laundry at different times, I grocery shop at different times.  My life is no longer circumscribed by family life, only by work and my own wants and needs.

But that realization wasn’t immediate.  What was immediate was the awful feeling of coming home, for the first time in almost 30 years, to a dark and empty house.  No other car in the drive, the outside lights not on to welcome me home, no dog wagging a stump so happy to see me, no other living soul.  The house had a very different feel despite the fact that I have lived here longer than anywhere ever and it is very familiar.  I cried.  Not sure why or for what.  And each day it got a little easier, a little more “normal”.  I could park in the middle of the driveway, not worrying about leaving space.  I remembered to put out the trash.  I grocery shopped for just me.  And each day it got a little easier.

My son is back, but working on his own transition and will soon be gone.  I am thankful for the crazy cats, they still greet me and are happy to see me, mostly.  But I know when he goes this time, it will be a little easier, a little more familiar, a little more “normal”.  I know that home, now, is what I create for myself, finally.

Luck, and Action

Gratitude, essential and elusive.  Something I have tried very hard to instill in my son; that regardless of what we don’t have we are so much luckier than many.  I think he gets it.

There is something guilt provoking in being grateful that others’ misfortunes are not yours.  But isn’t the essence of gratitude the idea that “it” isn’t or hasn’t happened to you? Yet.

The state of the world often brings tears these days, yes crying again. The Hondurans who have lived here as productive citizens virtually all their lives, now to be sent “back” to their non-home. The violence and deaths in Gaza and Israel.  The dreamers who have never known anywhere but here. The national parks being dismantled and made less accessible.  The children who go hungry in this wealthy land. The teachers who have to strike for a living wage, knowing they are hurting the children they love. Nazis marching in our streets, openly racist and anti-Semitic; behavior that while existing, was frowned on and mostly repressed for decades.  The black men gunned down for no other reason and the women who mourn for them. And on, and on, and on.

[tweetshare tweet=”I remember the intense idealism of the sixties and seventies, I lived it. And I have always held dear the notion that love and good, coupled with action, would win the day. I dedicated my first career to that notion, and to a love of the constitution and the rights of the underdog.” username=”@trienahm”]

I remember the intense idealism of the sixties and seventies, I lived it. And I have always held dear the notion that love and good, coupled with action, would win the day.  I dedicated my first career to that notion, and to a love of the constitution and the rights of the underdog.

I fear that love is no longer enough.  But as a personal matter, I have to remain positive; about the world, about my life.  And the shortest line to positivity is gratitude.  So I practice a prayer of gratitude every day on the way to work. Radio off, spoken out loud, thanking the universe for what a good life I have and acknowledging how intensely lucky I am in so many ways.  And the antidote to negativity and especially self pity is always gratitude.  And then there’s always action, fuel for gratitude.