In the moments leading up to the lunar eclipse, S. and I were on the phone. She had been trying to calm her dog from incessantly-loud fireworks. I felt truly present in our conversation, calmer internally than I had been in recent history, and she picked up on this immediately. We hung up the phone moments before the big event, she knowing and respecting my penchant for prayer during eclipses. I suppose it's not unlike making a wish or saying a prayer on a shooting star. These days, I find myself praying more than ever, especially when I cannot tune into myself enough to write. Sometimes, I find it is much too loud in my soul to get anything down on paper that satisfies me. I think of the Paul McCartney video for "Dance Tonight" with the spirits jostling around, having a grand party, and I equate it to what happens within me. The only difference is - my "spirits" take the form of thoughts and emotions clanging up against one another.
So I set myself on my knees to pray, and I focused intently on all the pain that has materialized in these pandemic months - both within my life and the lives of others in my immediate sphere. A long time ago, during a severe bout of depression, someone told me to envision my hand as a dry eraser and my mind as the dry erase board. Each time a negative thought occurred within me - and there were many - the idea was to "erase" it. Though not foolproof, I found that it did force me to restructure my thinking and to pay attention to the ratio of negative to positive thoughts. I decided to apply this method to my prayer, envisioning my hand wiping the slate clean and therefore, removing all of the pain that has befallen so many of us. Had such pain always existed, but we were all too busy going about the daily rat race to pay any real mind to it? Perhaps such pains were smaller in magnitude, with the past months only serving to exacerbate them at a rapid pace. There is a theory that eclipses speed up time. I have begun to believe that pandemics do this also. They certainly get us thinking about the paths we have been on.
My thoughts drifted to love, as they always do, and for good reason. I am, after all, a woman driven by love and connection. Often, when I meditate or pray, I think about what love means to me. I try to paint a picture in my mind of what that ideal connection would look like. Each time, I come up with two scenes - the first, waking up next to someone, one of life's greatest joys. The second is to sit together drinking coffee, tea, or what have you. I imagine I am like Johnny Cash, who described his definition of Paradise as: "This morning, with her, having coffee." I suppose this is what I mean when I refer to love as a quiet partnership, even a companionship. You can't have a true relationship without the foundation of friendship. I often make my students laugh by telling them we are building the "media literacy tower." To do that, we need to have a strong foundation. Otherwise, nothing built will last. The skills that I teach them will simply come crashing down. The same goes for our interpersonal relationships. When built upon a strong foundation, a partnership can be reached. Partnership is, in my eyes, the proof that true love really does exist. To have a partner is to have won at life. After all, a relationship is about the "right now." A partnership is about what is right for you. Our hearts know these answers.
I meditate on this thought, and my mind drifts to the pablum that the media pushes on us these days - this idea that "if you like it, you should have put a ring on it." While I understand the sentiment behind the lyric and the fact that it had to be "jazzed up" to appeal to an audience - have we fallen so far as a society that we only equate love with a ring? It would seem so. I see many rushing into marriage, especially during these pandemic months. I wonder: are they in the "right now" or the "right for me" frame of mind? So many people, myself included, don't want to be alone. But life has taught me that, in the wrong relationship, we feel just as alone. I think of my longest relationship that went on way past its expiration date, and all of the mutual ties that were involved. I held on just for the sake of holding on. The expectation was that I would be there. I did not want to disappoint. But people have an incredible way of adapting to change, perhaps because life is change and challenge. Those mutual connections that wanted to remain close to me, did, and were genuinely happy for me for taking control of my life. Others showed me their true colors, proof that they hadn't added any real value to my life at all, and therefore, did not deserve to remain a part of my journey. Funnily enough, it took me leaving for my ex to admit that he also hadn't been happy. He went on in pursuit of what whet his appetite. That is a story for another day. To date, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. But it was the most liberating. It was the moment I got myself back. How true it is that we can't love anyone, or be any good for anyone, until we ourselves are happy.
In January 2020, SpillWords published a poem of mine called "The Center of Feeling" (see below for the poem). In the last lines, I write: "Be the one who loves me. I'll be the one who loves you." Lately, I have been thinking a lot on this. Love is about the "right for me." Love is the person who just fits. Perhaps there is no rhyme or reason to why this person just fits, only that they do. To be with this person is to believe in magic again. I'm not talking superficial showings of magic and fairy tale extravagances but rather, the quiet magic that you feel in your soul when they look at you, brush against you, or smile. They understand and love you for you. They share in your sorrows when you are sad, and are your solace when needed. They celebrate with you in your joys, and everything in-between. This person is your person and you, theirs. There is a level of understanding between the two of you unlike anything either of you has ever experienced. Because, when it comes down to it, those are the things we all should be striving for in our moments on this earth. Those are the things we deserve.
The swing is calling, and I must heed its call. Magically,
The Red Queen