a heart wide open
josephine ann, 3-6-2008
“Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot.”
I am looking back on something I wrote in November of 2006 on some dark Wednesday night. I sat down to write this thing- this nomal, everyday sort of thing- and I tried to define love. Something in me wanted to explain to myself what it meant to fall in love, and that maybe it was not so much a fall as a gradual descent towards this something better. I thought about the idea of love as a sudden blaze, suddenly ignited without any prior warning, and I said that maybe that was all wrong. A woman that I know- the only road- left me a note that said "maybe everyone's fire is different."
She was right.
I was driving down the road today on my way to work, windows down on a warm Thursday afternoon, singing along with John Mayer. It was a cd Ryan had given me a while ago, back when we first started dating, something like three months ago. I’ve never bothered to keep count, because I always thought that when the number turned into years the months would be mostly insignificant. I was listening and I was singing along and I was unconcerned with my idle train of thought. I had turned the cd to number fifteen so I could listen to "Say", my favorite Mayer song.
Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You better know that in the end it's better to say too much
Than never to say what you need to say again.
I was listening, and I was tapping my thumbs along with the beat against my grey steering wheel, and I was thinking about love. I was looking back on the last six months of my life and who I was before those things. Remembering another version of yourself is a funny thing- it is like meeting a familiar person in a strange place. And you know this person has more to become, more to be proud and ashamed of, more to love and then lose. You want to tell them all of those things, but you know that part of joy in life is the unexpectedness of it all, and you don't want to ruin the surprise. You know that the only way to learn is to live, and that you can't avoid the pain that comes with that. So you smile at them as they pass by, a little oblivious and a little ignorant, and you say a quick prayer for all the things that are to come in their life.
Who I was six months ago and who I am at this moment, at 7:31 on March 6th, are both essentially the same and yet fundamentally different. And I was wondering about that- how I had changed, and why, and to what point or purpose. I was trying to connect the dots in love, to find some sort of pattern to this primary affection, to study the paths of the strings that tie us forever to another person.
I have come to the realization that love is different for everyone. I do not believe that any two people in the world have the same kind of love as anyone else, and I have learned that the paths toward this love are not predictable. There are no warning signs before love- "dead end" or "sharp turn" or "decrease speed", or maybe just "caution." No amount of neon signs could prepare us for being changed in such a way, and nothing could make us forget it once it has happened. There is no common denominator to love. There are no constants, save this- that you are better for it. Maybe not happier- not always- but you are always better; you, as an individual, are somehow altered forever.
I was thinking about my alteration, and something hit me with force that made me stop tapping and stop singing and stop thinking about anything but exactly this- I cannot imagine my life without his love in it. I cannot see myself without him, and I do not want to. It's one of those things that you latently know but never consciously realize, and when you do, it knocks everything out of you. This love has brought a light to my life that I didn't know existed- it's like someone turning on the lights when you never knew you were living in the dark. It's like feeling water on your skin for the first time, when you didn't know there was a difference between dry and wet. It's like seeing when you never knew you were blind. And it reminds me of the first time I knew God, and the feeling that I had that there was so much left to be discovered, that there was a whole other realm to my life that I hadn't even known before this very moment.
This was that moment.
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as your eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open.
It was a wall of water, magnificent and awe-inspiring. It was a rush of warmth, the feeling of being at home, of finally laying down when you've been standing for so long. It was like hands on your face and finding that for the first time, you belong with someone, and there could be no other beautiful emotion in the world but this feeling that you are feeling right now. There could be no other God-given thing in your life than that one person, the one who knows you and feels you and in so many ways is you, because this part of you is so much a result of them that sometimes you feel like you carry them with you everywhere.
The world was still turning at its normal pace and the cars were still moving exactly the same speed as before and when I looked in the mirror I looked like the same person I had been thirty seconds ago, but I knew that on the inside I was not the same at all. Because I had been shaken by the realization of love so great that it transcends where I am and where he is and the logistics of age and time, because all of my life I have been preparing for this one thing. I realized that he has been a part of me from day one, from the first time that I wondered what it meant to really love someone, and every time I struggled with that question I built that path towards him. I added logs and fuel to the pile, and all I ever needed was the match. He gave me what I needed, and I burst into flames.
I was thinking about these things and I was trembling with the magnitude of what I had just come to understand. And John Mayer was still singing- say what you need to say.
I picked up the phone, and I heard the sound of finally coming home.