Inspiration comes in many forms. It can come from a book you’ve read, a song you’ve heard, a movie you’ve seen. Sometimes, it comes from dreams. For me, it’s come much closer. It is in the eyes of the man I love.
Society inundates us with messages about love. Most of these are mixed messages. Love is easy. Love is hard. Love stinks. Love is a battlefield. There are affirmations that all you need is love. There are questions like, is this love? Or soul searching mantras like, I want to know what love is. Some people have crazy love and others are drunk in love. If you are looking for love, you can head on down to the love shack. It’s a lot to take in. You combine the constant stream of songs about love with your experiences and it can be a jumbled mess.
Here’s my backstory for perspective. Last year, I made a huge life decision. I packed up the kiddos and moved west. I left behind old limitations, in search of new adventures and experiences. My goal was a fresh start, living as my authentic self, giving my kids an opportunity to thrive in a new environment. I left a long-term relationship of 7 years, realizing that it was not good for either of us. Love was replaced with contempt and life was a mundane series of events to accomplish so that we could move to the next day, and do it all over again. I was miserable. I thought leaving that behind, with a change of location, and new friends, and a new routine would somehow cleanse me of old patterns. My slate would be pristine and ready to write a new story. A change of scenery is just that, my friends. It is a different zip code, different altitude, different house to make a home. But there’s still a Target down the road and a Starbucks on the corner. You learn the routes and you settle in. Pretty soon, like David Byrne of the Talking Heads said, “it is the same as it ever was.” He was right.
Real change comes from within, regardless of the location. It’s the “work” that the enlightened crowd dishes about. It’s the gut-wrenching self-reflection. You realize you’ve been schlepping a crap-ton of luggage and it follows you everywhere, until you decide to unpack it. And as Ringo said, “it don’t come easy.” Yes Ringo, you know, it don’t come easy.
When you’ve come to believe that love is indeed, a battlefield, your focus is protection. It is girding your heart so that it doesn’t get broken. It is looking out into the abyss of no-man’s land and wondering if you will finally be victorious in your plight to attain the elusive, real love. How do I get there? What’s the strategy? Who is the enemy? What is my next move?
Out of nowhere, you meet someone incredible and things are going well. You are excited and hopeful. Then you notice your old battle scars and worry. Will I come out of this more battered and torn?
What if love is not a battle to be won? What if it’s not tainted? I realize this is the unpacking. I’ve been looking at it all wrong. I have let my past and anxiety about the future steal a precious gift, which is the present. Where I am now. Who I am now. Sure, we are all products of our experiences, both good and bad, but it does not define who we become.
So here goes, I am abandoning the strategy. Taking off the armor. Putting my weapons down. Waving a white flag and surrendering to love. Knowing that love can be anything, depending on the vantage point. From where I stand it looks like an amazing adventure. It’s perfect in its imperfections. And when I look in his eyes, it always feels like home.
My friends, this must be the place.