Heart Over Matter

They say it’s so hard to love that only the select few can manage it, or only mothers, or preachers, or ascetics, or blah blah blah. What BS. It’s not difficult to love unconditionally; that’s the only love there is.  It’s not difficult to be kind, to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, to try, even for a minute, to see the world from another perspective. It seems difficult because we buy into the narrative, the same way we think we could never climb a mountain until an ailing octogenarian does it.

I’ve never met a straight-up villain. They abound in fiction, gossip, news and our egocentric fantasies, but rarely in real life. Why do we keep perpetuating the myth of elusive compassion? How do we expect anyone to make an effort if all we ever say is that the odds are stacked against us? In my experience people want to do the kind thing far more than the mean thing, but our programming says love is hard and we’re only human. So we do the mean thing, which takes up far more energy and psychological space.

All I hear every day is how rotten the world is, so even though I want to hug you I’m going to fold my arms until the urge fades. It’s stupid and painful. We need to stop talking about how awful everyone is and how tough it is to be loving. It’s a lot more difficult to cut ourselves off from our innate desire to connect. Most people have good intentions, but we need them to be monsters for the purposes of whatever dramatic story we want to tell ourselves.

I don’t know about this dog-eat-dog world people talk about. In my world everyone’s brushing stardust off their unicorns. Sometimes they miss a few grains. Sometimes the unicorns bite. Sometimes Strawberry Volcano spews scalding hot chocolate sauce and everybody has to run. But hey, life goes on. As far as I can see, we have to actively stop ourselves from being kind, so maybe let’s just…not. Not put up that wall. Not reinforce the ludicrous notion that social creatures that crave contact don’t WANT to connect. It’s absurd and dishonest and dangerous.

Every day we do awesome things. Raise children, make art, run marathons, build relationships, overcome illness and heartache, serve our communities, achieve various goals. If we can do any of that, we can definitely embody more compassion than a monk on a mountaintop. We don’t need to fake it; we need to get rid of the pile of junk that blocks the way.

It’s not hard. Just pick up a broom and start sweeping.


Irreconcilable Differences

Dear Anger,

We need to talk.

I have loved you obstinately for as long as I can remember. I have fed you with news I need not have entertained, stories I need not have read, energy better served lauding what is good. We have lain awake long nights together, intertwined in our dizzy, youthful passion, so sure, so outraged, so right.

I see you, Anger. I know all your twisted machinations, your helpless despair, your tear-stained hiding place under the stairs. I know you deeper and better than I ever wanted to. You are mighty and fierce, a storm we all must weather, but I confess that at last I am weary of you. You are heavy and I am old. You are bloated with the pain of all ages, all things, all worlds. My back is breaking. I want to dance again, and there is no dancing with you, except the mad, shrieking convulsions of the dying. I am tired of your indignation, your borrowed horror, your boiling, blistering blood.

This is where I lay you down, burden of my ancestors, inherited fury, impotent and backward-glancing. This is where I stop, and breathe, and live again.  This is where I say, enough.

You have served me as best you could. You have taught me things, cruel, vicious, necessary things, and I am grateful. I will not forget. But I must keep walking, and you cannot follow. You are not honour. You are not justice. You are a frail and desperate thing trapped in a cage, craving company. I know you believe that only you can make things right, but you are wrong. You are all temper and bruises and burned bridges. You don’t play fair. You break things, and I want to build them.

For so long I followed you blindly, convinced that condemning the cracks was a worthier cause than strengthening the foundation. But why waste energy trying to tear down the prison when I can craft a key? Why despair over a world I loathe when I can help create a world worth loving?

Oh, Anger, stop crying your crocodile tears. We both know you’ll forget me the moment I’m gone. The world is full of young, naive hearts just waiting for you to break them. They will fall hard. We all do. We can’t help it.

Maybe one day we will learn how to do without you. Until then…try not to rip too many worlds apart.

Goodbye and good riddance,

Your former lover