Of the 2,456 inbox messages to my blog I’d give rough estimates that 2,450 of them are about love. Questions pouring over the nature of love, losing one’s self in love, a first time in love, how to love, and, perhaps most prevalent, what to do when that love turns to heartbreak.
Love, in its’ various shapes and sizes, is central not only to our personal lives but our experience here on Earth. The capacity to love, and to love willingly, is a defining characteristic of our species. But, as Neil Young famously sang, it is only love that can break your heart.
So while we have the capacity to love, we also have the great capacity to hurt, and harm, and destroy. And in that sense we are both humanity’s saving grace and biggest threat. 2016 was a rough year for nearly everyone I know. There was death, heartbreak, war – and though these are constants of life they seemed particularly prevalent. Yes, if 2016 has shown us anything it’s that we have indeed hurt and harmed and destroyed each other a great deal.
And so I forego answering just one particular question and instead pose this one to you, to all of us: How do we learn to love in a time of crisis?
As a planet we just seem heartbroken. We have been betrayed by each other. We have been unfaithful to our values and founding ideals. Emotionally, we’ve abandoned each other. We’ve been violent – throwing plates, throwing bombs, throwing insults. Our fear has made us isolated.
When are we truly ready to love again? To really love again? When we’ve been hurt and bruised so badly – how do we let someone in? Let another nation in? Let the refugees in? Because we’ve opened our hearts – our borders – before, and been burned, scorned and bombed.
So we’ve learned our lesson, it seems. And we’ve retreated inward. Where it’s safe. We’ve built our bunkers and stocked the pantry with animosity. For protection. The rifle is loaded, we’re waiting at the door for intruders – someone ready to make false promises and disappoint us.
How do we trust again when we’ve been told lies, so many lies? We’ve seen the text messages, we know you’re not just friends. We’ve seen the emails. We’ve seen the off-shore accounts. The Wikileaks, the way you look at other women, the brutal cellphone footage. We can’t trust that uniform, that badge, that sincere look in your eyes, because we’ve placed our faith there before and it’s been stopped, frisked, and unfairly prosecuted.
Where do we go from here? With our broken hearts, our gaping wounds, our wounded, our fallen, our forgotten? Where do we take our troubles? Our sick and starving children? Our need for support? Our cravings for intimacy? At whose feet can we rest our sensitive souls?
How much time is enough to time to heal? Half the length of the relationship? Of the revolution? Of the occupation? We’re just 200 years out from slavery, eleven days into the presidency and only six months from the break up. It all feels fresh. It feels like there’s so much more time to go.
I don’t have the answers and just when some seem clear the vision clouds with yet another headline.
But… I suppose we are not getting any younger, right?
The days won’t rewind.
We can’t go back.
We have to put on our little black dress and get back out there. After all, these are the hottest days of our lives. These are the only days of our lives. This is all we’ve got, so we’ve got to make it work. Work together.
And we can. #YesWeCan. We’ve been hurt, but from our hurt emerges a new strength. A strength calcified. Scabbed over. Walking with a limp but moving forward nonetheless. Shelling from the blast embedded in our flesh – now simply a part of us. Bionic human.
“We have all hurt someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. we have all loved someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. it is an intrinsic human trait, and a deep responsibility, i think, to be an organ and a blade. but, learning to forgive ourselves and others because we have not chosen wisely is what makes us most human. we make horrible mistakes. it’s how we learn. we breathe love. it’s how we learn. and it is inevitable.” Nayyirah Waheed
On January 21st the world emerged from its’ bundle of grief to say we are here for eachother. Do you forgive me? Will you take me back? How can I make it up to you? How can I be here for you? New voices emerged from the rubble to proclaim their pain, and reclaim their pain. Voices emerging to say: from love’s pain you created great music, and I filled pages of a blog. It was naught for nothing. And I honor the pain, and release it. And I honor the pain, and use it to help others patch their leaky roofs and fill their spirits so that we all may sleep in warmth and with full bellies.
Maybe the way we heal is together. Maybe we can declare 2017 the year we dare to love again. The year we learn that the true secret to love is kindness and generosity. That in turning towards each other, in seeing each other fully and imperfectly, we can participate in the global healing of our hearts. Because if we all take the leap no one will be standing on the edge alone. So I will say it. I will say that I am ready to love again. I am here on the line, poised for the battle but bearing no armor. Open and defenseless.
Now who of you will join me?