Tag Archives: life

Let Your Parents Tell You Their Stories

I can’t count on my two hands the number of times my parents or elders have told me the same stories, both trivial and significant, thinking it was the first time they’ve shared it. Or how many times I’ve sighed, rolled my eyes, and said to myself, “Omg. This again.”

I can, however, think of five separate and distinct moments where my dad told me of the time he’d gotten so drunk he fell asleep two nights straight in a compost heap and thought he’d die from alcohol poisoning. Or the time he went skinny dipping in Lake Superior. Or the night he got so high and was pulled over by a cop for driving under the speed limit when he felt like he’d been driving the DeLorean.

I used to think that he’d tell me these same stories to deter me from making bad choices– as if the hundredth iteration would really drill it into my head.

But now, I think back to how he would smile telling me about how young he had been. How scary it was in the moment but how funny it had become in hindsight. Reading in-between the lines of his laughter, I learned how it’s okay to want to experiment, make mistakes and collect experiences like a librarian collects books to put on her shelves. To enjoy life and remember the passing moments it affords you. And most importantly, to force your kids to listen to them one day.

Because what are memories if not drafts of the stories we’ll one day share with others? And what are stories if they’re never passed on?

As I continue to hone my understanding of “adulthood,” or the illusion we cast of it, the more I start to appreciate storytelling as a reliever from the stresses and challenges of life, of hardships that age us.

So, I think my parents know exactly when they’re sharing the same thing to me, and I don’t think they care. In fact, I’m sure they enjoy it, which is why they do it.

And I enjoy it, too.

Because they’re growing older and might not be around tomorrow to tell me again. Because the tenth time could be the last. Because they get funnier each time. Because when I hear them again, I find new details. Details that have nothing to do with the story itself, but with the person telling it.

It’s a wonderful thing to feel connected to those we love. And the stories we share are more than just their words or their lessons to be learned. They’re the movement of the bodies telling them, the tones of their voices, and the embellishment of their details.

They’re spaces of belonging and connection that make words and people feel like home.

They’re branches off the same tree bearing fruit that continue to feed a necessary part of us.

And they’re the bridges between bodies that won’t always be there to walk along.

So let your dad remind you that candy was a dime a dozen when he was a kid. Let your mom tell you again of the time she fought a boy in third grade because he liked her. Let your Lola and Lolo lecture you weekly about what life was like before the age of technology.

Let them tell you these chapters of their lives. Cherish them. Because these are the threads in an endless tapestry that decorates an otherwise dreary world.

I Don’t Know Sartre–– Does Life Really Begin on the Other Side of Despair?

I think a lot. Right hand raised, I am a chronic overthinker. & sometimes my emotions literally consume me. Paralyze me. Compounds my guilt or worries or doubts like a never ending game of Tetris.

But that doesn’t matter.

Everyone over thinks, and I am not unique in feeling this way. I am not unique in feeling the gnawing anxiety that blooms when I think about the future, of what I want to do, who I want to be. I’m not even unique in feeling I am simultaneously doing the best I can while also feeling I am failing in nearly every aspect of my life. 

Some days I can push that all aside though– all the self-doubt, disappointment in myself, in other people– and just live and trust in life, in the universe. & other days it feels like there’s an ocean in my chest, pushing against my ribs and making my entire body feel heavy. 

And sometimes I wish I could just collapse within myself and silently drown in that sea of feeling or go into hibernation until it dries up and can no longer consume me. Sometimes I wish I could bury myself beneath a garden and grow into the orchids my mom loves and waters every day. & sometimes I wish I could evaporate into mist and become the clouds that change their shape with the wind. That would feel like a more productive use of my body.

Let me stop here for a moment. I am not suicidal. This is not a cry for help. 

I think we’ve been taught to fear negative emotions, hard things, intangible mental challenges like worry and anxiety and overthinking, & we believe something is wrong with us when we feel these things. So we fear being authentic with our feelings–– with others, but mostly with ourselves.

But I don’t believe our less desirable emotions define us. Negative emotions don’t need to exist in opposition with forward action, progress, or growth–– with movement. I think, a lot of times, they exist hand in hand. 

& I think we can still be sad, or anxious, emotionally paralyzed, or consumed with worry and still be our best, do our best. I think contrasting emotions naturally live and exist together at the same time, more often than we wish them to. And I think that’s exactly where I am at this time in my life. I don’t really believe anything defines me, us, more than our own actions despite our feelings, whether positive or negative. 

So no, Sartre. 

I don’t believe life begins on the other side of despair. I think life begins in the midst of despair. I think life begins despite that despair & I think the best of us are still trying to figure that out. 

“Life begins on the other side of despair”

Jean- Paul Sartre

There is no reality except in action.

Jean- Paul Sartre

Don’t Date A Girl Who Reads

I’ve read “You Should Date An Illiterate Girl,” and “Date a Girl Who Reads” and now I come to you, bold letters and hands to hip to say, “Don’t date a girl who reads.” 

Don’t date a girl who reads.

A girl who reads will know if you’ve really read Pride and Prejudice or if you’ve lazily googled the summary on SparkNotes. She won’t be impressed by the way you understand the symbolism in Animal farm because it’s already painfully obvious. She knows Romeo isn’t a figure of love and that Gatsby didn’t need Daisy, he needed a therapist. A girl who reads might love Heathcliff but she also understands that his deep and brooding nature is unactualized potential and that his codependence on Catherine hinders him from healing his own childhood trauma. 

Don’t date a girl who reads if she’s gone through all 585 pages of Moby Dick. She can tell when a climax is not worth the endless chapters of exposition and will not wait for you to take action. And if she’s versed in Morrison, well good luck, because she knows not to fall in love, but to rise in it. She’s read long books and short ones and knows when a story should’ve ended pages ago (Read: The Old Man and the Sea) so don’t draw out the tension if the resolution is mediocre. She will grow bored, steal the pen away and write her own ending. She’s read and reread the most divinely crafted proclamations of devotion, ones that have been dog-eared, wrapped in Hughes’ blue cloud-cloth and crafted to syntactic perfection. She’s read these passages so often that she’s ingrained them in her memories and houses red alarms in her heart that are triggered when someone comes close to reciting them. So don’t be discouraged when she’s unmoved by your “hey, u up?” text at 3 in the morning.

When Venus tells Adonis to “stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie,” a girl who reads knows Shakespeare is talking about oral sex. She is well versed in fuck boy rhetoric of all kind. She does not want the illusion of selflessness cast over the “you deserve better” cliché. She’d rather have the unconditional love between James Carstairs and Will Herondale.

A girl who reads will want a Luve that she can fold into a red, red rose or write into a sonnet and she wants a heartbreak that has her crumbling into oblivion or shouting into the void because she knows that a perfect love is boring to read. She craves dynamism, multiple climaxes in one story, oscillating periods of passion and discontent and knows that the initial wave of infatuation often gives way to a period of indifference held together by an implicit contract of loyalty and commitment, but that it’ll rise into another crescendo if both characters are patient and determined enough. A girl who reads doesn’t revel in stagnant waters, she rushes towards the waves, towards the other shore Márquez has promised. She knows that that real love isn’t just one or the other, it’s everything–– it is all of it.

You cannot offer the world to a girl who reads. She has gone beyond the white, male pages of the canon and travelled with Hosseini and Lispector, with Pavlova and Tan and Tolkien and knows when to romanticize the world and when to live in it. She’ll read Hurston, and Roy, and Allende and despair when she realizes that Kerouac’s fabulous yellow roman candle-lit night is not the same tainted midnight as Laurie Anderson’s. A girl who reads is not a coffee stained manuscript waiting for your eyes to rove over her at a cafe. She does not fill her shelves with de Beauvoir and Wild and Walker so that you can idealize her into an overdone trope. She does not want the responsibility of opening your eyes to a new world and is not filled with hidden messages waiting for you to annotate between the lines. A girl who reads couldn’t care less if you’re enchanted with the way she smells the pages of a book or runs her fingers through the deckled edges.

She is bold, sans serif font underlined and italicized to her own liking. 

But don’t date a girl who doesn’t read, either.

A girl who doesn’t read might choose to buy a dress or a new pair of shoes instead of a first edition Vonnegut. She’ll zone out at poetry readings or drift into a daydream at the first page of Hunger Games but come alive when you flip to the Western Conference. She might even use a paperback copy of King as a doorstop.

And you know what all this will tell you? Nothing.

It will tell you that it doesn’t matter if a girl would rather spend her Saturday nights drunk and celebrating the beauty of another woman she just met in the bathroom or if she can shotgun a beer faster than the post-nut clarity after your 7 minutes of mediocre performance can hit you. It doesn’t matter that she can’t stylistically analyze a single page of The Sound and the Fury and that she cannot be romanced with Neruda or Pound because she, too, will not be not swayed by your rehearsal of another man’s words and empty declarations of commitment without action.

Maybe she doesn’t read literature or critique the classics, but that doesn’t mean she lacks the intellectual capacity to have deep discussions on politics or existentialism, that she cannot color your life with more shades of cerulean than the Pacific Ocean. She won’t recognize Woolf or Dickinson but she’ll still demand passion and wonder and will see right through any shallow understanding of love and womanhood that many have painfully attempted to categorize under literate and illiterate. She, too, will despise the way others correlate her intellect with the number of books on her shelves and scoff at the way women have been grouped and pitted against one another in outdated binaries.

And in that moment, you’ll find that a girl who doesn’t read can be just as formidable as one that does, that there is no hidden value to be found in a girl that reads that cannot be found in one that doesn’t, that philosophies and values learned through text are not inherently superior to those formed by experience alone.
And when you realize this surface-level perception of literacy and of women is a fragile pairing wrought from a dirt stained lens, it will intimidate you and it will destroy you. 

So if this is how you view us, don’t date a girl who reads.
Don’t date a girl who doesn’t read.
In fact, don’t date a girl at all.
None of us want you.

Note: I actually really enjoyed reading “Date and Illiterate Girl.” I appreciate it’s purposeful diction and beautifully crafted syntax and understand the piece for what it is. “Date a Girl Who Reads” was kind of cringe-y at some parts, but there were passages I identified with. So consider my piece as not an attack to these respective authors but a response to all the boys who’ve labeled me and many other women as “coffee shop girls” or a “party girls” without understanding that these designations are empty labels devoid of any true substance, that it disregards the multitudinous identities a woman can adopt. 

“How Do You Know You’re A Writer?”

Sometimes the words fall through the tips of my fingers with the same excruciating slowness as that of the leaves of a hibiscus detaching itself from its stem.
Other days my hand speeds across the page with the same intensity as a tornado threatening anything that gets in its way.
Some moments I wish I never have to pick up another pen or glide it across another page.
Many days I hope to spend the limited seconds of my life buried in words so deep, I’d collapse from my final breath before I’d ever crawl out.
Often, I wonder if I should keep going, keep connecting the curves until the ink runs out. Or I wonder if I’ve fallen hopelessly in a passionate outburst of words born out of over-inflated self importance.
I write and I write.
And I am tired.
I am exhausted by the mental capacity needed to come up with another simple sentence, another worthy thought, which almost always comes up short.
And before I know it, I am just a word that flows into the air, evaporating into the clouds until it is barely the shadow of a letter.
It is like a wish being thrown into a well falling until its echo is just a whisper. Sometimes someone hears it and other times, no one does.
And so it falls like dead weight to the ground.
But I cannot not write
because there is no other choice but to be
and for me, to be is to find those cursed words
that I write over and over again, until they lose their meaning.
And so I write.
And I write.
Nd I write.
D I write.
I Write.
Write.
Rite.
Ite.
Te.
E.

My First Poem of 2020

clip art flower.png

 I wrote a love poem once

But the words never made it on paper
Instead, they flew right out the window
And they rose and fell and evaded me 
before shooting across a rose covered sky
Like a comet during a sunset

For two decades,
They followed the waves of the Seven Seas

Crashed against the banks of countless countries
Weaved their way through Chocolate Hills and 
Machu Picchu, along the Great Pyramids of Giza, 
Through the South Pole, and then into the Northern Lights
Where they stayed for a long while. 

And for a time,
I thought I had lost them forever

That they had fallen into some dark abyss
With no one to catch them
Or found their way into a stranger’s distant dream
who would wake up that morning
And forget.

I had never imagined
that they would have fallen haphazardly onto your lap
–– unannounced and without preamble

ages before I had even heard your name,
 

and

I would have never dreamed
That the stars and the moon and the countless suns
had all planned the exact moment
 when we would meet,
me, with my unmarked paper

you, with my worn and well-traveled words

and that you had been waiting
       all this time
to return them to me. 

 

Confronting the Burden of Freedom in the Face of Systematic Religion

Confronting the Burden of Freedom in the Face of Systematic Religion
An Exegesis of “The Saint” by V.S. Pritchett

“My thought is me: that’s why I can’t stop. I exist because I think… and I can’t stop myself from thinking. At this very moment – it’s frightful – if I exist, it is because I am horrified at existing. I am the one who pulls myself from the nothingness to which I aspire.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre

“How extraordinary it is that one feels most guilt about the sins one is unable to commit.”
V.S. Pritchett

“Il n’y a de réalité que dans l’action.[1]
Jean-Paul Sartre

The great burden and blessing of life is the innate freedom belonging to humanity. We are free to live, free to die, free to walk to the grocery store or drive there. Our very identity is comprised of choices that have been dictated by our own actions or inactions. Perhaps the question is not whether or not we have choices but rather, which one is the better of the two, or the three, or the myriad of other possibilities. The facticities of life may illucidize[2] us into believing we are limited in opportunity– that the only choice is to take that test, to continue living, to wallow in poverty– yet what this truly points to is the reluctance of individuals to accept the responsibilities, burdens, and uncertainties of the other options we are too afraid to unbury. In V.S. Pritchett’s “The Saint,”[3] the burden of freedom surfaces from the depths of systematic religion– that which confines its congregation to routine behaviors that restrict individual consciousness and displaces responsibility.

In the Church of the Last Purification, the image of God is unsullied by imperfection and is revered. Mr. Timberlake and his congregation all seek an entity who will cast his final judgement on the world, determine the outcome of their individual lives, and thereby, remove the responsibility of action. To be a part of the Purification is to become a passive participant of one’s own life. It is to immobilize the fearful limbs of uncertainty. When the narrator describes Mr. Timberlake after he unmasks the pretense of the Purification, he claims, “By no word did he acknowledge the disasters or the beauties of the world,” (Pritchett 620); he was a man unable and unwilling to grasp onto reality long enough to participate in the world around him. The characters in the text illustrate this passivity through their dependence on God to provide the necessities of life. The uncle is described as a man “always in difficulties about money […] convinced that in some way God would help him” (612). The congregation lays in constant wait for the way to be “shown” to them rather than actively pursuing their opportunities (615). In Being and Nothingness[4], Sartre writes:

I am abandoned in the world, not in the sense that I might remains abandoned and passive in a hostile universe like a board floating on the water but rather in the sense that I find myself suddenly alone and without help, engaged in a world for which I bear the whole responsibility without being able, whatever I do, to tear myself away from this responsibility in an instant. For I am responsible for my very desire of fleeing responsibilities. To make myself passive in the world, to refuse to act upon things and upon Others is still to choose myself, and suicide is one mode among others of being-in-the-world. (710)

What the characters in the story are doing is allowing their abandonment to take root and control their lives. The facticity of their worlds remains unmastered and prevails through the weak will to substantiate their existence.

The Purification, moreover, is under the misconception that attaining a transcendent state of being will fill the lack, the nothingness, that all humans come from. Yet, this pursuit is a vain endeavor. Humans are incapable of perceiving perfection– a state which, by its very definition and the facts of their very existence, is unattainable. Sartre writes, “Human reality arises as such in the presence of its own totality or self as a lack of that totality. And this totality can not be given by nature, since it combines in itself the incompatible characteristics of the in-itself and the for-itself” (140). Thus, because they cannot perceive or experience perfection, they can never truly attain it. Because humanity possess consciousness, they can never truly become a being-in-itself. They are confined to the for-itself. To immortalize God (a being-in-itself) as they are (a being-for-itself) is to immobilized the progression of humanity– to deny the ability to surpass even the standards by which perfection was first casted.

To expand, in the narrative, Mr. Timberlake serves as a god amongst men and women. He is idealized and glorified. His presence in the narrator’s home is described as an honor. The narrator recalls, “It was unbelievable that a man so eminent would actually sit in our dining-room, use our knives and forks, and eat our food. Every imperfection in our home and our characters would jump out at him” (Pritchett 613). The flaws of their daily living, mundane aspects of their home that another would hardly notice, are starkly contrasted in the presence of this ideal being. His every word is law. Again, the narrator continues, “Whatever Mr. Timberlake believed must be true and as I listened to him at lunch, I thought there could be no finer life than this” (Pritchett 614). Yet, what we will come to find is that Mr. Timberlake is merely a human hiding beneath the pretense of perfection. He is a man who has abandoned the onus of his existence. He was a man “formally acknowledging a world he did not live in. It was too interesting, too eventful a world. His spirit, inert and preoccupied, was elsewhere in an eventless and immaterial habitation” (Pritchett 619). Mr. Timberlake looks at the physical world with “boredom,”(Pritchett 619) not actualizing his physical presence. He is disrobed of the illusion when he falls into the river. The narrator describes the moment: “It was a fatal flaw in a statue, an earthquake crack that made the monumental mortal… he was a declining dogma” (Pritchett 617-18).

In the text, the Purification and the existence of a God functions more as an illusion of security than an genuine pursuit for self-fulfillment. Yet, The inability to recognize the deficiencies of life, puts the members of the church in danger. Pritchett writes:

We regarded it as ‘Error’– our name for Evil– to believe the evidence of our senses, and if we had influenza or consumption, or had lost our money or were unemployed, we denied the reality of these things, saying that since God could not have made them they therefore did not exist. (612)

When Mr. Timberlake accompanies the young narrator punting down the river, a branch bares itself in the way. Governed by rules that deny the existence of a hazardous situation, Mr. Timberlake denies that there is a branch and as a result he falls in the river. Despite reality, in the eyes of the Purification, he did not fall and the branch was not present. In accordance with his faith, he continues on the day acting as if he is not drenched and the event did not happen; God would not bring into being an object that would hurt his creations. Sartre argues, however, that, “[humanity] is responsible for the world and for [themselves] as a way of being… since [humanity] is the one by whom it happens that there is a world; since [humanity] is also the one who makes [themselves] be” (707). The belief of the Purification displaces the responsibility of action to that of a being with no physical existence– who lacks any grounding in reality. Moreover, renouncing the onus of existence is still an act in itself. Sartre continues, “I am ashamed of being born or I am astonished at it or I rejoice over it, or in attempting to get rid of my life I affirm that I live and I assumed this life as bad” (710). There is only the world which we live in and there are only the choices we make. The trees, the air we breathe, the solid ground beneath our feet are tangible proofs of existence. To place blame on anyone other than himself for his own actions, Mr. Timberlake–– and in a larger sense, the Purification–– refuses to accept the burden of responsibility that freedom entails. They seek purification to provide the comfort of a predetermined existence. The narrator comes to realize this for himself when he is disillusioned of Mr. Timberlake’s ideality. He states:

I saw the shoes dip, the water rise above his ankles and up his socks. He tried to move his grip now to a yet higher branch– he did not succeed– and in making this effort his coat and waistcoat rise and parted from his trousers[…] It was at this moment I realized that the final revelation about man and society on earth had come to nobody and that Mr. Timberlake knew nothing at all about the origin of evil. (618)

The narrator realizes that this man, whom all members of the church have glorified, is no better than the rest. Yet, perhaps Mr. Timberlake had been aware of his lack all along when the narrator recalls, “[Mr. Timberlake] had come out with me, I saw, to show me that he was only human,” (620) which illustrates the active choice in remaining ignorant.

Another confining aspect of the Purification that Pritchett brings forth is the threat of a blanketed ideology that denies individual consciousness. An unspoken rule to establish membership in the church is that one’s own thoughts are poisonous to the goal– to the pursuit of transcendence. What follows are guidelines set to deny the negative outcomes that inevitably enter the lives of each character. Once again, when the narrator warns Mr. Timberlake of the branch obstructing his path, the faithful man proclaims that the branch is barely a challenge. The narrator then thinks to himself, “I did not want to offend one of the leaders of our church, so I put the paddle down; but I felt I ought to have taken him further along away from the irritation of the trees” (Pritchett 616). In an earlier passage the narrator is discouraged from exploring his thoughts when his uncle remarks, “This is my nephew. He thinks he thinks, but I tell him he only thinks he does” (Pritchett 614). This mentality discourages individual existence and reduces it to a whole, unified being. The foundation of this perceived unity, however, is laid with fear of repercussions from all members of the Purification. Sartre writes of subjectivity and individual experiences that “for [him], this glass is to the left of the decanter and a little behind it; for Pierre, it is to the right and a little in front. It is not even conceivable that a consciousness survey the world in such a way that the glass should be simultaneously given to it at the right and at the left of the decanter, in front of and behind it” (405). Thus, individual experiences are the only truth there is. A life cannot be dictated by a universal ethic, by which there is none.

Despite recognizing the restrictive nature of religion, one is left to wonder why it still prevails to this day. Churches are filled to the brim every Sunday. Theology is a pertinent subject in many private educations. Priests stand around pews preaching homilies from morning, afternoon, and twilight. Religion is, to many, a necessary part of being. While the primary argument of “The Saint” demonizes the Purification, the system of religion as a whole should not be demonized. For followers of Jesus, Allah, Yahweh, and the countless other gods, a sense of belonging overshadows individuation. The hope for an hereafter designed as paradise or the fear of the afterlife consumed in fires, albeit intangible and unprovable in our reality, can greatly drive one’s actions. Sartre writes: “My abandonment–i.e. My facticity– consists simply in the fact that I am condemned to be wholly responsible for myself (711). Hence, should our endeavors never reach fulfillment or our lives turn dark with dismay, we must assume the burden of the outcomes. This proves a paralyzing concept and some may find comfort in an assigned or predictable routine. What many view as “freedom” or “lack of freedom” is a neutral concept awaiting to be assigned a negative or positive character created by a subjective experience.

In a more positive light, while done to the extreme may prove unhealthy, perhaps denying the negative events that occur can alleviate the stresses of life and provide a sense of comfort. After his incident in the river, Mr. Timberlake tells the narrator, “Let’s go on. We‘re not going to let a little thing like this spoil a beautiful afternoon” (Pritchett 618). As the story progresses, the narrator recounts, “Heart disease, it was plain, was the cause of the death of Mr. Timberlake… It was a miracle, the doctor said, that he had lived as long. Any time during the last twenty years the smallest shock might have killed him” (Pritchett 620). It is at this point of the story where the narrator comes to realize that the Purification and its teachings saved Mr. Timberlake from an untimely end. This only affirms the notion that religion serves multiple purposes. While for the narrator it disillusoned him into discovering his own consciousness and reclaiming his freedom, for Mr. Timberlake, his faith, while a pretense, prevented a heart attack; he had “made for himself a protective, sedentary blandness, an automatic smile, a collection of phrases,” which provided him the comfort and security many seek for in religion.

Thus, to truly understand our purpose in this world, we must first recognize it as the only world. We can only fully understand our reality through our own experiences. Following this, we must reclaim our responsibility and move from a passive existence to an active one, in which our pursuits are predominantly governed by physical, forward motion and effort. What then becomes of our actions after this revelation? We may realize these truths, but to what end? The answer is that we must cast off the illusion, understand our responsibility and then decide if we should continue on our existence as individuals in a collectivist society or if we should partake in the ideals of our congregation and alleviate some burden of responsibility. Regardless of the outcomes that follow thereafter, we must always remember that we are never as alive, never as able, and never as responsible as when we become fully cognizant of a moment in which the progression of our lives depend on our action or inaction.

Notes

[1] There is no reality except in action.

[2] For the purposes of my paper, I took the liberty of creating my own word. To illucidize is to incite illusion or cause it to be.

[3] V.S. Pritchett. “The Saint.” The Art of the Tale: An International Anthology of Short Stories, edited by Daniel Halpern, Penguin, 1986, 612-21.

[4] Jean-Paul Sartre. Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology. Translated by Hazel E. Barnes, Washington Square, 1993, 405+.

Things I’ve Learned About Love at 22

We all know love requires trust and love is patient and love is kind blah blah blah. You guys can read all in another article or just watch A Walk to Remember. Below is my unfiltered and candid opinion of my own experiences.

I have to admit, I’ve been working on this piece for a while. And if you want full disclosure here, I’ll probably be revising this as I grow older and (hopefully) wiser. I’m not going to provide background on my love life in order to convince you I’m a credible source because let’s face it. I’m not. Hello!! I’m only 22!! I am not a love guru, nor do I wish to ever be one, and this post is most definitely not a “How To” guide for a successful relationship. But while I’ll be the first to admit there’s still a lot I need to learn, I also know that I’m not an idiot, so I have to have learned something. Here are some of my experiences and lessons learned and because I appreciate you all so much, I’ve compiled them in a list for easier reading.

  1. Love not a linear path– it goes up and down.
    It’s a lot of work to love someone and, admittedly, a lot of heartache.
    You often hear countless iterations of “love isn’t complicated. It’s people who make it complicated,” which I think is dumb. Granted, the sentiment is completely valid and has merit BUT you can’t remove an integral part of the equation– people! Without people, there is no love. So if love is an action, it requires someone to act on it; and unless you’re perfect and always make the right choices, love is going to be hard, dude.We’re going to mess up. Life might get in the way. Your partner is probably going to hurt you and you’re not always going to be the same starry-eyed lovers throughout the relationship. Yet, that’s also the best part of it all because the good times become great knowing you’ve both made it through the fire.
  2. Don’t idolize your partner
    When we first meet someone, it’s easy to cast an illusion over them. Infatuation blinds us to flaws. What happens when that illusion fades and we realize that the person we were so obsessed over is, in fact, human? Shocking! I’ve learned that we shouldn’t idolize our partners. The more we put them on a pedestal, the more strain they’ll be under to meet our expectations, which doesn’t leave room for mistakes in the relationship–– or growth. Just let them be human. The rest will work itself out with proper communication and understanding.On the flip side, it’s pointless to try an portray yourself as a “ideal” version of yourself because you’re afraid they’ll leave if they see the ‘real you.’ I’m not saying you should be a bum. But love requires us to be honest with who we are. We weren’t designed to be perfect. We were designed to be better. How can we improve if there’s nothing to work towards?
  3. If you’re not going to be vulnerable, there’s no point
    No one wants to be the first to open up. We never know how the other person is going to react to our flaws and insecurities, but that’s intimacy. That’s love. That’s what makes your person different from all the others– the trust and openness you build with them. Without being vulnerable, they might as well just be another person you pass by on the sidewalk.
  4. Love is the little things 
    My first love baked me a cake for my birthday, likely because he didn’t drive and didn’t have a job to buy me anything fancy, but it’s one of my favorite gifts to this day. In my last relationship, my partner dropped me dinner at midnight because she knew I’d been at school all day and hadn’t eaten and likely wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve always felt most loved when my partners reminded me to get off Twitter and finish my paper or when we’d go out to eat and they’d give me the lemon in their water without asking because I love lemons. Such small things but every tiny action was a substantial reminder that they were listening to me. The little things were the reassurances that they loved me.I think social media and viral videos of couples decorating their significant others’ bedrooms with a million balloons and obscene amounts of red roses and lavish gifts has misconstrued the purpose of grand gestures. It’s almost become a competition of “Look what MY partner did and what yours didn’t,” “My relationship is perfect,” or “Get you a man like mine!” Don’t get me wrong– it’s great to have someone go above and beyond for you. But that’s not love. That’s a performance. You can definitely have both, but you shouldn’t confuse the two.
  5. Love is scary, bro
    If you’re anything like me, you’ve subconsciously sabotaged one of your relationships at one point or another for no other reason than you’re afraid. You’ll pull away or push your partner away because you’re scared to fall in love. After all, it’s easier to move on when you didn’t invest any substantial part of yourself. But do it anyways.The worst heartbreak I experienced devastated me. I cried every night for almost a week. Worst of all, I couldn’t listen to music and I live for music. It’s the one thing I start and end my days with. But I’d physically want to throw up when I tried to listen to anything– even sad songs!! Imagine!! But that’s how I knew I had loved him because it hurt that much. Even now, I never want to feel that way again, but I also know that’s probably not going to be the case. Love is a risk. So take it. Even if it doesn’t work, you’ll learn more about who you are, what you want, and what you need and perhaps fall in love with yourself instead in the process. Isn’t that nice?
  6. Testing your partner’s love for you gets you nowhere. 
    Don’t test someone’s love. It’s dishonest and if you have test them to prove they love you, then your relationship is lacking. If you have to push them away to see if they’ll come back and fight for you, that’s a lack of trust. It’s not love. If they love you, they’ll show you. They’ll listen to you. They’ll communicate. In the end, we all do what we want to do anyways.
  7. Love should never feel like it’s at the expense of your own happiness
    (My friend actually gave me this one. Thanks, D.)
    We romanticize the idea of someone taking care of us first–– of doing everything in the service of those we love most. Which, while noble, without any balance can be extremely burdensome and detrimental down the road. Love requires some sacrifice but love, itself, shouldn’t be one. If it hurts you more than it heals you, is it really worth it?
  8. Your partner shouldn’t be your everything.
    I understand that life is an endless obstacle course with breaks being few and far between and we need people to help us overcome our latest hurdles. We aren’t built to be solitary. We need people to live a life worth living, but we shouldn’t exclusively need one person. No one should be the end all, be all of your entire existence.Yes, spend time with who you love. Give them the best parts of yourself. But love requires space every now and then. Love yourself and your partner enough to recognize that you both need a life outside of each other. Be individuals.
  9. Soulmates aren’t real/ Love is a choice
    Look. I’m not jaded. I don’t think unconditional love is unachievable. I think there are a select few people who’ll fit you better than most, but I definitely don’t think there’s only one person out there for you. If love is a consistent choice you have to make everyday, then you choose a soulmate. You’re not given one by the universe.Here’s a quote that sums up my believe perfectly. A poetry book by Criss Jami once read, “To say that one waits a lifetime for his soulmate to come around is a paradox. People eventually get sick of waiting, take a chance on someone, and by the art of commitment become soulmates, which takes a lifetime to perfect.”
  10. Finally, Love is a mystery and no one has all the answers.
    Even having typed all this out, I know there’s still so much more I don’t know and so much more I need to learn, but life is for the learning inclined and dull without any mysteries. So I’m perfectly okay knowing I don’t have it all figured out.

I realize that a lot of this might come off preachy to some and someone is bound to disagree with me, so let’s have a conversation. What have you guys learned about love so far? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Sea of Silence (Look, it’s a working title ok?)

Tonight I laid beneath a galaxy of emotion
Striking, and paralyzing, and somber
and I wondered
how many times have I been here before?
how many times have I told myself
that maybe it’s time
To bridge that great divide
Between an ocean loud with feeling
& the coveted land
Stable and silent and sacred
And swim through the salted waters,
Miles away from my own solitude,
stand before the sun drenched shore
and stop—
Only to turn back to the solace of shackles and shadows and say to myself
Some sorrows are too deep to share
— ?

Letting Go

Today, I painstakingly unfolded a crumpled piece of paper
That I had been carrying around with me in my pocket
For weeks it had been imprisoned too tightly in my fist
Compressed to the point that I had torn the edges,
trying to pry the page free of its strict creases, over-bent corners, and smudges
With its alternating lines of happiness and despair in now unrecognizable print

I unfolded it from the awkward skeleton of emotions it had become
From the confining lines of unshared passions and unsure promises
And with sure and gentle fingers, with a little bit of sadness too, I refashioned it
with all its imperfections and all its torn sides– into a blue paper crane
That could crane its paper neck, and flap its paper wings
& I let it go, set it free into the deep wilderness of random debris
of empty cartons, and wasted food, all encased in a plastic bag in the corner of my kitchen

when my heart caught up with my sight, when it saw how my hands were brave enough to do what it had failed to
it felt unburdened and f r e  e,
& in that moment, light as a breath
I let loose the bent wings of my own paper soul,
suddenly wild and unencumbered

and I, too

took

      flight