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Sunday, December 4, 2011

the candle

Firstly, I apologize for the lack of a post on Thursday. I was on a weekend-long school retreat, which was phenomenal. However, it's not what I'll be writing about today.

I adore words; you all know what. Reading books and poems is like consuming food; it gives me strength. Writing and thinking them is like breathing; it is necessary. But, as with anything, there are some words I simply feel uncomfortable with. One of those words is love.

It reminds me of four dreaded letters that fall, more often than not, out of the sky as a great condemnation to feeling. Where is the safety in love? Where is the assurance? "Oh you love me? Fantastic! Where's the prenup?" This is our world. We have forgotten how to be okay with our most base feeling, our most base commitment, because it means, all too often, manipulation.

I'm not just talking about romantic love. Romantic love is its own little disaster, but I'm writing about the love we are supposed to see everywhere, the love of friends, mentors, students, family, even of perfect strangers. Where is that love? Did it ever exist? Did we blow the candle out?

Or are we just struck with a malicious case of cultural - nay, global - amnesia?

I wrestle with this question a lot, and, if you notice, I use the word love very little on this blog. How do we trust something that hangs in the air between two people, but can never be seen, bought, sold, felt, broken? Is it perfection or imperfection that spawns this? Is it a feeling or a promise? Is it both? Is it that moment of falling or the sensation of firm solidarity?

Obviously, I'm not the expert. None of us are. We have ALL bought the same thing, the same mainstreamed lie: love is just a sensation. Oh, foolish man wake up! Love is why you keep your head above the water! It is why you look into the eyes of your mother and weep sometimes! It is why there is no ground beneath your feet half the time, why there is a ground the other half. It is the heart of your every passionate thought, the soul of your every throaty cry. Every time you've raged at the sky, every moment of perfect stillness - it has happened in this force, greater than gravity or the will to dominate. It made the world, and it will end it, I'm sure, eventually.

You see, Coffee Lovers, I don't know if God exists, and if It does - I don't know who It is. I have no idea if it's Allah or Yahweh, Zeus or Krishna. I don't know if It resides in each of us, if there are More than one, if It remembers that we're down here, looking up. I'll never know and you won't either. But I'm confident of one thing: even if God doesn't exist, love does.

It always will. For as long as we have children, as long as we have flowers, as long as we have homes and homeless and hope, there will be love. It will drive us to the heights of insanity, it will pull as back form the brink, it may push us over. It will rip us in two. It will sew us back up. I believe in it.

I hate that word, and I always will. Love, amor, liefde, ai, pyara, cariad - they're all words, and words have a definite beginning, a definite end - a shoreline or a continent; they break eventually. But as a friend of mine told me this weekend: "The ocean just doesn't end! Stick your feet in the water here and you know it's the same water a person in China has their foot in! It's incredible, just so beautiful."

It is. It really is.

I write this today because there are some things that are too big for just one person, for a hundred or a thousand people. I feel like my life is a lot of big things right now. Unfortunately, I'm sixteen and still foolish. In preperation for what is waiting in tomorrow or the days beyond, I'm terrified of saying, doing, or being the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time. There is simply no instrcution booklet for life, and I'm only just beginning to figure that out.

But I sat down at coffee with a friend of mine today, and we were discussing these happenings, and in spite of the looming hopelessness, we grabbed each other's hands and looked in each other's eyes and decided we'd just love ourselves, each other, and the world through it all. So, you see, I'm realizing it's all we've got to hold onto: the hands of our friends and the love that those hands represent. Call me corny, tell me I'm melodramatic, but don't forget your darkness is dark until you remember where you hid the candle. When you find it, let me know what dreaded four letter word was carved into its waxy surface. I'll hate to say "I told you so."

So, I'll probably say "I love you" instead.

May your coffee be strong, your passions electric, and your laughter easy.


  1. And I believe that it will be enough.

  2. Michael, this is wonderful. As is the rest of your blog. (: