Punitive is the word that came to mind, but now having looked up that definition… I don’t think that’s the right word. I think it just sounded like the right word.
You see, tonight I have picked up a book. Not any book. Really just by chance. A book on a shelf of which many shelves and books exist in the household. Mountains, really. Why this one, probably because I knew nothing about the character. Nonfiction. Something tragic.
Love always draws me close- I want to understand it better. I don’t currently. But a sequence of words regarding love stopped me harshly. And honestly. And I think the word I was thinking of was simply just puny. But punitive sounds more complex, ha. Well, they’re not the same.
Puny is the word to describe the way I have recently loved. Other words- weak, feeble, limp, restricted, insufficient, fear-filled, incapable, pygmy, hiding, complacent, prideful, apathetic.
There’s no use in life to hiding. When my world becomes so small that I’m the center, that complete or even partial control of my life resides in… me… I’ve found that my use for life itself radically diminishes. I wonder often why things feel so… boring? Perhaps it’s because you’re hiding, dear.
Only following into situations that have been pre-conceived as non-threats, controlled social situations, comfort, limited dissonance… those are like my jam, you know. But in the heart of that, things are quite boring. Not saying we should prefer disagreement to beauty, rest, peace, grace, desire, love. But just saying that I am officially convinced we are not created to run away when their perilous opposites come calling. There’s really no right to do so once we know the Creator’s love.
What started it all was a conversation between two people who love each other.
“Dana came into the room. She stood beside me, and we made eye contact. I mouthed ‘Maybe we should let me go.’ Dana started crying. She said, ‘I am only going to say this once: I will support whatever you want to do, because this is your life, and your decision. But I want you to know that I’ll be with you fort the long haul, no matter what.’ Then she added the words that saved my life: ‘You’re still you. And I love you.’”-Christopher Reeves in Still Me, pg. 32
What am I talking about here? Christopher Reeves thinks he’ll be a burden if he keeps his life. This conversation is right after his big accident in ’95, and right before one of his big surgeries. Asking his wife how about we cut the plug and just let me die. She’s letting him make the decision? Can’t say I would be able to say to someone I love – “it’s your choice.” I would try to make them stay for me. Real mature, Claire. Next thought, she said, “…I want you to know that I’ll be with you for the long haul, no matter what.” “You’re still you. And I love you.”
But the ideas that came in the next paragraph are what just about made me shit bricks like Manny at TOTA used to say. “If she had looked away or paused or hesitated even slightly, or if I had felt there was a sense of her being— being what?— noble or fulfilling some obligation to me, I don’t know if I could have pulled through.
I present my love as quite noble. Look how good… I… can love… you. Look how patient I am— nice, huh? Usually pre-prepared and assuming the needs of those around me, in weakness and pride, I envelope myself in the pursuit fulfilling a bubble that I’ve created blindly and cowardly upon my assertions of other’s needs. But actually loving? No thanks, I’ve got this one in the bag. Being actually present is much scarier and stranger, but I’ve found that I have very little in life if loving in the way of pre-prepared love.
There is legitimately no way Dana could have pre-prepared it. She didn’t stop to be like this stoic lady and like milk all the nobility she could out of this one. She meant it— and on top of that to give him the freedom to choose? What? She is knocking this out of the park. It’s notlike overly sappy. It’s just human. To live in love moment by moment. I’ve noticed that this kind of living is actually pretty dang hard to notice. It’s really human, not that magical. We don’t have very much magic as humans when it comes to love. I have selective love, too. So I can “love” someone really well, while discounting others that I would say I currently loved “quite well”- negates itself wouldn’t you say?
Learning is really just unlearning everything you thought you knew.
Special thanks to Prof Ramm for editing this. #yallwillneverknowhowbadmygrammarishehe