Sunday, December 28, 2014

Year End Yearnings: Beauty, Relationships and Love

Hey you - you there - with the digital eyes. 

After a rammed holiday season of family,  food and fellowship, and a weekend of moving around, sleeping on friends mattresses, jamming in loud cozy basements and listening to soulful performances at a favourite little haunt in North Grenville, I've come to the realization that my life is pretty full. In a stretch of working 18 days in a row in December, I was in beast mode - trudging ahead with a plowlike mentality. Cutting wood, hauling 8 foot spruces and Scotch pines, driving tractors, screwing plywood and writing pithy, alliterative  posts about music and food filled my time. Since then, I've had some time to play and surround myself with family and friends, but only in the moments of stepping out from the fullness sphere do we truly see and appreciate that which we have. 

I had a conversation with my friend Ben in his kitchen recently, 
where we talked about our respective Christian upbringings.  We touched on how both of our mindsets have changed over the years - but Ben was saying that in his thirties, he has begun to see more of a spiritual pattern in his life after holding on to a fairly atheistic world view. He said (and this is pure paraphrase): 'I've come to see some spirituality in a few things - but mainly in beauty and in relationships'. 

Beauty and relationships. 

That phrasing rung true with me as well. Because as scientific and as empirical as we get, there are some things that we just can't explain. Words fall short at the doorstep. Beauty is beauty - it lives in a place beyond categorization. A sunset on my way home from the lumber yard, where the last dying light of day crests the rich blue-blackness of an early winter horizon. A moment on the way to Joel's cottage on a warm June night, while listening to Petty's Into The Great Wide Open, that I like my life - and that I do face a bit of an open path - and the anxious energy and freedom of that thought. 

And then there are relationships. Although infinitely more complex and difficult than raw beauty, they can manifest and grow and expand in so many directions - filling us sometimes with pain, distance, annoyance, exhaustion, heartache, tension - and other times with admiration, boundless acceptance, laughter, understanding, hugs, intimacy and ultimately love. Relationships make us look beyond ourselves - and as someone who admittedly gets fairly self-sphered, it's important for me to bounce things off people.

Love is something I've thought a lot about lately. What is it? What does it mean? Why does that word seem so empty, shallow and overused in our culture? Throughout Greek mythology and literature, there are many different kinds of love that apply to a multitude of circumstances. And though I do understand the validity of that multi-tiered ideal, there is a part of me that sees love as something bigger - and less complex - and all powerful. 

A friend said something recently that stuck in the craw of my psyche - she said that love changes. It's like water and can be affected by the tides. And that's okay to see it that way. 

But I don't think that's true.

When I think about real love, I think about my grandma Betty. Her door and dining room table were open to anyone she came across. In her eyes, it was almost as if there was no status or colour or creed - only a chance to listen to a new friend. 

I think love is foundational. Solid. Unchanged. It hits you in the gut like a Mack truck with no explanation or warning - but you know exactly what it is. It is unmistakable. It weathers the storms and it gives you shelter. It is selfless. It's one part challenge and three parts grace, forgiveness and listening. It desires the ultimate best for those it comes across. It sets you free - but It stands in the middle of your street, with open arms, and welcomes you home with a mammoth smile and wet eyes - no matter where you've been or how much money you have or what mistakes you've made. Love is always - it is beyond us. It is beauty. 

And I think that when you really experience that unmistakable wellspring and joy root within you, it's something that you should fight for. 

I want my life to be more about love, and so I'm going to try harder to venture down that road. I'm going to try to listen more. I know that I have a hell of a lot to learn, but I'm ready for school to start. Because despite all of my creative yearning, isn't love the best legacy I could leave behind?

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