I was warned once by someone who fancied himself a bit of a mentor. He told me that I wore my heart on my sleeve and therefore I had to be prepared for a life of hurt, or I had to change. He told me that keeping my heart exposed would keep me vulnerable and I risked others inflicting easy injury whenever they wanted.
I heard that man very clearly, sitting in the pub all those years ago. I contemplated the two paths as he spoke. And I knew I would never change because I couldn’t imagine life as a more closed version of me. So I prepared myself for the pain that came with that decision.
There has been pain, sure. But more confusion than anything. It never ceases to amaze me, for instance, how there can be such flurries, such whirlwinds of feelings and connection and passion. But yet over time? The heart is still susceptible to a life too ordinary. Even from out in the open, it can get distracted by the follies of work, chores, and the undefined paths we walk. Love isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something you do each day, happy or sad, bored or inspired, with the people you choose to hold dear.
Whoever taught that love was a finite store, lied. I can be on the floor seemingly bereft of emotion but spring to my feet for a friend in need. Whoever implied that love is a single, unique stream of emotion, I will disagree with. The way I love my family will never be comparable to the way I love my friends. No mentor told me love would be so confusing. And no one told me that, for a word in which we hold so much store, no one would ever be able to define it definitively for my sanity.
I know people who actively avoid telling anyone they love them as if it were a shield. I know people who say they love everyone as if the word is interchangeable with ‘like’. As for me? Being the other side of the world gives me huge clarity about who I hold in my heart and with whom I’ll always have connection. I’ve not necessarily known them the longest. They’re not always the people I speak to the most but I hear them whenever they send me word. I trust them to want only the best for me as I for them. They are the people I have cried with, in happiness and pain. And they are the people who, whenever I see them next, I will fling my arms around and, with pure joy, tell them I love them. And for every one of them who returns the sentiment, I know I’m blessed with a life full of connection.
** the hardest title of a post yet!