Who’s not scared of love? I mean whether you are scared that it will or will not find you, that it will or will not last, that it can or cannot exist – in some theory we are each scared of love. Scared of getting our hearts broken – scared of taking a risk – scared of putting ourselves out there. Scared of not taking a chance, or taking too many. Scared of making a leap of faith, or not enough. Scared of losing ourselves, or of truly finding who we are.
Whether you check mark the box labeled single, married, separated, or divorced – each of us has our own desires in a relationship, or what we anticipate from one. Each has our own hesitations and expectations … each are scared as to what happens when our expectations fall short, and our hesitations come to surface … and more likely, scared of what happens when expectations can be met, and we can stop being afraid.
When do we stop being afraid?
I watch my grandparents, who have been married for 52 years; still expressing their love for one another and I admire what they have. I once asked my grandpa the secret to their marriage, and his answer gave me such hope in relationships. He told me that him and grandma never fought over anything, besides the children – no matter what they always respected each other, listened to each other, and supported each other. I see them interact with one another and value that foundation of respect, and love. As Grandpa will tell me, “Kiddo, you’re not getting any younger…” On the eve of another birthday, I find myself not so much afraid anymore of finding love, but more afraid it will not find me. So how do we become unafraid? What first surfaces in my thoughts are to face our fears and shed our layers to our walls we have built in the form of self-protection. If I have learned anything from myself it’s that walls serve a purpose, but eventually you must learn to let in the good and not just keep out the bad.
“If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.”
If you are a woman and have a pulse you know what movie that line is from; for some of you of the male persuasion you may need to know that is from “the Notebook” – ah, you have heard of it …. .
Ladies, how many times have each of us seen “the Notebook” – eleven, twelve? Yet it happens to be on as you walk through the living room and you cannot help but sit down, grab a Kleenex and have a good cry. Doesn’t matter what you were doing at the time - dinner is burning, the toilet has a “diving” GI Joe in it, the door bell is ringing - we are mesmerized by this fictitious movie – it captures our mind, our hearts, and our thoughts. And it stays on our mind, the depth of their love … long after the ending credits stop rolling.
Why do we allow invented moments such as those shown on the silver screen – dominate our thoughts? Suckers for movie moments I suppose – but when was the last time someone gazed into your eyes and said something that made music begin to play in the background, while the stars did a twinkle dance (not to be confused with “tinkle” dance), and all at once your heart skipped a beat and you lost your breath ….
Yet still I am a hopeless romantic, waiting for a movie moment. And I would not change that quality about me in exchange for any other more “riskless” traits. The Dalai Lami said, “Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk…” I hear stories of what seems to be plaguing my friends at the moment; relationships just started off, relationships ending – some on hold, some hoping to take shape. I ask them why I am the go to Dear Abbey and I am told, “Because your heart is that of a true optimist. Rational, non-judgmental, understanding, and you always encourage a start and a finish, and cherish the in-between.”
So here is my advice to them, and my advice to you: Take a chance
Remember when we were in middle school and our biggest relationship moment was when a note was passed (or we did the passing) with the key question – “do you like me?” Followed by drawn squares of Yes and No … I would draw in my own little tiny box labeled, “maybe”, check it, and pass it back. Looking back, that maybe was my vague way of playing hard to get. I have no doubt that whether you were the passing party or the receiver, you were scared.
But the difference between then and now, besides our ages, maturity levels, and actual “events” of true love, heart break, and everything in between … is that back then we actually took chances. Sure, sometimes the note came back with a check mark by “No” with a “Way” written in behind it, but it did not stop us for trying … again, and again we would send and receive. We may have not known the meaning of love, but we could have taught our adult selves an invaluable lesson: pain is temporary – failure will last forever – not taking a risk can lead to worry of the unknown, and taking a risk could lead to a playground romance that just might turn into a walk home, and a nervous kiss on the cheek goodnight … but you will never know how that walk will turn out if you don’t initially take the first step ….
As fate would have it, as I began writing this piece, my daily affirmation arrived, from Tut.com and seemed to fit flawlessly:
Yesterday I watched a small bird, flying very fast, disappear into the canopy of an oak tree. So dense were its leaves that it was impossible to see what happened next, though I can tell you it remained inside.
I wondered how the little bird found its opening through the leaves at such a speed, and then managed to gently align its fragile body on the branch it chose to land upon, all within a fraction of a second. Not to mention the impossible to imagine flying maneuvers required: the banking, the curling, the vertical and horizontal stabilizations, the deceleration and landing.
Memory? Calculation? Not in that tiny brain. Instinct? Maybe, but how does instinct know which way the branches of a tree have grown when no two are the same?
Chrissy, that little bird just knew. It had faith, in spite of not being able to see how things would work out, that if (and only if) it stayed the course the details would be taken care of; that an opening would appear and a twig would be found.
In fact, had she slowed down enough to carefully and logically inspect the tree first, the prudent thing to do, she would have lost her lift and fallen to the ground.
Kind of like reaching for your dreams. Neither memory, nor calculating, nor instincts are the deciding factors, but faith coupled with action.
Stop doubting, stop questioning, stop analyzing – your break ups, your marriage, your new relationship, older one, or lack of one. You have a choice to let that someone in, or push them away. To build upon, or tear it down. To embrace change, or shy away. Having the understanding to your fears, and the appreciation to face them gives you an opportunity to cleanse your soul, improve yourself, and in turn improve the relationships around you. Being afraid … in whatever relationship capacity … can bring nothing refreshing to your life…
... but taking a "walk" … asking to be bird … and soaring without fear can give new perspective, new depth, and a new view to life ….