Monday, March 09, 2009
I wish I could reach the place I'm longing to go. I have been waiting. But then it seems the thing I have been waiting for no longer matters after years pass without it. Other things bring happiness in surprising ways. Writer Monica Ali describes the fickle nature of our desires in a revelation about different kinds of love. She says there is "the kind that starts deep and slowly wears away, that seems you will never use it up, and then one day it is finished. Then there is the kind that you do not notice at first, but which adds a little bit to itself every day, like an oyster makes a pearl, grain by grain, a jewel from the sand." Do you desire a well with fire that burns until it goes dark, or an ember, slow burning by your breath upon an open slate?
It's likely true that I don't have to choose, that Ali's two kinds of love inform each other and work as one. How would you know when the sand becomes the pearl if you didn't know what a pearl was? That doesn't mean that the two are ultimately the same. They fill different needs. The delight of running bare toes through cool grass is something I can feel now, just by remembering; it awakens you, but everyone eventually puts their shoes back on and steps onto the sidewalk. That pleasure is different from emotional constancy, building each day by another's presence. But the day-by-day can be a chore. Each one falters, and each one holds the other up.
I've gotten off on love, and I started with dreams and the happiness that fills empty space. That happiness feels good; it's a satisfaction with today. I used to battle longing for the things that weren't there. Now when I think of the future, if people ask me or if I ask myself, I'm okay either way. Both kinds of life are good. But even with that, I sometimes want more and wonder if I'm living in the in-between places. When your dreams don't find you, do you forget them, or do they disappear? I wonder if I'm supposed to remember something that slipped away long ago. And here I am again.
(artwork by Joy Young Shannon, RHS alumni; title inspired by Kate Zaluski's journey to the D.R. and back)