Last night, I fell asleep on my couch again. If you would ask my friend Kathy, she would tell you that my overstuffed, fluffy leather sofa is very welcoming. It's really not a stretch of imagination or surprising that many a night has seen me curled up with my pillow and my red and brown polka dotted throw, sleeping peacefully kept company by the soft noise of the television set.
The last few weeks have been rough, I won't lie. I've been frustrated, stressed out, and emotionally out-of-control. I've become stuck in a loop of questioning why the universe is as it is, why am I the way I am, and longing for a day that I can actually sit back and breathe knowing that everything is just as it should be. A day where I wouldn't sit in self-loathing or doubt, or afraid that any minute my world will come crashing down again.
When I woke up this morning, I looked around my very disorganized apartment, and as staged as this may sound, it was almost as if fate were sending me a message. I looked at the television and Eat, Pray, Love began to play. I'm not even kidding. I was shocked by the irony of it all, and as I got up to make a pot of my ever-so-famous Butterscotch Toffee coffee, I looked up at my mantle where a poster by Norman Wyatt, Jr. sits, it is a poster of the one word that I have found that its meaning and reason for existence has completely eluded me.
It was like the poster was almost mocking me, because when I bought the poster and frame at my local Michael's craft store, I thought it would go well with my overstuffed brown sofa, the cherry-wood antique coffee table that my ex left behind and the rest of my things.
The word and the meaning of it has always been a focal point for me in my life, where it was either the lack of it, the withholding of it, the torture of it, the beauty of it or the ethereal mystery of it. I had always thought that it was a word that conveyed pure emotion paired with passion, different shades of intensity or just all around joy.
But then, as my coffee began to brew, I heard pieces of the movie and its little wisdoms. "The physics of the quest", "you don't need a man, you need a champion", Liz's overwhelming dissatisfaction that she had no lust for her own life.
As I half-watched and half-listened to the movie, the poster on my mantle haunted me and I pondered the age old question, "What is love?" I went further into it and asked, "What is love to different people? What does it mean?"
I looked up at the mantle and visually deconstructed the poster.
To some people, love is a flowing sometimes imperfect emotion. It brings them serenity as they ebb and flow through the emotion, accepting all of the little imperfections that are contained in the things they love. The hues and shades, light and shadows are all apart of their process, gently wrapping them up and allowing them to find peace.
But then come those who view love as a very black and white emotion. You either love something or you don't. Love for them becomes clear cut lines, whether it fills their heart completely when they have it, or when it's lacking, a horrid void. Still, it's an emotion with tons of little imperfections, but they know when it's there and when it's not. Sometimes, it torments us by reminding us that it's just a pure unspoiled emotion and we long for the purest form of it, whether it is from a child or even from our pets that share a love that has no bounds and cannot be contained.
Then there is the rockier sub-set who find that love exists amongst a sea of chaos. It's the imperfections that make loving something or someone among the chaos that brings them order and purpose in their life. Thriving on the turmoil, they find a way to sketch out the edges and define love amongst all the noise of life.
Then finally, the ones who find love a dark emotion, that they don't believe it's there because it almost hides. Or it might just be that it's buried so far beneath the surface that it has to be dug up like an archaeological artifact, running their fingers along the edges to find its shape and have tangible evidence that it is there.
But have you ever noticed when it comes together, it's not just one thing, it's a culmination of all four parts of the whole, the mind, the body, the spirit and hope, all wrapped up together. It becomes a tangible thing that you know when you feel it, you know when it's gone, and when you love something with all of your heart it becomes this mish-mash of all sorts of things. Have you ever noticed how accepting of imperfection love really is but at the same time adores to mystify us with it's varying shades of emotion? Sometimes it is selfish, other times it is selfless. All the while it stands away and apart from everything while at the same time likes to feel like it is the center of the universe.
It's a complicated emotion, as it is a complicated word. But sometimes, you just have to marvel at the simplicity of it.
I know that it has little pieces that go along with it, like devotion or faithfulness. It has a twisted, tangled, almost undecipherable nature. But, when we have it, we don't care whether or not it's made itself into an origami, we're just grateful that it is there.
When we lose it, we like to blame it almost as if it were a liar or a cheat. We become angry at it, we doubt it, most of all, we despise it for all the things that have been done in the name of it.
But there it sits, taunting us, begging us to take one more chance on it, knowing that its narcotic nature is nothing short of a dime-bag fix that we'll come close to selling our souls to get just one more taste of it.
What if, just what if we place too much importance on it? After all, we have to love ourselves first to understand how to love someone else, but what if it's just the simple action of taking our mug of coffee, sitting on the balcony and realizing that the universe is an awfully big place and that by just loving ourselves, with all of it's imperfection and varying shades of color, we find that one moment of profound peace?
And there it sits on my mantle, begging me to figure it all out, pleading to my problem-solving nature to dissect it and understand it. Some days I'd like nothing more than to throw the dang thing off the balcony for all the trouble that one little word symbolizing a gargantuan emotion has brought me. Other days I'm grateful for it remembering that it is the one truth in the universe that is worth sharing with every human being on the planet.
All I've really found is that we all deserve love no matter how imperfect we are.
So, question to all of you, what do those four very complicated letters mean to you?