words :: revisited

floral image taken near Malibu California

{on my desk sits a black fabric journal.  it is a plain, ordinary, nondescript book. from the outside, it looks as if it could not possibly hold anything important.  only I know that it holds the most valuable thing I possess. my story.}

5.22.09

I’m in birthday party hell.

I’m standing in the middle of Dave and Busters (which, for those who are not familiar, is like Chuck E Cheese on steroids).  The bright flashing lights and the incessant beeping and buzzing have brought me to a level of overstimulation that mimics a really trippy high.  All around me I see glass-eyed parents and kids, feeding tokens into games, fixated on collecting long snakes of tickets to trade in for any number of crappy plastic toys or candy.  It’s like the very worst of Vegas, ripe for a membership drive for a future meeting of gamblers anonymous.

And in the midst of one of those spectacularly surreal ‘this is my life?’ moments, when Julie is deliberating between multiple versions of Hannah Montana flashlight key chains and Bella tries to stretch her points as far as they can possibly stretch (consumer culture microcosm anyone?) my cell phone buzzes in my pocket. And then buzzes again, and again, and again.

I pull it out and I see four texts from Mani.  My first thoughts it that something is wrong, but then I open my phone and all the flashing and buzzing and chaos fades away as I read:

I had the sudden urge to tell you I love you
no matter what and for always
and to take you on a boat,
sailing toward the horizon
until we couldn’t see the shore
and have you look around
at the endless expanse of sparking sea,
and realize that it belonged to you.
every last drop.
and I wanted to let you in on my secret,
because I know we can breathe underwater.
because it is time you realized
that you will never drown.
we don’t drown. we adapt.
we don’t get swept away.
we drift, we ride current, we grow gills, we grow wings.

And in the moment that I absorbed those words I let that exquisite act of kindness wash over me. I let her love and compassion and wisdom soak into me in waves of bliss and I had an experience of momentary but utterly perfect serenity.

It is not just that she wrote those words (for I know her to be a woman who experiences her existence in poem), nor the fact that she would hold flawed, messed up little me with such utter tenderness (for even can occasionally accept that I am worthy of such emotion).  No – it was none of those things that evoked such reverence.  What matters is that she took those thoughts, those feelings, those words, the cadence of that poem and she sent it spinning out into the universe directly to me and placed it in my heart like the most precious treasure.

And I can’t help but wonder – what if every time I thought of someone with tenderness and compassion or gratitude, I took the next step and gifted them with that in the purest form possible?  What if we sent our love spinning out into the universe more often?  Once every day.  Ten times.  Twenty.  One hundred.  What if we did it and shared it and then others followed suit?

What if we gave it just one day, and every time we thought of someone with love – even if it’s not someone with whom we normally interact – we took the time to let them know? If every time we were inspired by a line on a blog we took a moment to make a few extra mouse clicks and leave a comment?  If every time someone opened the door for us we looked them right in the eye, connected ourselves to them through our shared humanity and not only said thank you, but meant it and felt it with every part of our being.

Mani could have had those thoughts tonight in the midst of caring for her girls or studying for her midwifery exam or a million other things that fill her life to overflowing and pushed them away as nothing more than thoughts.  But she didn’t, she held on to them and gave them shape and sent them to me on a crazy night in the middle of a crazy week filled with guilt and blame and self-recrimination and bitchy, snappy base level parenting and stress in a ball that pounds in my chest.  She gave them to me, and she didn’t just change things for me, she changed things for everyone I will come in contact with tomorrow.  And the next day.  And the next.

Because if she can hold me in such tenderness and I can allow myself to be held, I feel certain that I can extend that outward in all directions.

And really, that’s all that needs to happen to change the world. `

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