Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Love Hard

So I am closing on my new house today.  After three years living in the "Friendship House," I will do what was originally intended and become a landlord, and to go on to (finally) a little more counter space, a few additional closets, and 1 3/4 bathrooms.  (I have a separate blog post drafted in my head about the meaning of this move, figuratively, emotionally, but will share that point another day.)

My daughters and I were going through the rooms quickly yesterday, taking pictures and measurements, anticipating what would go where, when Alicia got a text from Sean that there was an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

As details quickly surfaced, panic set in... I personally know literally dozens of friends running the race.  I love those people!  Were they all okay?  How bad was it all?  All the buzz of moving fell away as we scrambled to make calls, get word that folks were safe.

Thank God, by the end of the day, I was able to learn that all those runners I knew in Boston, and their families were fine.  I just prayed for all those hurt, or worse.

I was wide awake until after 4 a.m., writing emails and texts, sending notes of care and hugs of understanding to my friends.  It was all I could do at 4 a.m.

That's just me.  I love hard.  

Oh, but trust me, I am in no way accomplished at this loving thing.  It is actually my biggest failure in life.  Still I keep trying to do it better... and every day, I feel saddened to see that those I love just slip farther away, diluted into the depths of all we have "to do" and keep up every day.  Indeed, it is difficult to love in times like these, where people kill children and families and each other.  It is hard to witness.  It is hard to give of our real selves when there is so much to possibly lose.

Despite getting older and supposedly wiser, despite all the books I have read on the subject, and collecting schools of thought and opinions, I still cannot figure out men and their general lack of personal, emotional response.  Does it matter to you at all that I love you?  Or do you look at me like I am "crazy" at worst, or "needy" at best?  Do you turn away from me so you don't feel?  Is it easier to watch life happening in horrific two minute news clips which you can switch off if it all gets too graphic?

It's great we can all sit around on the internet and post caring thoughts to those we don't know who suffer traumas (seriously, really great we virtually "come together" in tough times)... but what of those you see at home every day?  Have you reached out today -- hugged them *for real* -- said "I love you" in person?

Unfortunately it seems, the more we are able to globally reach out to others, the less we personally exchange.  In fact, I do believe I feel more alone in my life now than I ever have -- even though Facebook tells me I have 751 friends!

Those who know me know I find great value in our various technologies of today.  I am on my computer probably 7 hours of every 8 hour work day, and cannot imagine what we did back in the day of solely land line phones and U.S. mail letters.  If I stretch my mind, I think I remember those days. 

That's one of the reasons I have chosen to live in Medina.  Folks ask me where my new house is, and I say, just across the Square from where I am living now.  We still have the idea of small town caring going on here, in our neighborhoods and small local businesses.  Eric next door mowed my lawn yesterday morning, not because I asked, but because he had the day off and was "glad to do it."  Bob, another neighbor, returned my bread pan and said thank you for the banana bread.  I noticed that Joe a few doors down had collected fallen tree limbs and piled them next to my back porch.  Friends of my daughters friends offered to help me move.  I walked Savanna home from work last night.  These are things we used to do, and still *can* do if we only make the time. 

So, you may look at me strangely when I hug every runner at races, finishing later because I walked a couple miles catching up with a friend.  You wonder where I get the time to send cards, or bake bread, or arrange flowers for gifts.  You are probably tired of hearing about my funny pet stories, and a little nauseous with seeing pictures of my daughters.  You may walk past my office during the work day and wonder why I sound like a counselor or a coach with my colleagues, why I tell them personal details, ask questions, listen.

Well, this is why.

Because though we cannot end hatred in the world, in our own community, we can contribute to kindness.  We have a choice every day to treat others with respect, to reach out first and risk rejection, but believe more in goodness and friendship.  It is unfortunate that acts of horrific violence get more news coverage and joining of forces than many acts of peace.
We cannot change "them" but we can make small changes within our own selves -- to lead with love, and accept love with open arms when it is given to us.

Unfortunately it takes a day like yesterday for the perspective to clear.... It's going to take a lot of pooled light to battle the growing darkness.

I hope you are with me:  love hard.

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