“If you’re listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; it’s purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever more wonders.” ~ Andrew Harvey

                       

“Basically, the only thing we need is a hand that rests on our own, that wishes it well, that sometimes guides us.” ~ Hector Bianciotti

Monday afternoon. Unseasonably warm and sunny. Valentine’s Day.

This is not going to be a post about Valentine’s Day, nothing about rampant commercialism, no statements regarding overpriced flowers for which guilty lovers shell out copious amounts of cash in attempts to be in good graces, no judgments about how gift receivers subconsciously compare their own presents to those received by co-workers, competitor’s for the heart’s affection, or past presents from former paramours, no morality lessons on how we should love one another each and every day, say so often and earnestly and not wait for a marketing ploy to make overtly romantic gestures.

Not going to do it. Have done it before.

Besides, for those of you not up on your mythology, Cupid’s great love affair with Psyche was fraught with jealousy (his mother, her sisters), secrecy (she was forbidden to see him), drudgery (three of the four great trials Aphrodite set for Psyche),  peril (Psyche’s task to go to the underworld supposedly to steal a box of Persephone’s beauty cream), vanity and insecurity (Psyche opens the box in an attempt to make herself more beautiful to Cupid), and finally, bargaining (Cupid appeals to Zeus to restore his stricken love).

Of course, mustn’t forget the story’s coda: the vengeful mother-in-law (Aphrodite) who changes her tune once her beautiful grandchild is born: Pleasure.

In other words, the path to true love is not strewn with rose petals.

It takes hard work, trust, respect, compromise, forgiveness, devotion, and romance more than once a year. It also means knowing when to hold your peace even when not doing so might feel better momentarily (I’m talking about picking your battles, here).

And (take heed on this one) it means developing a keen sense for when your partner needs some basic TLC: encouragement, understanding and unconditional loyalty—I’m not talking about the kind your dog gives you; I’m talking about being able to mean it when you say, “You are great at your job, and your boss doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s lucky to have you.” Or, “No. You don’t look the way you looked when we got married; you look better, if that’s even possible.” Or this one: “Oh that woman over there? I was only noticing how her skin-tight black leather pants make her look really hippy. You would look so much better in those.”

Who of us doesn’t need that once in a while?

“My heart is full of so many things to say to you—ah—there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all.” ~ Beethoven from the “Immortal Beloved” letters

Vintage Wedding Bands and Poesy Rings

When writing about love, few things compare to Ludwig von Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved” letters of 1812:

July 6, in the morning
      My angel, my all, my very self—Only a few words today and at that with pencil (with yours)—Not till tomorrow will my lodgings be definitely determined upon—what a useless waste of time—Why this deep sorrow when necessity speaks —can our love endure except through sacrifices, through not demanding everything from one another; can you change the fact that you are not wholly mine, I not wholly thine—Oh God, look out into the beauties of nature and comfort your heart with that which must be—Love demands everything and that very justly—thus it is to me with you, and to your with me. But you forget so easily that I must live for me and for you; if we were wholly united you would feel the pain of it as little as I—My journey was a fearful one; I did not reach here until 4 o’clock yesterday morning. Lacking horses the post-coach chose another route, but what an awful one; at the stage before the last I was warned not to travel at night; I was made fearful of a forest, but that only made me the more eager—and I was wrong. The coach must needs break down on the wretched road, a bottomless mud road. Without such postilions as I had with me I should have remained stuck in the road. Esterhazy, traveling the usual road here, had the same fate with eight horses that I had with four—Yet I got some pleasure out of it, as I always do when I successfully overcome difficulties—Now a quick change to things internal from things external. We shall surely see each other soon; moreover, today I cannot share with you the thoughts I have had during these last few days touching my own life—If our hearts were always close together, I would have none of these. My heart is full of so many things to say to you— ah—there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all—Cheer up—remain my true, my only treasure, my all as I am yours. The gods must send us the rest, what for us must and shall be—
Your faithful LUDWIG

Evening, Monday, July 6
      You are suffering, my dearest creature—only now have I learned that letters must be posted very early in the morning on Mondays to Thursdays—the only days on which the mail-coach goes from here to K.—You are suffering—Ah, wherever I am, there you are also—I will arrange it with you and me that I can live with you. What a life!!! thus!!! without you—pursued by the goodness of mankind hither and thither—which I as little want to deserve as I deserve it—Humility of man towards man—it pains me—and when I consider myself in relation to the universe, what am I and what is He—whom we call the greatest—and yet— herein lies the divine in man—I weep when I reflect that you will probably not receive the first report from me until Saturday— Much as you love me—I love you more—But do not ever conceal yourself from me—good night—As I am taking the baths I must go to bed—Oh God—so near! so far! Is not our love truly a heavenly structure, and also as firm as the vault of heaven?

Good morning, on July 7
      Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us—I can live only wholly with you or not at all—Yes, I am resolved to wander so long away from you until I can fly to your arms and say that I am really at home with you, and can send my soul enwrapped in you into the land of spirits—Yes, unhappily it must be so—You will be the more contained since you know my fidelity to you. No one else can ever possess my heart—never—never—Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves. And yet my life in V is now a wretched life—Your love makes me at once the happiest and the unhappiest of men—At my age I need a steady, quiet life—can that be so in our connection? My angel, I have just been told that the mail coach goes every day—therefore I must close at once so that you may receive the letter at once—Be calm, only by a calm consideration of our existence can we achieve our purpose to live together—Be calm—love me—today—yesterday—what tearful longings for you—you—you—my life—my all—farewell. Oh continue to love me—never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved.
ever thine
ever mine
ever ours

                    

Music by Bon Jovi (still love this man), “Want to Make a Memory”

                      

Perhaps not to be is to be without your being

Perhaps not to be is to be without your being,
without your going, that cuts noon light
like a blue flower, without your passing
later through fog and stones,
without the torch you lift in your hand
that others may not see as golden,
that perhaps no one believed blossomed
the glowing origin of the rose,
without, in the end, your being, your coming
suddenly, inspiringly, to know my life,
blaze of the rose-tree, wheat of the breeze:
and it follows that I am, because you are:
it follows from ‘you are’, that I am, and we:
and, because of love, you will, I will,
We will, come to be.

~ Pablo Neruda

“I don’t believe in aging. I believe in forever altering one’s aspect to the sun.” ~ Virginia Woolf

                   

“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.” ~ Milan Kundera

The image reflects my essential reality.

The quotes echo the philosophy of my psyche.

The song captures my sentiments on my birthday.

Music by Sick Puppies, “That Time of Year”

My Own Worst Enemy

Same Song. Different Day

The Migraine that Ate Cleveland

I know that you’ve heard this lament before, but some days, it really is better not to get out of bed. I’m on the second day of a killer migraine, and it looks as if there will be no Obama rally for me tonight. My only solace is that we did make it to the Richmond rally last week; otherwise, I would be pulling myself into two sweaters, and double-dosing on the meds to go there, probably paying for it big time later tonight.

My Migraine (Balrog Image by Frank de Shacher)

This is one of those sound/light/smell sensitive, full-throttle migraines. I’m typing this with all of the lights off in my bedroom, after taking my meds about an hour ago. Not sure how long I’m going to last in this position, though. The wonderful thing about my huge screen is that it’s not only big, but I can also adjust the contrast ratio automatically, so right now I have it set lower than usual, which is also helpful.

Migraines are gnarly beasts. I can go weeks and weeks without a peep from these insidious monsters, and then without warning, they pounce. Granted, they are much better than they used to be, and I have no doubt that their (almost typed there for their, egads) lessening frequency is due in large part to my no longer having a full-time job. Overhead office lighting has long been a trigger for me, so I have always had lamps in my offices, and when I have been fortunate enough to have window offices, I have usually just worked with ambient light. It used to drive some of my bosses and co-workers crazy. They would make comments about not thinking that anyone was in my office and such. Whatever. It kept me from being in pain, which kept me in the office. You would have thought that they would have been happy . . .

But Words Live On Forever

But, I don’t have to worry about that any more. Do I? But of course, I still do. I still carry around with me all of the slings and arrows from years of negative comments from the workplace because in spite of my outward insistence on being such a hard-nosed, world-weary, seen-it-all, done-it-all, cynic, I am the exact opposite inside. Every harsh word, every criticism I took to heart, and it wounded me so, even when I tried so hard to be a bitch on the outside. You do realize, of course, that those of us who are so very certain and self-assured on the outside are the most insecure on the inside? At least, I have always found that to be the case for myself and my fellow blowhards.

I can remember harsh words from years ago. It’s not that I want to hold onto them. It’s that they are embedded in my psyche, echoing every time I make an error, mocking me. I am truly my own worst enemy. Years of friends and psychotherapy trying to patch my insecure ego have helped but not fixed the problem, which for me, began a lifetime ago.

I am an only child you see. Many people think that it would be wonderful to be an only, but trust me, in so many ways, it is not. While you benefit in material ways, the loneliness can be overpowering. I compensated by immersing myself in books and by being creative, but this did not prepare me to deal with other children, so by the time I went to school, I was not prepared to defend myself. The first time I was teased, I took it to heart and cried. Bad mistake. I had shown my weakness. It took months and months before I overcame, and by then, there was always the stigma of otherness about me.

And then, when we came back from England, I was enrolled in Little Creek School. I had a right proper British accent, a Filipino last name, and olive skin. Again, I was a gazelle waiting to be pounced on by the herd. It took a long time to learn the rules of this tribe and to toughen up, but again, I never quite fit in. My way of fitting in was always to stand out just enough to call attention to myself: surrender but with victory. And so, I always got A’s, got awards, joined clubs. Teachers loved me, and the cool kids hated me. It was great, but it sucked.

By the time I was 16, I was getting migraines. By the time I graduated when I was 17, I was already having symptoms of IBS. When I started working full-time at the newspaper when I was a freshman in college, my IBS was full blown. This is the price you pay when you are an overachiever and you internalize. This was the cycle that I started that continued throughout my entire work career: I volunteered for special events, extra shifts. I was in the newsroom before I was 20.  I was working full time, going to school full time, and already looking at life through jaded eyes. People commented that everything came easily to me. If only they knew how very untrue this was.

I worked for everything that I have achieved. I have my father to thank for instilling that work ethic in me. I know that I’ve written about my father numerous times, but truly, as far as working goes, he was amazing. Actually, both of my parents used to tell me something pretty progressive for the time: Never be dependent on anyone for your livelihood. Since neither of them had gone to college, they were going to make damned sure that I did, and I did. Changed majors several times, but I made it.

That Word

My, how I digressed. How did I end up talking so much about school? My point was actually about fitting in and the n-word. When we came back from England, a kid at school called me the n-word (I hate using that term, n-word, but I hate the word more). Truthfully, I had never heard the word before, so I went home and asked my mother what the word meant. She was outraged. She made me stand outside on the porch with her as the kids walked home from school and point out the child who had called me that. I did. She, as we like to call it in the South, lit into him like there was no tomorrow. As it turns out, this boy and I become really good friends and actually dated for a while. Neither one of us remembered the name-calling, but my mother did. She chalked it up to childhood stupidity. Personally, I’m glad that it’s one incident that I actually don’t remember other than through my mother’s retelling.

The point is, words hurt, and can even leave scars. Some people never let on that the words you are using are penetrating. Corey, who has felt my wrath at home before, has asked me why I never stood up for myself more at work. It’s a valid question. I think that it’s because I fight passionately with those with whom I have passion, him, for instance. Only one of my former bosses, who is no longer at my most recent job, actually saw my raw emotions, and that’s because I actually felt close enough to him to be honest enough with him to fight with him. Others with whom I do not feel enough respect, I do not engage. I know, I know. That’s my arrogance showing. Can’t help it.

As someone once said to me, “Life is too short to spend with people you do not like.” I really did not appreciate that quote until I got older and wiser. I have rambled on and on about much and nothing at all, but in the rambling, I have quieted my soul and now can rest.

More later. Peace.