Saturday, April 4, 2015

As Love Evolves

Sometimes, when i'm lucky enough, I find myself at the exact right place at the exact right time for the world to show me something so beautiful that it sticks with me for always.

If you've never been to the fishing town of Leland, in Northern Michigan, then you are missing out on one of the few places i've been where I am absolutely sure magic still exists.  I don't know if I could tell you why, but there is an ethereal aura in this town that made me feel as though I belonged there.  I felt like I was in a dream that I didn't want to wake up from.

Mark and I were walking around the shore where all the old fishing shanties were turned into shops selling homemade novelties of all sorts to the tourists.  We split up at some point, and I found myself wandering into a clothing shop filled with an array of bohemian styled items that all seemed to scream my name.  Inside this shop were two young girls.  They were both so beautiful in the way they held themselves.  You could tell, just by looking at them, that neither had ever had their heart's broken before.  They were sisters, I assumed.  Each had shelled necklaces and sandy blonde hair that looked as if it worshipped the sun at every chance.  They had Taylor Swift's song, Fifteen, playing loudly over the speakers in the store.  The younger of the two girls was twirling through the racks of clothes as she hung up loose items, sashaying with the occasional hanger as she worked. As she sang the lyrics out loud you could hear her thoughts between every word shouting to the world that she simply could not wait until the day finally came that she would fall in love.  It made me smile inside so brightly and with such longing remembering exactly what it felt like to be that girl, to be that innocent, to be that open.

Her sister, the older of the two, was working the register.  She was also singing the words out loud in a beautiful voice, and she too had a story she was telling between the words she was singing, but hers was very different.  She was in love.  Every muscle on her face gave it away with that look that any woman whom has loved someone before would know.  She was in love, and she just knew it would last for all time.  This too made me nostalgic, for who doesn't remember how delightfully consuming it feels when falling in love for the first time?  I know I do.  I remember it well.

"Cause when you're fifteen, and someone tells you they love you, you're gonna believe them..."

The energy the two girls were omitting was so positive and so delightful that I found myself deep in thought for the rest of the day.  Isn't is so beautiful how love evolves throughout your life??  Isn't is so devastatingly breathtaking how we think we know what love is, something happens that burns that understanding down to nothing but ambers, leaving an even more beautiful understanding in it's place rising from the ashes?

When you are a small child, your understanding of love is completely selfish.  Most of us first experience it as the love we have for our parents and family.  We love them because they are our caregivers.  We love them because they protect us, love us, care for us, feed us, etc.  We love them because we need them, and that's ok.  We know nothing at this point of what that same love means to our family, our Dads, our Moms.

As you grow into adolescence, you begin to think of love in more of a romantic light.  As a girl, you dream of love, like the young girl in the shop that day.  Your ideas of love are so pure, honest, and full of hope.  You ideas of love are based on the parts of relationships you are allowed to see in your every day life, such as your parent's relationship.  They are based on movies, fairy tales, and TV. Your understanding of love has nothing to do with feeling, but of observation.

Then it happens.  Your first love, followed inevitably by your first heartbreak.  It's as though you've taken your first breath of oxygen only to have the wind knocked out of you before you can exhale on your own.  All your ideas of what love is or can be are shattered.  The fairy tales are thrown in the trash, and you think you can't go on.  You think you simply cannot live one more day without that person, with that person, on this roller coaster.  You are consumed, and it is crushing.

Then you move on...

You fall in and out of love a few more times, each time learning more about yourself.  You learn the art of compromise.  You learn that no one is perfect.  You learn that lust is love's evil twin and eventually start being able to tell the two apart.  You re-write your understanding.

Then you find the one...

You get married to the one person that you finally decide can make you happy for the rest of your life, and it's beautiful!!  It's magical!  However, you missed something when you were figuring it all out.  You missed one very, VERY important lesson.  You missed the part where someone else can never make you happy.  You are now learning that the only person that truly dictates your happiness... is you.  Your understanding of love comes crashing down around you in flames once again.  If this person cannot make YOU happy, then what is marriage?!!?  What is this!  Why are we...

Then it hits you.

Another rewrite of your understanding of love begins to piece together.  You must LOVE yourself.   And that person, that person you loved and married...well loving them has nothing to do with how happy they are going to make you...because they don't control that.  You do.  Loving them is something much more difficult.  Much more selfless.  Loving them means wanting to give yourself to them expecting nothing in return more than for them to continue being...them.

You hit this understanding...and then (at least in my experience) there is a peace.  There is a new bond formed better than any you ever thought possible.

Then it changes on more time.

You have this whole love thing figured out FINALLY, and then you have a child.

You're back at the beginning.  You are back at the pure, the honest, untainted love of your adolescence ... but it's more than that.  It is every single definition of love you've ever experienced, and then some.  It is all consuming, it is selfless, it is terrifying, and it suddenly makes sense.  You understand, for the first time, what it feels like to truly love expecting nothing in return.

I had Benny with me in that shop that day.  As I held him, and felt the energy around me omitting from the two lovely ladies, I wanted so badly to let them in on the secrets I have learned so as to potentially protect them from all the heartbreaking between where they are and where I am.  I wanted to let them know that that all of those emotions and tears they will experience have a purpose, a vision.  I just wanted them to know that it will be hard, but it will be worth it.

I walked back out of that shop with a smile on my face and a swelled up heart.  I am so blessed to have known love on so many levels in my life, but I am even more blessed to know it as I have it today.  I am thankful for each and every heartbreak, each and every lesson, and each and every understanding along the way.

As I walked back to my car with my husband and child, I softly sang to myself...

"And when your fifteen, don't forget to love before you fall
I've found time can heal most anything
And you just might find who you're supposed to be
I didn't know who I was supposed to be
at Fifteen"

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Would love to hear your thought, comments, advice, or emotional outbursts!

-xoxo Jamie