And just like that, the month of January is gone.
When I stay away from the internet for extended periods of time, it’s usually because I have a lot going on in my non-virtual life – most of it good – and this month has been no exception.
In addition to kicking off the spring semester with a satisfying roster of classes, I’ve been to two very interesting meetings inside of a month: the bee workshop I mentioned in my last post, and more recently, the annual meetings of the Missouri Natural Resources Conference.
The other thing that’s sucked up my time, in a not-so-pleasant fashion, is the political situation of our beloved nation. For me, keeping track of the news has been like watching a thousand fires light up across a dry landscape. Every. Single. Day. If only I had more water…
But I don’t want to talk about any of that today.
The question most on my mind of late is whether it’s possible for the heart to heal – truly heal – after suffering bitter disappointment. Do we get stronger from the fall, as so many claim, or do we just learn to cover up one pit before tumbling unwittingly into another? Does the promise of new love bring joy or just distraction? Are joy and distraction essentially the same thing, twin pills that merely lessen the pain without ever erasing its source?
Over past month, I’ve engaged in a conscientious effort to let go of the past and better embrace the future. At times, the effort feel good and right, exciting, even. At other times, I just want to crawl back into my shell and tell everyone to go away.
I harbor a deep desire to laugh and be lighthearted again, to play in the sun like I remember doing, back in a time when I had faith in people – or, rather, a certain person and a particular vision of my future.
But just as desire for levity succeeds in asserting itself, I have a dream or memory; I see a place we used to enjoy or hear a voice that reminds me of him. I wake up and realize today is a date that was important for us as a couple, and my heart goes tumbling back into that pit.
The demon I battle is an irrational fear, but not of being alone. On the contrary, I find a lot of safety and comfort in the thought of being alone. No situation meets my expectations with such satisfying precision as being alone.
What I do fear is this: Being together and then being alone. I fear love followed by separation, whether by choice or circumstance or some combination of both. Having suffered through that agony once, I don’t ever want to face the possibility again.
Yet I must face it, if I ever want to love. And for better or worse, I am a creature driven toward love. In a way, it’s the cruelest of miracles, this situation I find myself in; a desire that beats me down with memories even as it pushes me forward with hope.
I don’t know where all this will lead. All I know is that for the first time in a long time, I’m searching for one more bright plain. A picturesque mountain. A verdant forest. A city of elves, even.
All of Middle Earth is not orcs and caverns, after all. There’s the Shire and Rivendel and Rohan. There’s the Emerald City…
Oops. Sorry! That’s another story. But it still works. Love can’t be all tornadoes and flying monkeys and fake wizards. Once in a while there are ruby slippers and a dance down the yellow brick road. Sweet dreams in fields of poppies. A scarecrow with a brain.
A tin man with a heart.
A lion who has found his courage.