when maya angelou said “have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
When you break something, you must study the pattern of the shattering before you can piece it back together.
Akwaeke Emezi, Freshwater
The thing is that we have this idea that everything can be taught, everything can be taught in school. And it’s not true that everything can be taught. In fact, the most interesting things cannot be taught.
“The way human beings speak is so heartbreaking to me—we never sound the way we want to sound. We’re always stopping ourselves in mid–sentence because we’re so terrified of saying the wrong thing. Speaking is a kind of misery. And I guess I comfort myself by finding the rhythms and accidental poetry in everyone’s inadequate attempts to articulate their thoughts. We’re all sort of quietly suffering as we go about our days, trying and failing to communicate to other people what we want and what we believe.”
Usually we imagine that true love will be intensely pleasurable and romantic, full of love and light. In truth, true love is all about work. The poet Rainer Maria Rilke wisely observed: “Like so much else, people have also misunderstood the place of love in my life, they have made it into play and pleasure because they thought that play and pleasure was more blissful than work; but there is nothing happier than work, and love, just because it is the extreme happiness, can be nothing else but work …” The essence of true love is mutual recognition – two individuals seeing each other as they really are. We all know that the usual approach is to meet someone we like and put our best self forward, or even at times a false self, one we believe will be more appealing to the person we want to attract. When our real self appears in its entirety, when they good behaviour becomes too much to maintain or the masks are taken away, disappointment comes. All too often individuals feel, after the fact – when feelings are hurt and hearts are broken – that it was a case of mistaken identity, that the loved one is a stranger. They saw what they wanted to see rather than what was really there.
True love is a different story. When it happens, individuals usually feel in touch with each other’s core identity. Embarking on such a relationship is frightening precisely because we feel there is no place to hide. We are known. All the ecstasy that we feel emerges as this love nurtures us and challenges us to grow and transform. Describing true love, Eric Butterworth writes: “True love is a peculiar kind of insight through which we see the wholeness which the person is – at the same time totally accepting the level on which he now expresses himself – without any delusion that the potential is a present reality. True love accepts the person who now is without qualifications, but with a sincere and unwavering commitment to help him achieve his goals of self-unfoldment – which we may see better than he does.” Most of the time, we think that love means just accepting the other person as they are. Who among us has not learned the hard way that we cannot change someone, mold them and make them into the ideal beloved we might want them to be. Yet when we commit to true love, we are committed to being changed, to being acted upon by the beloved in a way that enables us to be more fully self-actualised. This commitment to change is chosen. It happens by mutual agreement. Again and again in conversations the most common vision of true love I have heard shared was one that declared it to be “unconditional.” True love is unconditional, but to truly flourish it requires an ongoing commitment to constructive struggle and change.
Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
To recognize each person’s individual capacities for endurance is, I think, one way in which we can create a world that relies more on generosity than judgment. In what ways can we recognize the race we are each running, on our own separate tracks that have no specific shapes, where there is no such thing as time, no such thing as an Olympic record? It is the exactness of time that destroys us. It is the way time has been commodified. It is the how-much-can-you-fit-in. It is the way, when you begin talking about how much you can do or how much you can consume, you begin to think of how to alter yourself so that you can do and consume more.