Floating On

I nestled my chin into my jacket as the cold air whipped against my skin on my bike ride to work, when I saw him out of the corner of my eye.  He was making his way to the office in the opposite direction.  Despite all our failings and my better judgement I could not help but wonder why our paths continued to cross.  I looked away because I couldn’t stare rejection in the eyes, because I was scared.  So I squinted with intent focus and felt my legs go weak with heaviness, as I softly whispered to myself just keep going.  Once the figure had passed in my periphery I let out a sigh of relief, and everything became easier: movement, breath and being.

Rejection was behind me and I could move forward.

As I approached the pedestrian bridge I  shifted my path around a pickup truck.  I watched as men with large steel toed boots and offensively orange jackets closed the blades of their industrial cutters around the fragile necks of the secured locks that adorned the bridges rails.  Orange jackets and armoured men nonchalantly breaking commitments pledged by strangers.  They worked with a detachment and finality that could cut through more than metal.  As I rode by, I slowed, sensing their purpose was larger than the assignment of lightening the bridge.  They were making space for new love.

I looked down and I saw the ducks.  They bobbed as the water drifted them downstream, currents keeping them together or bringing them further away from the others around them.  They surrendered themselves to the waters and spun along with the flow, wanting nothing more or less than to be, and to move on.

I suppose it’s time to focus my eyes on the road ahead, find some protective gear, and let the river take me where it chooses.

Uncomplicating Love

I often rant that the world used to be simpler. That without the Internet, smartphones, and paper towels, love was easier, as if human interactions have become more complex alongside the evolution of our tools.

I think this theory was a product of my millennial ego, my tendency to overthink everything in life and my desire to explicate and justify my loneliness. In my defence, it also seemed this way on television. In old films a handsome fellow would catch the gaze of a pretty girl at a dance, they would spend months going to the movies, meeting each other’s family’s and giggling over ice cream before he asked for her hand in marriage. They would spend a lifetime together making babies, cooking meat pie and doting over their grandchildren. Their love would waver, but never die; it would be challenged, but never fail. There was an attitude of persistence in love. That persistence, combined with a sense of faith in love, made bonds unbreakable, made ecstasy irrelevant and made questioning dangerous.

I have now realized that this sense of nostalgia is a fiction I created to appease my loneliness. Love is love, people are people, values may have shifted, but everyday I build my own reality. I built the false narrative — with the help of TV and movies, and millennial things — that love is extremely complicated and that when I feel it, I will feel it viscerally. When I experience real love the framing of my world will change, small blue cartoon birds will follow me around and I will dance to a song that only I can hear in the middle of the day in a crowded place. Not only will I feel the shift, but the whole world will respond and my life will never be the same again. This is a world where love is a chemical reaction that requires an exact measure of many different elements in order to catalyze the perfect result.

This myth of real or true love is dangerous. Particularly, in the context of the current information explosion, which has exposed us to worlds that we didn’t know we wanted, products we didn’t know we needed and displays of love that make us feel inadequate. We live in a world where no one buys toothpaste without researching all the brands and the effects of whitening properties. We want to know everything about everything and we want to know that we have the best.

This is an attitude that has set us up to fail at love.

In order to succeed at love we must first demystify its supernatural qualities. Not to develop a cynical approach, but instead to have a sense of realism about what love looks like on a day-to-day basis. This process of injecting reality into our views on love will also help us develop more faith in love. We must also dispel the culture of scarcity around love. The idea that it is ‘once in a lifetime’ or that it involves finding a ‘soul mate’ puts us into the chaotic search for a needle in a stack of hay, only the needle has been transformed by a warlock to look exactly like a piece of hay. It’s frantic, it’s impossible, and it will result in the hunter feeling exasperated, desperate and alone.

Here are some things to consider when taking stock of your views on relationships: What expectations do you have when it comes to the experience of falling in love? What sort of pressure do you place on yourself and on your potential partner around living up to standards of love and relationships? Whose standards are you using to measure your relationship success? Are you constantly questioning your relationship or wondering if there are better options out there?

Reflect on these questions and remind yourself that in love there is no best. You can’t research your way to the answer, and there is no perfect endgame. The reality is we are all just living in entropy. Nothing is perfect, and no relationship can be written as a chemical equation. It may not look the way you expect. It will not be perfect. The perfect one may pass you by.

When you are able to accept this, you will open yourself up to love. Love is no more complicated or simple than it ever was in history. It is as easy or as difficult as we make it. Once you start thinking about love as something that can be felt and experienced everywhere and with anyone, finding love becomes a far less stressful experience and a much simpler one. You need to accept that your partner will not fill every space in your life and that it is okay to also seek different forms of support and connection from friends and family outside of your relationship. When you stop questioning and searching for the best or better in love, you will find satisfaction and happiness. If you cherish every experience of love or almost-love for what it is, and you constantly seek more of it in your life then you will find bounty.

In its essence love is simple and plentiful, so long as we continue to view it as such and fill our lives with it we will be happy, full and satisfied.

Potential Energy

I feel all the potential energy of the world crowded up inside my heart like the potential energy of a leaf falling from the height of a cloud.  How at the top it is light but when it lands the whole world will shake.  All of the what ifs and could haves are settled inside of me, building up energy from being contained.  They sit there waiting to fall.

Photography by Ileana Skakun: https://unsplash.com/search/heart?photo=dNjMqj4emkc

You are Love

Putting pen to paper
I bring life and shape
To this void
Sending a message
As old as time
I am reassured
That those who need it
Will hear it
You are kind
You are loved
You are needed
That is my purpose
That is my pride
That is my work
Messages of love
And notes of solidarity
Sent into the ether
To be grabbed by those
Who hear then
Feel them
Need them
It’s my love letter
To the world.

Mother

Sitting here watching 
the birds resting on the rocks 
the rocks nestled in the water
the water kissing the shores
the shores leaning on the mountains
the mountains reaching for the sky
the sky holding the clouds
the clouds cushioning the sun

how beautiful this world is 
how fortunate I am to be on it

with my feet grounded in the earth 
I too am resting on the rocks
nestled in the water
kissing the shores
leaning on the mountains
reaching for the sky
cushioned by the clouds
brought to life by the sun

she is the strongest force 
of unconditional love
mother earth

in her presence I am never alone.

The Thing Is

The thing about you is that
You're a runner
Your legs are long and spindly
And your body built for moving fast
You have no patience, no time
For slowing down and staying a while

Which is why when you turned on your pillow
Looked me in the eyes and said
"I really really really like you"
I knew you had fallen fast
But that you may never fall deep

The thing about us is that 
We were only ever in passing
Our story was a treat
You wanted to keep tasting
Because it was so sweet
But it would never keep us full

The thing about me is that
I don't know if I'll ever be full
I have a deepness inside 
That may be infinite
I'm not sure because I have yet to find the bottom

So the thing is
This was never meant to be
But it still means something to me.

Stage

It’s 9:40am on a Sunday morning at the train station.

Beside me there’s a woman seated in the waiting area huddled around a pizza box. Her face is not within view, it is inside the box, ravenously consuming the slices; her head is bowed in shame. It seems as though she is committing a most intimate act and is trying not to draw attention towards herself.

Across from me, there’s a mother caring for her autistic son, while her daughter slaps her with resentment. The mother kindly turns to look him in the eye and says “Mathew would you like some food” he makes a groaning noise back, which she knows how to interpret much better than I. “Are you sure, you don’t want an egg sandwich?” “Groan.”   The mother makes a scathing remark about her husband and how useless he is. The daughter responds with “If you don’t care, then why the heck did you bring him” pointing to her brother, “you paid for everything hotel, show, everything, why, what’s the point?”

Next to me, there are two men in their mid-twenties moaning in agony over headaches that will not abate and musings over last nights affairs. One of them pulls up a half-naked photo of a woman on his phone and points it to the other and they chuckle together, sharing a pat on the back, and proudly celebrating their conquests.

I am sitting here watching, and listening to the performance.

There is another man a few seats over. He is in his late twenties with circular glasses framing his green almond eyes, red pants to match his red shoes, an old-fashioned button-up wool vest and a bowler hat. He is feverishly typing away on his computer. Perhaps he is writing about the sad uninteresting-looking girl who is a few seats down and seems transfixed to her phone. I depressingly wonder about the words that are going into writing my story.

I suppose “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.”

Twinkles

The skyline is lit up like the stars it hides. So instead of looking up we are looking forward.  Instead of staring with our heads tilted wondering about humans’ place in the world and the vastness of the universe, we marvel at our own work and the vastness of ourselves.

We are disillusioned.  We are so small. If you need proof, think of all the lights you cannot see, the ones that find their home beyond our world. Not the ones stitched together with bricks and mortar and illuminated by electricity. Think of the stars.

When I see the buildings twinkle, I know they are only the charm of an imposter. They’re winking at us. Pleased and proud, like the fraudulent jeweller, they have us fooled.

Fog

I woke up in a fog, a mugginess caused by the collision of reality and fantasy. Outside, the warm and cool airs met to suspend tiny water droplets in the sky. Inside what were suspended were my memories, floating around me, taunting me, fooling me. It had felt so real, having his hands around me again, giggling at his sarcastic remark, feeling full, and feeling loved. As my eyes focused beyond the clouds I saw the day I had spread before me, and saw his absence in it. I stood myself up and walked downstairs, because it was expected, necessary, because there seemed to be no other option than to learn to live with this blank space.

Recipe for a Girl

I came home for the weekend, it was my first year of University and I was stressed, anyone could see it. It was difficult to conceal my pores had reacted to my clogged up brain by clogging up themselves. My facial expression was constantly concerned, resembling that of a maniac. My movements were erratic and always rushed, and my eyes were sunken into a face that had lost all of its roundness and no longer portrayed the innocence of plush cheeks and wide bright eyes that I had once been praised for. Now I was skeletal. Everything extraneous, the pieces that made up the essence of my former self had been sacrificed. My mother saw me and my look of concern was reflected in her eyes, it was her overwhelming anxiety and narrative of the “worry list” that had developed my perpetual unease. She knew that this was the person she would be greeting when I phoned her last night with a wavering and frustrated voice.

She began describing all the medicine that she had been preparing since I had hung up the phone the night before. “Here, I have butternut squash soup, which I know is your favourite, and I made quinoa and roasted vegetables. And I know you haven’t been eating meat but I made some beef stew because you need to make sure you are getting enough protein, but I also made some lentil burgers in case you don’t want the meat. There’s brownies and ice cream for desert and I bought your favourite type of popcorn. The soup is actually a new recipe, I found it online….” And so it went on, while I silently screamed for help, she continued on in the only way she knew how, presenting me with what I hated the most, the substances that shackled me. Food was my oppressor and her way of showing love.

She never said anything about my size, weight or appearance. She only spoke in the measurements of recipes. She never knew that I was stricken, starving, causing myself such damage. She never asked. Instead, she gave me pies.

She understood pies, in order to create them successfully you just needed to follow the directions, obey the amounts and the stirring tactics and sure enough you would create the expected and satisfying product. With her daughter she had also followed the recipe: help her with her homework, push her to get straight A’s, keep her from risky situations, and be sure she never defies you or authority. She had done everything right, worked to mould the perfect little girl, but the soufflé fell.

So she turned away and kept to the recipes she understood.