The most epic love story I know—first hand, eye witness, felt it—was that of Simone and Martin. They met, they mated for life. Tragically, only 18 years later, Martin passed away, but not before forever changing the landscape of love…for me.
Unless they devolve into tragedies, love stories in retrospect have the tendency to feel and sound corny like a 1980s movie with a scratchy soundtrack, but the real thing has a decidedly genuine quality that lacks sentimentality and yet explodes with emotion.
Cue the scratchy soundtrack for just a moment…Simone and Martin never had a cross word between them. They never slept apart from the very day they met. They positively radiated, and if you were having the worst day of your life and you spent five minutes in their company, possibility replaced woe and you’d find clarity exactly when you needed it most.
Yesterday I got slammed on Facebook for saying that counter protestors at white supremacy rallies are decent, moral people. I was called a troll, naïve, un-American, communist and a whore—in one fell swoop. To be honest, none of these appellations seems particularly offensive to me except the troll part and that’s only because my posts are not off topic. If they’re inflammatory, so be it. I think Nazis and the KKK and racists and anti Semites and people who are filled with hate for people who are not like them are the lowest, most vile waste of opposable thumbs in the universe.
I’m not sure you can love the hate out of someone anymore than you can beat the naughty out of a recalcitrant child. In my personal experience it certainly seems that violence begets violence and hatred begets hatred, so how do we change the world? How do we remain loving in the face of so much abject, unsolicited hatred? Simone and Martin’s love story provides the key.
After the initial wow of observing the most loving people on the globe I started paying attention to the how of them. Every single thing they did, whether together or apart (which was rare as they were almost always found in pairdom), was predicated on a really basic principal; love is the motivation for the action.
Naiveté is not something with which I am generally credited, so I don’t expect I can change or influence haters by virtue of my loving thoughts, but I can disengage from exchanges that don’t move the dial for either side. I can choose to fill the vacuum with positivity because, according to what I have learned from my dear friends Simone and Martin, that should generate more goodness—more love.
Simone and Martin made a choice every minute of every day to base every single thing they did…on love, and what that begat was simply more love until eventually it was like breathing—it required no forethought. It poured from them and floated out into the world where, if you were observant, you’d see it wash over everyone around them; we smiled more, hugged it out, were kind to one another.
Martin left us way too soon. Simone continues to electrify the space around her with her light and her love. And now, so many years after meeting them, I think I finally understand how to do it. The trick is gonna be in the practice.
To love will be different for everyone, which in and of itself will require coming from a place of love in order to accept. We needn’t suspend reality or common sense. We don’t have to tolerate haters, bigots or assholes. All that’s necessary for being a light instead of the opposite of light is the genuine desire to root all our decisions in love. When we do that suspicion and fear evaporate, and what is the basis for hatred but wariness of people who are different from us, and the uneasiness we feel when we don’t understand those differences?
When a person acts from love the world truly becomes a better place. How frickin’ simple is that.
This week I truly say it like I mean it, I loves ya.
We have been recently admonished by our president that memorials to figures of the Confederacy are merely part of our “cultural history,” and why on earth would anyone wish to erase that? Oh, I don’t know. You won’t find a single statue of Hitler or Mengele anywhere in Germany and there’s a place whose cultural history goes back centuries farther than the American experience. The holocaust still looms large in the universal hippocampus, and yet the Germans don’t salute the losing side of history and decency with likenesses of the biggest assholes the world has ever known. I think we can honor history, pay heed to it and possibly even learn a few things without casting the villains in bronze. After all, it’s Jesus we see wherever Christianity is sold—not the Romans who crucified him.
Perhaps, as with most things, what we need to do is bring the discussion home—down to a personal level that makes it easier to digest. I will start with myself.
I have lost battles and I have lost wars and like the proud sons and daughters of the Confederacy, I am still standing. Of course I was humbled, educated, embarrassed, horrified, cowed and spanked by my losses so the last thing I would want to do is erect any sort of monument to my greatest blunder/s.
My first divorce lawyer lead me into battle like we were gonna land a few solid body blows up front, which would guaranty in the long run I’d own D Day. Although my lawyer was, on paper, a far better qualified human to practice jurisprudence (and spell it) than my husband’s drinking buddy, it is never wise to underestimate functionally illiterate degenerate alcoholics.
We strode into battle suited up with motions, depositions, statements and affidavits. They staggered in with the dumb luck of zombie barflies and waltzed out with the good china that was a wedding gift from my friends, which was soon thereafter sold to purchase lap dances at a strip club on Milwaukee’s south side.
Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, whose own relatives want his bronzes taken down across the South, once famously said, “I am more afraid of alcohol than of all the bullets of the enemy.” He may have been an asshole, but it turns out he was a smarter asshole than my attorney. Neither deserves a place outside (or inside) a courthouse.
So rather than “erasing history,” which is what our president says is the result of removing the statues, let’s take the statues down and commemorate the cultural history they represent by, oh, I don’t know, putting shit in a history book perhaps. What, it’s already there? Get out!
I guess you’d need to read books, or have read them, in order to appreciate that they contain slightly more depth than television news and whatever malarkey you find on the internet. When someone has taken the time to write a book, a history book in particular, a tremendous amount of research has been done so that the book contains something known as facts.
Many people question facts because they do not want to believe, for example, that the world is round or that Adam and Eve did not saddle up and ride a T Rex to their wedding.
Doubting that something is real does not change the realness of that thing no matter how badly you want it to be something else, like the truth. We laughed when Dubya said “truthiness.” Today, he reads like a freakin’ genius.
In the case of history, where the facts are verifiable because of documents, relics, ruins, carbon dating and such, books are a super great place to acquire the knowledge you need in order to sound intelligent when you speak. Statues clearly do not give you that edge. Sure, there’s something big, cold and cunning in our version of monoliths—we’ve taken short, often chubby, usually pompous looking men and made them bigger than life, but a statue misleads just by virtue of its being a statue.
Who’d be stupid enough, the reasoning goes, to erect a monument to a loser?
Ask the living descendants of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and Jefferson Davis who are begging authorities to remove the statues of their respective relatives in every place they exist under the sun. No decent people want to be associated with slavery. It is a stain on their very own family history. What does that say about the people who think the statues stand for American culture?
I write this on my birthday—a day that usually passes with special wishes and bedazzled cards from close friends and family, but that goes otherwise quietly into the good night. I am not complaining. Like most recognized days (yes, I consider my birthday a national holiday if only in my own mind) I think the celebration and silliness is mostly for children, but something strange happened this year that has changed the way I look at celebration, family, friends and love.
When I see a Facebook post telling me it is someone’s birthday, and that someone is someone I don’t really know—part of the extended “Facebook family’ comprised in part of complete strangers—I feel compelled to send a personalized birthday wish, but I always wonder if the recipient will think I’m a stalker. Am I being presumptuous, too friendly when I send my wishes for joy, happiness, hugs, kisses, loving, dancing, sexiness and glee? Then I throw caution to the wind and send it anyway. If anyone thinks I’m weird they can chalk it up to me being a writer, which lets me off the hook on lots of behaviors other people consider inappropriate.
Today I am on the receiving end of a truckload of good will, generosity, silliness, joy, intimacy and friendship and it makes me feel…like I’m suspended in an enveloping sea of warm Velveeta—floating in gooey, convivial bliss. I am deeply charmed.
It’s an amazing feeling to know that people with much better things to do spent the time to write a birthday greeting. Ok, it takes a few seconds, but that isn’t the point. Each person who wrote me had to overcome the same trepidation that I do when I send a note to a “stranger.” Then they sent it anyway. To be a warm, generous, giving human was more important than whatever opinion or reaction it might elicit from me. They went balls out in the brotherly/sisterly love department. If only the whole world could catch that cold.
The past couple of years people have taken the unusual step of insulting one another in an openly hostile and reprehensible manner—total strangers calling others every version of “’tard,” an offensive term no matter how you decorate it, telling one another they’re stupid, not worthy to live, deserve to be shot and the ever popular, “then move to Canada.” (I will never understand this as invective since with said move one would be that much closer to a calendar-worthy world leader.)
Amid all that nastiness and vitriol, the birthday wishes for happiness, fun and love stand out like Bjork. The gleeful emojis, exclamation points, hearts, flowers, dancing monkeys and balloons erase the nastiness spattered across my daily feed, and remind me there is infinitely more love in the world than not.
So here’s my thought: if we can take the time to put aside our differences for the moment it takes to write a birthday wish on FB, then doesn’t that show we have the capacity to tone down the ugly in favor of the beautiful? All it takes is NOT writing something horrid no matter how sincerely we believe we are right and the other person is a drooling Neanderthal.
Each time my phone dings with the news that there’s another post, my heart sings like a whistling cockatiel—all those people spreading a little message of love today. Happy birthday to me! And thank you.
Every day I receive several emails trying to sell me books, webinars, seminars and workshops promising to teach me how I can change my life, my appearance, the way I eat, sleep and love, which begs the question of why I am being targeted by these ads. I feel like hitting reply and asking, ‘What have you heard?’
Admittedly, some of these “programs” pique my interest because frankly who wouldn’t want the giblets and jowls of a 20 year old without invasive surgery? But like the Nigerian nationals who have asked for my help in getting their $millions into the U.S., I much fear all these efforts to make me younger, smarter, thinner, taller and with super sexed up cavewoman blood coursing through my veins are a sham.
The most recent solicitation promised to show me the ways in which I could ferret out, stalk and bag any man I wanted. (It was phrased differently.) The protocol was simple enough. I’d have to change every single thing about myself. Then it occurred to me that even if I did all that I still wasn’t going to “share an intimate relationship” with Justin Trudeau, George Clooney or Kevin Hart (let’s face it, funny is every bit as sexy as sexy) unless by intimate what they meant to say was imaginary, in which case, sure, it could happen.
My curiosity got the best of me and I bought a book on how to repel a man just enough to make him want me. According to the author, men only want what they can’t have, so if you become just the right amount of repellant you should theoretically be able to snare a live one. The trick is walking the fine line between acceptably loathsome and outright disgusting. I’ve never been good with the fine points, so I don’t expect great results when I “lovingly insult him into submission.” I would expect to be shown the door and told to go fuck myself.
Why are we so desperate to change? I can’t think of a soul who doesn’t have days where she’d rather be…different, but does that mean she really wants to change the most basic things about the way she operates? I’ve made my share of blunders and if I could have even one do-over I’d really make it count (I’d halve the number of times I’ve been married, for example), but we don’t get leprechaun second chances and turbo time machines in real life. What we get are life lessons, which hopefully provide some sort of counter balance for future endeavors so that the next time a man says “I’m an asshole” we take him at his word and cheetah ourselves right out of his apartment.
I talk a lot about developing habits to make us nicer, kinder, more compassionate beings and yet when it comes to intimate relationships many of us are all thumbs and Groundhog Day. In any other scenario, like touching a molten cast iron skillet, we learn from being burned pretty much the first time it happens. Not so with love. Lust. Sex. Flourless chocolate cake. No matter the cost in calories or heartache, we go back for more seemingly unbothered by our own historical context. What is that?
My theory is that deep down we do love ourselves, and the thought of trying to shoe horn all that we are into a size smaller Loubie is repugnant. There is a special indignation I feel when someone tells me if I were only to refrain from cussing, get a job that doesn’t intimidate a man and stop dressing like I still live in L.A. then I would attract a decent guy. What I would attract is a guy who should be going after a woman who vaguely resembles me, but who doesn’t swear like a sailor, write like a motherfucker or enjoy surfing.
I think there’s nothing wrong with self-improvement, but the key here is the word self. If we lose that which is uniquely us—be it cockeyed optimism, hopeless romantic notions, a propensity for infatuation or simply being a lovable dufus, then we’re not self improving; we’re pretending to be someone else.
How many times have we met someone who seems like a good match—sincere, forthright, funny and kind only to discover he is rude to waiters, cheats at golf and loves his car more than his mom? We wonder how we got suckered in, why we didn’t see it from the start, how we could have been so blind. I’ll tell ya – dude pretended to be another version of himself in order to bag some lady goodness.
Absent from my inbox are tutorials on how to love myself more, better. Imagine if we all walked out the door tomorrow morning feeling invincible—not reminding ourselves to walk taller, eat less, smile more and for godssake don’t intimidate. The female self-improvement industrial complex is nefarious and for purely monetary reasons encourages us to view one another critically so that eventually we turn the prism on ourselves and then feed the kitty by buying into all the crap that has been manufactured to make us feel insecure in the first place.
I hate to burst any bubbles, but it is possible that there isn’t a lid for every pot, and maybe personal satisfaction, growth, achievement and happiness aren’t really predicated on cookware at all. Maybe you get all that stuff by simply loving and believing in your own unique quirky weird little self. Wouldn’t that be something? Vive liberte!