Love for Late Bloomers: Kissing the whole damn world.

{The lovers by Rene Magritte / Via Wikipaintings.org}

{The lovers by Rene Magritte / Via Wikipaintings.org}

“Though lovers be lost, love shall not; And death shall have no dominion.” ~ Dylan Thomas
I woke up in the middle of the night last night and realized that in the end, everything — every experience, every choice, every mistake — is about love.

There is nothing else.

There’s just love. It’s the only thing that’s real.

It’s the only thing that we can take with us when we die. We carry that love across the river of death. It seeds and blooms in our hearts as we are sent off into another life.

Those who risk it, reap the reward — even if it sometimes knocks us to our knees or mows us down — we are rewarded by exposing our most fragile and raw underbellies to the eyes of those we love.

We grow if our hearts are open. We grow if our hearts break. There’s nothing to be gained by waiting, by stalling, by thinking we still have time.

WE’RE ALL TERRIFIED OF BEING SEEN.

Terrified of every misstep or moment of gracelessness. We claim to believe in our inherent divinity — in the diamond chalice inside of our lives — but often feel unloved or unlovable.

What might happen if we reached across the table and took that person’s hand? What might happen if we believed we are worthy? What might happen if we treated love as our birthright instead of something we have to deserve or earn or find?

WHAT IF LOVE JUST IS?

What if it’s constant? What if it’s always there? What if love cannot be lost, as Dylan Thomas writes?

What if every soul we ever offered ourselves to, carries us (and we them) in our DNA, marrow, bones?

I believe we contain fragments of stars, of the cosmos itself (the macrocosm and microcosm) within us. If what I suspect is true, how could something as integral as love not be part of that?

Today, I ponder life and death. I just heard that one of my brother’s dearest friends and mentors died this morning. In the face of such loss, it is easy to grow numb and psyche ourselves out of taking chances. But we can’t do that.

We must be metaphorical trapeze artists, learning to completely trust the process. Trust that we’re in good hands. Trust that the net is there and will catch us.

I marvel at how deeply I have loved the beings who have blessed my life.

Daddy. Shirley. Gina. Melissa. Mari. Granddaddy. Nana. My darling Clementine cat and Stanfield kitty. The furry sisters, Thelma & Louise. Mufti-cat. Our dog, Snowberry.

I remember them.

I count their names when I pray for the dead.

I remember the husk of their voices, the sound of their laughter, the feel of having them close.

I think about those who are no longer part of my life.

Old lovers.

Yes, Michael, Kirk, Bill, Robert. Even, Ted.

I think about what I learned and how I changed because I knew them. Only in hindsight is it truly clear how much they shaped the woman I’ve become.

I think about my mother and my twin nephews.

Love softens you as you get older. It makes you less afraid, less certain, more open.

I realize I am a late bloomer.

I am pulling up a chair just as some folks have finished eating their fill and headed for the exits.

That’s okay. I got here. 

And I am going to fill my plate.

I will be the loudest, most flamboyant, cobalt blue songbird you’ve ever seen. I will write my name on the board in yellow chalk and fill my purse and my pockets and my coat with everything I can carry. Love is on the table and I am taking it.

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” ~ Theodore Roethke

So, let’s hold hands and dance and shimmy more often. Let’s write long letters and worry less about whether the house is clean or the dishes are done. Let’s drink mimosas and watch the moon rise. Let’s walk the rim of the world and catch fireflies in jars.

Here’s the thing: None of us know how much time we have left at any given moment.

None of us.

Why not go balls to the wall, all out, with nothing held back? Why not kiss the whole damn world?

 

*****

 

{How much time do we have?}

 

 

 

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Shavawn M. Berry
Shavawn M. Berry’s work has appeared in The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, The Anjana Network, Be You Media Group, Journey of the Heart: Women's Spiritual Poetry, Olentangy Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Vagina - The Zine, Rebelle Society, The Cancer Poetry Project 2, Kinema Poetics, Kalliope, Poet Lore, Westview – A Journal of Western Oklahoma, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Concho River Review, North Atlantic Review, Synapse, Living Buddhism, Blue Mountain Arts/SPS, and Poetry Seattle. She's been writing about spiritual topics for more than twenty years, and has been a practicing Buddhist for the past 29 years. In addition to her blog and Rebelle Society, she regularly writes for Be You Media Group and The Good Men Project. Her technique essay on the dramatic monologue/persona poem is featured in a poetry database published in 2013 by Ebsco Publishing. In 1998, she received her MPW in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where she specialized in Creative Nonfiction and Memoir. Ms. Berry teaches writing at Arizona State University where she received a Lincoln Ethics Teaching Fellowship in 2013. You can follow her on Facebook or read more of her work on her blog. Her website featuring a selection of her essays, blog postings, and prose is available at shavawnmberry.com.
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