Love…  by Andrea 

This post was written by Andrea and I am honored to publish it here for her.

Love you, you wonderful wanderer.

   These feelings are always so strange and foreign to me, even though they are feelings that have constantly passed, like waves, through my mind. I can never figure out why they are always so hard for me to digest properly and why they return, over and over, no matter how many times I try to analyze them.  Like a lump in my throat I can’t seem to swallow. What is it about the constant pressure from society to settle down and procreate I can’t agree to, yet secretly a part of me longs for it?

   Maybe I have been designed to live a life most people don’t understand. A life that I don’t understand and that I can’t seem to figure out. A life of solitude with a  longing for things that simply no longer exist in the pure state I am looking for.

   So many days I wonder how it is possible that I can be surrounded by so many people yet feel completely alone. Searching the crowds of people for someone to hold me. To provide me with that sense of reassurance in life we are all looking for. Yet, I constantly struggle with the thought of being viewed as property.

   How can one be alone in a world filled with so many people?

  Is it me who simply chooses this and has driven myself to become accustomed to this life style? To driving those away who might actually be worth letting in? To not being able to accept the fact that, over time, love fades and what you are left with is a comfortable nothingness? And this is what love actually is – OR- is this where I belong in life? Is this how my path was written from the beginning? To travel this world alone searching for feelings  that aren’t real anymore? Seeking the true connection to another soul, never to find the one that was created solely for me?

   At times I am overwhelmed by the affection from suitors coming at me from all directions. Yet, I can’t seem to find that person whom I feel I share that desired connection with. Or the person whose affection I actually want to embrace and return as one “should”.

   Maybe this is because love doesn’t exist.  It’s a fantasy that from an early age we are taught to yearn for. Or perhaps it does exist and I’m just blind to it -OR- quite possibly I’m just a fool and can’t see it when it’s right I front of me. I’m so busy searching for a feeling yet I have no idea what the feeling actually feels like. Searching for this “idea” of love I have in my head. This “feeling”.

   How does one feel an idea, anyways? Is it even possible?  And then we come to the part of always wanting the ones that don’t admire us in return.  The ones that have no need for our affection.

   As I sit here, in the silence of an apartment that belongs to a man I flew 1/2 way around the world to to see, that I’ve spent the past 6 days with, yet we’ve barely managed to speak 6 full sentences to each other, I wonder, why is it I still merely desire his affection?

   The affection of a man who didn’t even have the courage to say goodbye to me when he left this morning, knowing that I’d be gone by the time he reached home, with no plans of returning anytime soon. A man who had no trouble expressing his desires with wandering hands in the dark of the night.  Yet, he is the one who’s affection I seek?

   I long to know how his day was spent. What he did. Who he may have met. Where he went. To sit and share a meal with him. To simply sit on the couch together letting the electricity of our connection bounce off one another’s skin. To hold his hand in silence or feel the protection of his arms wrapped around me in the middle of the night. To learn his desires, his passions, his dreams. To watch him sleep peacefully as my mind wonders imagining what he might be dreaming about.  To breath in the scent of his skin.  To keep the scent tucked away so I might be able to someday associate it to a distant memory in the far off future.  To do all that is necessary to foster a meaningful connection.  To know him and let him know me.

   The affection of a man who, to me, appears to be so lonely in life that I cannot understand  his unwillingness to return these desires or to acknowledge mine for him. To make the smallest amount of time for me when we only have a few short days together.

   Could it be possible his loneliness is contagious? Is this why, once again, I am struggling to digest these feelings that are flooding my mind? Filling my mind? Or maybe, as I stated earlier, maybe I am the lonely one. The one that is so lost in being alone that it is my feelings that are contagious. Trying to fit into the idea of a society that was not meant for me nor one that I fit into.

   There is never courage in running away, yet, time and time again, it seems like the best possible solution to me. Jump on a plane to a new destination.  Fill my life with new people and new culture. New experiences.  Maybe then these feelings will make sense? Maybe there my Prince Charming is waiting. Or maybe it is just another lonely place.

   Again, perhaps I am the one running from him. I do seem to be the one who is always running. The one unwilling to put in the extra work to make him see his importance to me. The one who is not capable of giving or receiving the proper affection and attention needed to sustain a relationship. Maybe, after being alone for so long, his wandering hands were the only way he knew to express his affection towards me and I didn’t give him a fair chance, rushing straight to judgement and rejection.

   On a side note, as I once again jet off to a new destination in search of something I am unsure exsists, the two beside me on the plane seem to be so madly in love with one another that I can’t help but have faith in a love like theirs, but for me.

   If love is to be seen in a spectrum, just as most emotions are, my empathy and experience have given me a broader view of the gravity and intensity love has to offer. I have seen heavy depths. The pressure in that dark sadness can truly turn coal into diamonds. I have seen humanity triumph from hopelessness, overcoming death and disease. Strangers raising forgotten souls from the dead. Children who were anonymous and unknown being given a chance at life from a person who grew up on the other side of the world using love to guide them to their good and philanthropic tasks. I’ve seen a variety and a vastness that many can’t comprehend and it has given me the burden of desire for a deep and heavy love. 

   Why would I lay that load on someone who couldn’t hoist it? My search will be harder but, in the end, I hope it finds me in a love more worthwhile. Real. Pure. Grand. Having nothing to do with proximity and common interests and everything to do with a spiritual connection and the true admiration of souls that see each other through the flesh and bone of bodies. A love that lives. One that’s eternal. One that exists now because it always has, outside of the temporary anatomy I was born into, in the realm of the everlasting subconscious that has endured over millenia and shall exsist in many forms until the end. A love that is both effortless and exhausting. Both immensely thick and heavy but, also weightless. One that stays outside societal parameters so it can carry it’s meaning through all of space and time as all unending things do.

   Something like that is the love I seek.

   Indulging in what my body craves does not satisfy my soul it merely quells the hunger pangs. It tides me over as I wait for the thing that will truly satisfy what this vessel’s soul is in search of.

   I have a thirst for a love with a lack of worldly conditions but a need for godly ideals.  It is filling and smooth and immediately recognized.  I want Mana from heaven not mcdonalds.  

   I have the patience. I have the determination. I have the knowledge of what I truly need.  But, the question that always lingers is, do I have the time in this body, in this place?  Do I have the time?  I have the courage but I must continue to pray for the sight so it doesn’t pass me by.

The traveler. 

   This post has been a collaborative effort between my dear friend Andrea and I. Andrea, being the brave and selfless soul that she is, is currently traveling the world on a charitable mission. She and I have long known that we share a very similar set of ideals and perspectives so, when she approached me today with the idea of working on a piece together that could express what her soul has been screaming to say, I didn’t hesitate for a moment.  We wrote this today to convey a sense of sorrow we share for the path that many we have met seem to be on in the hope of awakening a dormant energy in the good people of this world that may act as a catalyst to the creation of positive change.

   As a traveler, exploring new countries, cities, and places is truly inspiring. Adversely, it has also saddened me deep into my core. As I sit here sipping my coffee, I look around and have realized that there are too many people on this planet that have never truly lived. 

   One day they are going to wake and realize they haven’t enjoyed life but, by then, it will be too late. They were too busy trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. They have spent a life time acquiring material goods to fill their homes instead of acquiring substance and experiences to fill their souls. It is my fear that they will leave this world with an emptiness as they have failed to do and see the things that actually make life worth living. To develop and fortify their eternal selves. To leave a spring of energy behind that future generations can draw from.

   I understand the logistics and necessity of money but it’s the constant consuming that society breeds into us from birth that I can’t seem to wrap my brain around.  Why do we not focus on teaching our children the more substantial, fulfilling, and worthwhile values of life? Such as meeting new people in strange places, however alien or odd they may seem, which enriches our love of human kind and adds to a sense of sameness that allows us to feel empathy, a deeper connection, and an ability to relate so that we need never feel alone. To be kind to one another including those we don’t understand or stand to gain anything from. To become acquainted with people unlike ourselves so that we can learn something from them and they can gain knowledge by knowing us. To not judge critically but rather embrace our differences and to search out commonalities we can use to unite. 

   Maybe it is me who is running away from society. Maybe I am searching for something that does not exsist. It’s a feeling I’m longing for that I’m unable to find.

   But, as I sit here, I can’t seem to get far enough away from where I am. 

   Every adventurer travels with a multitude of items that vary due to the individual needs of each mission or destination. However, there is one thing they carry with them as they travel to every location.  No matter where I go, there I am. And, so is the feeling that the people I have met could benefit from walking a slightly different path. This feeling and place I seek may not exsist yet but, they very well could.

  It’s not that I feel my way is best or perfectly suited for every soul on this Earth but, with a greater commitment to performing kind and altruistic acts, a deepened empathy and connection to all of humankind, an amplified desire to teach and elevate every population, and with a renewed focus on the aspects of life that are soul enriching and knowledge expanding as opposed to the superficial and meaningless things people seem to lustfully desire, we may be able to create that peaceful place in every valley, village, and bustling metropolis the world over.

  Perhaps the sense of fulfillment I have sought for so long as I have walked alongside so many empty spirits as they scratch for sustenance on the walls of malls and market places will finally overtake me as I successfully help to realign the human hearts I touch with a real sense of purpose.  Maybe my philanthropic deeds and toiling to teach a man to seek a sense of duty or a position in which he can lift another man up instead of exhausting himself in an effort to obtain a title, a place of power, or a societal status that only holds value in his office building while making him stacks of paper money that could easily blow away or burn, will bring me that sense of ease. 

   I wish to teach people to value the things that don’t fade in and out of style.  I want to show everyone the roads that I have found to happiness on a map that any and all can read and travel, despite their income bracket, race, or gender. Despite any affiliation of any kind.  I wish to pass on the knowledge I have gained through great difficulty, freely and to all who seek a well of limitless joy that is built with the bricks we create by being of service to others and is filled with the satisfaction of knowing that we have contributed to the positive forces, giving as much as we have taken.  

   I know that not everyone can see or experience what I have seen. I’ve witnessed a broad scope of the human condition and life on many levels.  I have seen the very poor, unable to feed themselves or seek necessary medical care. Children, homeless on the filthy streets of dangerous cities. Their stomachs aching with hunger and their hearts aching with the discomfort of abandonment and the weariness that comes with never having had the opportunity to feel at rest or at ease. They are in tears because of the pain with no one to console them. Alone. Without hope. Vulnerable, uneducated, unprotected, and cast aside to be abused and left to die.  

  I grew to maturity in the American middle class where I was freely given an education. I was afforded the food and shelter that these children consider to be luxuries. I was told I had the right to safety and health. Ignoring the ridiculousness in desiring statuses and stuff is impossible for me now. 

   No matter the country, race, or creed, people are people. Children are children. A smile is a smile and laughter and tears, worry and regret, hunger and cold, love and anger are endowed upon us all to let us know that, despite our differences, we are made of the same material. 

  We cringe as we watch others suffer because we are born with a sense of responsibility to be of assistance to one another. The borders of countries created imagined walls.  With those walls came the division of race, religion, and allegiance to governments that have seperated us for thousands of years.

Men created those things. 

Men make mistakes.

   I’m not seeking a Utopia, for that seems an unattainable dream.  I only dream of kind hearts and helping hands and minds that seek out similarities instead of the divisive differences. I’m in search of a more unified society that is comprised of a brilliant pallette of colorful faces and is driven by compassion, acceptance, and open mindedness. It is fueled with the warm and inexhaustible energy of love instead of this one that seems to be hell bent on stoking the furnace fires with hate while we fill our empty spaces with gold or plastic, closing our eyes and ears as people beg for help and shutting ourselves off only to wonder why we feel so alone. 

  If you would only try the way I found, grow accustomed to living with a little less, become used to desiring little but offering much, I am certain you would find that seeking fulfillment by helping and bringing joy to others is an everlasting source of contentment, and, the opportunities for entertainment and intellectual growth are never-ending if one becomes willing to look beyond what they already know.

   My benevolent spirit was cultivated from the same materials that every one of us is made from and the world seems to be in need of an adjustment. If even a small portion of this planet’s population of over 7 billion beings would make even a small shift in a more selfless direction, millions of lives would be improved and millions of minds would be grown. All of those good things that we millions of changed souls do would become the seeds, planted in the newly fertile soils we have enriched and made suitable for growth with our new philanthropic mindsets, that will grow into the crops that feed the next generation of kind and hungry souls.

Forgiveness is easy for the emotionally invincible.

I often thought myself a fool for forgiving so often because people thought I was naive, or full of self doubt, or even that I had been dishonest about events that I claimed had caused me to separate myself from those I chose to leave behind.

It seems to me when someone such as myself refuses to trouble themselves with self preservation-spawned explanations because my self worth and value don’t rely on outside opinions, people tend to fill in the blanks in my silence with their own assumptions.

Their assumptions are often very wrong.

They see a weakness in my forgiveness because they can’t understand how I could do it. 

Until a few years ago I didn’t even understand how I was able to do it.

How is it so easy to forgive?

First I had to understand that forgiveness doesn’t mean I’m unworthy of justice for the harmful things that have been done.

I just don’t have a need to seek retribution for myself.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean things go back to the way they were. 

Some broken things can not be fixed.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the bad things didn’t happen.

I remember them clearly. Vividly. Painfully.

Forgiveness is a tool of freedom.

It allows me to empty the tightly packed spaces in my mind and spirit where resentments and anger grow and thrive like bacteria, infecting my consciousness with bitterness and hate.

Bitterness and hate are like poison. They infect my attitude, actions, and mentality. They pour out in words and behaviors on everyone and everything I encounter.

I choose not to allow that type of sickness to live inside of me and I certainly won’t allow myself to harbor it and infect anyone else with it.

Not even by accident in the form of displaced anger.

I don’t forgive because people deserve it. I forgive because I deserve to be happy, joyous, and free.

It helps to see people as they really are.

Making monsters out of men makes the world a scary place.

I don’t believe in bad people and I have never met an evil baby. Most of the “bad” people are just badly broken.

Some will die behaving badly, though.

Some really don’t change.

But I won’t deprive someone the benefit of the doubt.

I won’t deprive someone the opportunity to learn and grow.

They don’t need to do it with me, near me, or at my expense. But I try to avoid an attitude of judgement at all costs.

I was lost once.

I found my “self” was always in me. 

That’s the one thing that never leaves and being okay with who I really am is what made the world worth living in and made me worthy to live in it and be a part of all of its beauty.

Some people are never going to be okay with who they are. I won’t make it harder for them by being hateful or holding grudges.

I truly believe most “bad people” are just in pain, in fear, or lost somehow.

Something I picked up in my religious studies is an idea that no one’s life or sense of comfort is more valuable than another’s. This is why I must set limits while helping others so I don’t allow myself to be destroyed because my life and comfort is valuable, too.

I’m really strong, though.  

Damn near invincible when it comes to spiritual fortitude.

Indomitable.

I also have an incredible sense of who I am and what my value is.

So, forgiveness is easy.  

I feel no need to make people like me.

I feel no need to save face.

I feel no need to be vengeful.

I feel no need to repay suffering.

I feel no need to be right in the realm of public opinion.

Forgiveness is easier for those reasons, too.

Religious philosiphies and spiritual teachings often repeat themes throughout centuries and sects.

One of these is that it is an enlightened person’s spiritual responsibility to teach others the path by showing them the way with their actions. 

The Dalai Lama said, “We should not seek revenge on those who have committed crimes against us, or reply to their crimes with other crimes.  We should reflect that by the laws of Karma, they are in danger of lowly and miserable lives to come, and that our duty to them, as to every being, is to help them rise toward Nirvana rather than sink to lower levels of rebirth.”  

So I forgive them for their harms.

I move forward on my journey toward enlightenment, fortified by my good deeds.

I show them kindness.

In my kindness they can breathe for a moment. 

In that breath they may find rest or peace.

In that moment of calm their chaotic mind may unfold.

In that clarity they may find the way forward.

I forgive because it is my duty to myself and to the world.

I forgive because it strengthens and soothes my soul in the way that vengeance and anger briefly satisfies some who may not feel connected to their spirit, or their consciousness, or whatever it is that they believe it was that created them. 

I forgive because forgiveness is helpful.

I forgive because forgiveness is good.

People

We are not test scores.

We are not criminal records.

We are not measured by how many blue thumbs up we accumulate at the bottom of a photo.

We are not a habit or a membership.

We are not a religion.

We are not a color.

We are not a size or numbers on a scale.

We are not the things we’ve done.

We are the things we do.

We are how we treat others.

We are the intentions behind our actions.

We are the effort we put into self improvement.

Be aware.

Look inward.

Blame throwing and name knowing mean nothing in the end.

Be good.

No excuses or justifications for bad behavior.

Be good.



Snow silence

Minnesota winters at night were so quiet and still.

The blanket of white even muted the colors in the landscape.

If my mind became chaotic I would sit outside in the dark and the silence of it all soothed me.

The trees and leaves were frozen and still and made no rustling.

The critters and bugs had died or settled into their hibernation slumber.

Birds went south so there wasn’t a chirp or wing flapping for hundreds of miles.

Cold silence.

Complete silence.

It was like living on the moon.

Everything was sparkling.

I loved watching the dryer vent outside of the house. 

As soon as the warm moist air entered in to the cold it crystalized.

It looked like glitter.  Sparkling air flowing out.

It was beautiful.

I don’t understand how people can be gloomy and grumpy about a cold winter.

It’s one of the most beautiful things on this Earth.

Puzzle pieces

Life is like a puzzle. 

In the beginning the picture is unclear.

Thousands of pieces.

Each step we organize it by learning things, growing, moving forward.

We begin to see some sense in it.

Shapes and forms become visible.

Direction is found.

At some point we have a good idea of our purpose, even when the details and full picture aren’t clear.

It seems to me that those who choose to see the beauty in the colors while the details aren’t yet visible, and the people who take joy from the work that is done to complete the next task rather than worry that their efforts are irrelevant, and the people that trust that the outcome will be worthwhile are much happier during the process.

Puzzles.

All of us.

Every one different though some may look alike.

I’ve found my edges.

I must say it’s vibrant.

Parts are complete while others are still a jumble.

Putting myself together has been fun, overall.

I’m glad I’m not done yet like I wanted to be in the darker parts.

I’m excited to see what’s next.