Thursday, May 08, 2008

Loose Change

I’ve spent some time as of late pouring over a book written about Sir Charles Darwin and his theories on evolution. If you’re of the mind that such research is hazardous to my health as a Creationist you couldn’t be more incorrect. God Himself endowed me with this inquisitive mind and isn’t the least bit frightened by my need to explore all possible conclusions and explanations concerning the why's and how's of which I came to be. I don’t believe in the one true God as the author and finisher of my existence simply because I've ingested the contents of Genesis countless times, and conversely won’t be convinced my ancestors crawled from some primordial soup simply by reading the works of the world's most renowned theorist on the opposing view. My beliefs, like everyone else’s, are deeply rooted in faith. For whether you choose to believe it or not, it’s a matter of such either way. Empirical, undeniable proof for either side of the argument doesn’t exist. Either God is or He isn’t....you simply have Faith in one or the other.

But my diatribe today isn’t concerning such weighty matters as the existence of God or the Big Bang Theory. Frankly, I'm too weak for such a discussion from eating like a citizen of a third world nation for 6 weeks all in an effort to slide into a bridesmaids dress. I was simply struck by something Darwin said from an angle of new perspective.

It was 5 am....I had returned to my hotel room, removed my party dress and a thousand bobby pins from my hair .....everyone had at long last settled down and I was alone in the quiet. My little brother had just gotten married. I let my mind drift back over the events and memorable moments of the day and this quote floated in from the recesses of my memory where I was unaware I had even tucked it away: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change."

I have to tell you folks, ole Charlie got THAT one right. And nowhere is this theory more evidently true than in the arena of human relationships.....for here, evolution is inevitable.....without it, things simply cease. I thought of my brother and the new chapter he'd just written into his own existence and realized that even while I hadn’t been looking I had seen him evolve from a young boy full of mischief and wonder into a strong intelligent man of integrity and further still into a capable and willing husband. I thought of Amanda, his new bride, and how in a matter of months she'd evolved from a stranger to a friend and now into a sister.

Every relationship in my life has encountered Change.....chased by the emotional predators of Life we are forced into rabbit holes, underbrush and landscapes completely unfamiliar with anything we have ever experienced. We either grow the thick skin and sharp teeth necessary to reinvent all that we were into something even grander or we never learn to breathe under water. Parents begin as providers evolve into mentors and eventually into dependents of those once dependent on them. Friends become lovers that sometimes melt back to friends. Love is fluid and will follow and fill no matter what shape the container becomes. If we only had the insight to realize that as we become flexible in the winds of change, we bend our lives back over one another’s in new and intricate ways creating bonds infinitely stronger.

I lie there in the dark thinking of all the ways in which I feel my life shifting in new directions. I once saw Change as some to be leery of.....to approach with caution and apprehension. I pray now for the grace to see if for what it is, a chance to evolve into an even greater version of my truest self....a me that will not only survive, but one that will flourish.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Economics of Love and Chocolate

I have a friend who has the most curious habit of speaking as though every conversation he produces is a screenplay. He is so full of detail, he even changes his voice a bit when indicating a different "speaker"....something im pretty sure he isn’t even aware he is doing. Throw in a soliloquy, an aside and a monologue or two and we're bordering on Shakespeare here, people. He is an unending source of fascinating musings some of which would look damn good cross-stitched on a pillow. I enjoy simply watching him speak. I love the way his eyes crinkle as the tension in the story builds or how his hands seem to be in constant motion. It’s like watching a dancer move across the floor.....im transfixed by the swirling motion of it all......sometimes so much so that his words might instantly filter into my mind, yet take more than a moment to actually register. He is a writer and his love of language is apparent even in his movement.....a living-breathing-speaking work of art.

This particular evening I am exhausted to the point of near crazy. I can see the weariness of the day tugging at the corners of his eyes as well. We are seated on the patio of my favorite local restaurants, and the night smells of the rapid approach of Fall. The air swirling against my bare legs beneath my dress gives me a light chill, but it’s a delicious contrast to the warmth sliding into my belly from the glass of wine in my hand. It had been a difficult day....you know, the kind where you get the itch to sell most of what you own, shove the rest in a locker at the train station and hop the next ride out of the country. Ok, so maybe you don’t know. But, personally, I have those days every so often. I’m not sure what makes me think I will somehow become spontaneously brilliant and less of a mess if I simply make a drastic change in location, but I think it nonetheless. He tells me this insanely funny anecdote about one of his students that while trying to entertain his peers with a rather immature and brain damaged stunt managed to lose control of his bodily functions and shit his britches. The vibrations of laughter thru my chest begin to loosen the tension wound tightly inside and for the first time all day I take a deep breath.
He begins another story pertaining to one of his students and I am content to sit and allow his voice to wash over me. If I focus solely on him, I can momentarily silence all the other worries in my head and just BE. I notice one small curl of dark hair that seems intent on falling down across his forehead and I grin remembering how distressed he'd been when just a few short weeks ago a Nazi hair stylist went all Edward Scissorhands on his noggin and left him looking like a chemo patient. Suddenly he shifts gears. Drastically. I’ve grown accustomed to this and now it feels natural, but the first few conversations of this kind felt like driving 180 mph down a straight stretch of road with your foot on the floor and having someone suddenly jerk the wheel hard to the left.

"That's the thing about love " he says, "Do you know how to tell if it’s authentic?"

I’m always amazed at his ability to round mental corners at the speed of light. He's practically the only person I know that can go from a discussion on the literary nuances of Moby Dick to a full blown explanation on the inner workings of the greatest of all human emotions all without getting dizzy.

"No, enlighten me, wont you" I mutter.

"It’s Free," he says.


"Absolutely. Without question. I may not have a lock on the truth, but THIS I know."

"Care to elaborate, your Holiness?" I quip.

"It’s simple. Real love doesn’t ask for anything in return. It’s simply given away for free. It doesn’t expect a reciprocating gesture or even acknowledgment. It doesn’t coerce or attempt to impress. It doesn’t say well if only you hadn’t failed me in this way or if only you had been better then you would be worthy of me. Nope. It doesn’t care about the flaws."

"Interesting little interpretation you have there. Sounds similar to this passage in a little book called THE BIBLE." I say, my voice dripping with sarcasm. "This isnt exactly late breaking news, Sugar."

"Perhaps. But it’s clear that though you've heard this before you don’t GET IT. Because if you did, you would recognize it when you see it.....or rather, recognize what ISNT Love but claims to be. It irritates me because you are bright. You should get this. I’m confused as to why you are wasting time. But, you’re not alone. I meet very few folks that do."

I raise my brows and look at him in a squint. I’m torn between fascination and irritation because I don’t particularly like to be analyzed. He grins because he has seen this look before. Often. Suddenly my eyes fill with tears and brim over. Oddly, he is one of the few men I’ve encountered that isn’t the least bit awkward with crying women and he simply leans over and pats my arm.

"I’m sorry; I don’t know where that came from. Ok, that’s a lie. I do know, but I don’t want to talk about it." I mutter.

"So, how do you feel about New York City in the Fall?" he grins. And just like that he's on to something new as though the last 10 minutes hadn’t happened.

I crawl into bed that night thinking about that exchange. Why do we as humans find it so hard to wrap our minds around the concept of love without conditions? Why do we have such difficulty recognizing what real love looks like? I mean, I learned early on how to identify CHOCOLATE. Smash it flat into a bar and wrap it in tinfoil.....hallow it out and mold it into the shape of a bunny......or liquefy it and hide it in the middle of a sponge-filled cake and I can STILL identify it. The shape doesn’t matter.....the source doesn’t matter.......the amount doesn’t matter. I know INSTANTLY - Yep, this is chocolate, people. I can smell that margarine-infused, hydrogenated, fake coco-flavored candy shit from a mile away.....I am NOT fooled. One look at that shiny waxy mess and I know it’s not the real deal. Oh, it looks the same, but because I KNOW chocolate, I’m not fooled, Mr. Hershey.....even when its closetoalmostnearly-madewithSplenda-stampedwiththelogo-butstillnotchocolate.....I KNOW. And here is the kicker, I don’t settle for it either. Hmmmm......and that's just CHOCOLATE.

Ok Ok....so chocolate is tangible.....but let's face it, it’s also often times almost a transcendental experience just the same. Am I right, ladies???? But if I am as educated about and as picky over simply my choice of sugar infused indulgences, it does seem a little weak that im not better at identifying other things in my life as authentic and worth the investment......

Isn’t it just a kick in the pants that Love-the most PRICELESS of all commodities- is actually only of real VALUE when it is FREE.......and the second you put a price on it, it becomes worthless.