Have You Ever Been in Love?
Margaret Atwood once said that a writer's best friend is a trash can.
I never struggled to toss something into the bin until I became a mother. Maybe I never understood how precious a thing could be before then?
I remember standing in the shower a few days after my daughter was born and howling like a hurt animal thinking of the corner I’d just backed myself into inadvertently. It felt like a trap. I’d carried home a treasure I would never be able to live without.
Attachment, grasping, holding too tightly. All the attributes I’d tried to scrub from my repertoire for years on the meditation cushion were upon me like a net suddenly. I was caught. Desperately, hopelessly, soul-explodingly in love.
I could never slip out the backdoor of my life again. I could never disappear if things were too much. I could never skip the exit, keep on driving, leave it all in the rear view if it wasn't going well.
I was chained to this new love like a delinquent to a parole officer. I hadn't known it could be like this. That you could adore something so non-negotiably that you would give up your shitty habits and hiding places in an attempt to live at a new standard, worthy of their perfection.
There's an old episode of Twin Peaks where someone asks Donna why she’s smoking. She says: "Because I’m sad." Then they ask her why she’s sad and she replies: "Because I’m smoking."
This is precisely how I felt in the shower that day. Never more in love and never more in panic. A comet chasing its own tail across the milky way.
It’s difficult to manage our attachments. It’s part of the great conundrum of being human. We can’t downplay our desires and manifest them at the same time. A lot of us have learned to do this as a form of self protection. We say: “It’s no big deal.”, when it IS a big deal. We cover up our disappointments like blemishes. Something to disown or feel ashamed of.
Most of us want to avoid disappointment altogether so we’ve learned to lead chance-less lives. We don’t want to take the risk. We don’t want to embarrass ourselves if it doesn’t go well. We don’t want to endure the awkward phase of not-yet-knowing how to do a thing we long to be able to do well.
The trash can is a writer’s best friend because anytime we allow ourselves to scrap what we’re struggling with, we offer ourselves a fresh start. And there is nothing more generous than a fresh start.
Anytime we are able to love something fully and withstand the tendency to be ultra-precious with it, we are free.
Let that pull toward freedom be your guide this week, rather than the habit of deflection and avoidance. Loosen your grip so more can come to you. If it’s not working out, there’s always a trash can you can feed. But if it is working, give it the respect of your whole effort, your whole heart.
You will be glad you did, even in the midst of feeling the panic that comes with passionately loving life, on a level which contains no escape hatch.
Till next time friends,