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TO BE VULNERABLE

Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless - it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. -- C.S. Lewis

12 January 2002

The above quote is one of the prompts for this month's "Random Acts of Journaling." It struck a cord with me. One of the reasons it struck me was that another quote of C.S. Lewis (or at least one from Shadowlands, the story of Lewis and the wife he lost to cancer) is one that I have used countless times and one that sustains me in times of pain: "The pain now is part of the happiness then" (or something like that)

There is a price we pay for anything. In matters of the heart, pain is the price we pay for pleasure. When you think of it, sooner or later we will lose everyone that we love, whether by death, by separation, by break-up, by slow fading away.

The intensity of the pain is in proportion to the intensity of the love. For example, I loved most of the foreign students who stayed with us. It was very painful to send them back to their own countries, knowing I would probably never see them again. As the years have passed and we have lost contact with each other, there is a pain that they are no longer in my life--but it is a little pain, a passing pain, a pain I barely notice.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the death of our two sons. A pain that is sharp, intense, and unremitting. You can put it aside for lengths of time, but you can be certain that there will always be "moments" when it comes rushing back. It's a pain that will live with me for the rest of my life.

The only way to avoid pain is to close that door to your emotions and lock it with a huge lock....and then throw away the key. But what a way to live. A life in shades of grey, with no colors. TV before the NBC peacock!

Opening ourselves to loving someone lets in the sunlight...Dorothy opening the door of her sepia-toned Kansas house into the bright, intense color of Oz.

I think of "moments" with David and Paul -- Toddler David running up the street and throwing himself into my arms, covering my face with sticky kisses. Young Paul singing "Gary, Indiana" in his first big role. Teen aged Dave with eyes glowing, dancing at a Lawsuit concert. Teen age Paul rushing home to tell me he'd been selected for the Jazz Choir. Adult Dave with his huge smile, his big hugs and his wonderful laugh. Adult Paul calling me in Houston because he just needed to talk with his Mom. ...more moments than I can count. Beautiful moments. Moments of brilliant color.

May 18, 1996. April 20, 1999. The days the color died. The somber group gathered around a tiny plot in a cemetery, shivering slightly in the wind, the grey skies matching the grey mood.

If I could go back and consciously make the choice, whether to give birth to those kids or not, knowing the pain that was ahead, would I have?

I loved Gilbert. He was my dearest friend for many years. I think of the moments of color I shared with him--learning computers, watching cartoons, sitting and talking--knowing that he didn't open up to anyone else, sitting behind him during a show and watching him conduct. Moments of brilliant color.

July 14, 1986. The day the color died. Standing on the deck of a small boat in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, the grey fog swirling around us (is it always grey at funerals), watching his remains become part of the bay floor.

If I could go back and consciously make the choice whether to allow him to become such a part of my heart, knowing the pain that lay ahead, would I have?

The answer to both questions is unequivocally yes. Yes..yes..yes! I could have been safe. I could have made the choice not to give birth. I could have maintained a professional relationship with Gilbert, kept our friendship casual, kept him at arms length.

What joy I would have missed!! It's the joy, the memories of beautiful times that sustains me in periods of pain. I wonder what sustains people who have never opened themselves to the beautiful color--where are their memories?

Loss is inevitable. There is an end to every beginning. Sometimes the end comes soon, sometimes later, but it will very definitely end. If I have the choice, the thing I want to carry with me at the end is not a lifetime of holding people at arm's length because I don't want to risk hurting. I want to embrace life, to give myself to the joy, to take each day, one day at a time and to know that when the pain comes, I have a lot of wonderful memories to keep me warm on grey days. If I protect myself from the pain, I will never experience the joy. I don't want the sepia of Kansas...I want the brilliant color of Oz.

The pain then is part of the happiness now. That's the deal.

Quote of the Day

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; while loving someone deeply gives you courage

~ Lao Tzu

Yesterday's Photo

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Young David

One Year Ago
Just a Simple School Marm
This evening she reminisced about the transsexual she'd dated for awhile, at first innocently, not realizing that she used to be a he ("I never noticed the big hands," she said). And then getting intrigued by the whole idea. She said it was difficult being intimate with someone whose only question was "does it look normal?"

Two Years Ago
Reflections of Life
A person, like the prism, can sit safely in the dark reflecting the narrow world around them, living a life in muted colors, or they can venture out into the light, allow the sun to shine through, to reflect the wider world, and to live with the reflection of all the colors of the rainbow penetrating their very heart, the way they were made to live.


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