So you know, I got another invite yesterday. It seems like every other week I either see a Facebook notification pop up or, as in this case, receive an official RSVP to another wedding.
I know what you’re thinking: you are 24 years old, barely a functioning adult.
You should know by know that cooties don’t exist, and that people you’ve known since middle school are bound to meet the one that they want to spend the rest of their lives with. I’ve only been out of college for a couple of years, and I’ve already earned the title “Always a Best Man, Never A Groom”. Matter of fact I should probably write a guide book like How Not to put the Worst in Best Man or 100 Ways To Remain Safely By the Bar During A Wedding. Bet sales would set a record and beat out The Bible.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic that these couples have found that person with the one missing puzzle piece that truly connects and finally completes the whole picture (insert Tom Cruise dramatic scene from Jerry Maguire here). They get to have their joyous adventures in the sun, filled with a type of happiness others, like myself, feel we spend years chasing. I wonder if Thomas Jefferson knew this when he wrote that we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness while drafting the Declaration of Independence. Still though, when the thought of rings and of vows of happy-ever-after-till-death-do-us-part leaps to mind, there’s a large part of me that instantly rebels.
For a while I thought it was because of my tenacious drive. I had too many ambitions and an overwhelming desire to see the world. I would not let myself become anchored so early in life. My dad always said that I had the soul of an adventurer because when I was little, much to his consternation, I would constantly attempt to sojourn into the forest behind my house on one of my own imaginative safaris. He’d have to bring me back so that I wouldn’t wonder off too far.
That same spirit is still a live and well today. I studied far away from my home state of Maryland and lived in foreign countries like Japan and Germany. My retained hopes of experiencing other cultures in the near future combined with my passion for acting, my multiple jobs, and projects as entrepreneur – it's a wonder I have much of a social life at all, much less room for that special someone who actually gets me, heart and soul. But the true reason – the real one buried deep down and bolted shut with locks of witty cynicism and humor – is that I’m terrified of that version of you, Love.
It is true that you molded who I am today -- my character and personality in different ways, too numerous to count. There’s the strong, stalwart love of two incredible parents who’ve inspired me, taught me, and raised me up to be all that I can be in this life.
There’s the infectious love from having a slew of amazing friends who you can trust to have your back. They share your secrets and pull many humorous shenanigans -- especially when Mardi Gras is involved.
There’s that all-consuming first love that lights every nerve on fire, electrifying our hearts. When it doesn't last, the love leaves us crushed, dazed and bewildered.
There’s the addictive kind of love that comes from performing in theater, practicing martial arts, writing anything, mountain climbing in the summer, or playing the piano.
There’s also that unique bond we form with certain people who come into our life, whether for a long period or just in a fleeting instant. Within that timespan they show us a new perspective on life we never considered before. Maybe, a perspective we realized we needed.
And finally, but by far the most important – we remember the unwavering love that connects everyone to their fellow man, both in times of celebration like Christmas and in times of great loss and suffering.
Let’s be honest: if this year proved anything to you, it’s that that last type of love is one deserving better attention and improvement.
Take this week for instance. Many of us are so wrapped up in our own lives and daily problems that we don’t pause to really take in the enormity of loss of life and devastation occurring in war torn Aleppo where many are recording their last “I love you”.
Again, I will constantly struggle to understand why we never truly appreciate you, experience you, or see you until it’s near the end like your sibling, Time. With all these events transpiring, it’s hard for many of us to focus on it because we’ve grown numb to it, living in this harsh reality. Living in an unfair world where danger seems to lurk around every corner, you’re faced with ever mounting expectations to overcome or achieve. It’s only natural to develop an ultra-thick skin and hone your inner fortifications in order to survive day-to-day. People do not naturally not love; overtime they learn not to.
I wrote before to your other sibling, Death, and mentioned how we’ve seen too much of him this past year in particular. It’s felt like the exact opposite with you; the moments have been far and few in between.
Who knows. Maybe we've brushed you off or ignored you. I know I’m guilty of my fair share of instances where I didn’t pay attention or deliberately forgot you. One case happened just this past Monday that you know all too well.
I was walking into a store trying to wrap up the last of my Christmas shopping when I noticed a pile of slipping bags just propped up a couple of feet from the door. As I looked closer my eyes locked onto those of an old man -- his face covered in a dirty beard, grime, and leathery wrinkles. Without breaking my stride -- without stopping -- I continued onward and walked right into the store.
The whole time in there I could not find that single right present because all I could see was that man’s face. I didn’t stop to really see him, talk to him, or simply treat him as a human being. This gnawed at my gut, and I’m sure you had something to do with this feeling.
I didn’t buy a gift. Instead I bought a bottle of water, a couple of snack bars, and a thick blanket which I gave to the man as I left, getting a soft “thank you” from him in return. There was definitely far more that I could have done, should have done. But as we all know, shouldas, couldas, and wouldas don't amount to anything in this life. That was the first time I had heard you call to me in a long, long time. I intend to act a lot quicker the next time I hear your voice.
So yes, Love, I'm coming clean to you. I’m afraid of that “soul mate” version of yourself because no matter who it is, may they be black, white, gay, straight, etc. It takes a great deal of courage for one person to place their heart in the hands of another and trust that they won’t let it shatter, but instead turn it into something far more magical. With the holidays here and 2017 just on the horizon, it's time to start making those small steps towards you and start really listening to you so that others can pay your power forward.
If there's one thing we need more of these days, it's a little more love in our hearts.