Monday, June 9, 2014

Love, Dust, and Transitions

The air is thick this month with blooming flowers, graduation speeches, and wedding vows. So many people in June set out on new journeys, change something deeply in how they are in the world, or make manifest the truth of their own hearts.

It is glorious, all of these transitions and freedoms and changes and ways of being and of love on the brink of being explored and made visible in the world.

I’ve attended enough weddings at this point to come to the happy conclusion that love is not rare. How people come to find each other, how they recognize that their independent lives would grow richer with the graft of their beloved’s life and leap on that faith, and that their mutual priority is to build a life together, that is always unique to the people being celebrated in fields and tents and city halls and beaches and other places made holy with love on any given weekend. But that is not the sum and total of love—love itself is the biggest and grandest and most diverse thing we can find and share and abet in this world.

Similarly, all of the predictable and traditional tripe of graduation speeches and rituals would have you believe that the path of how to be in the world only unfolds for you at eighteen and twenty-two, that only then can you come into the world and make of it what grows from its reality and your dreams.

We, too often, come to mistake the rituals for the thing. We think, perhaps, that our slates cannot be cleaned, that we cannot start again as new graduates do. We forget that weddings are only one very public example of how the love in the air can be grabbed hold of, how a life can be built on love.  “There are more things in Heaven and Earth,” says Hamlet—a prime example of a desperate Romantic trying to practically follow his heart through the mess of being human—“than are dreamt of in your philosophies.”

I worry about how stuck we get in our philosophies, in our culturally narrowed ideas of what life “should” look like and be. If you believe mainstream cultural influences—and they are perniciously hard to avoid—marriage is the one and truest expression of love, opportunity and adventure and new beginnings are exclusively for graduating students.

We dangerously break our own hearts and wall up our souls with such little thoughts and static ways of being.

When you take the time to behold the sunset, the phases of the moon, the crisscross journeys of the stars, the tides, the sunrise, all that thrums with birth and life and death in the living world, it becomes beautifully clear that new beginnings, new opportunities, are as common and lovely as dirt. When you look at all the different ways in which people live—and I believe that our deepest loves root and dictate how we spend our precious time, and so how we are in the world is fused to how we make our days and lives—then it becomes clear that love is more common than oxygen, and just as unremarked on, often.

I’ve been thinking of love, lately, as something that you could reach out and catch with your hands, hold and twist and shape as you see fit. We swing from one sure handful of love across abysses to the next with not much explicable certainty. I believe love is a force to be interacted with, not to be passively waited for. It is the “Dust” of Phillip Pullman’s novels, strands of energy running through our lives that we can make what we will out of. The combination of such common material with the amazing multitudes we each contain is too potent an opportunity to be ignored or limited in whose turn it is to take part. We are all, to borrow from Hamlet again, quintessences of dust.

And boundlessly so, if we can remember that, live into our best understandings of what that means.

Farming is teaching me more about patience and cycles and transitions than anything I may have ever done before. I see, almost daily, how the labor of my body—led by the love in my heart for the world and my place therein—interacts with the plants in the ground. On Friday, I pounded tomato stakes, hoed potatoes, weeded chard, broccoli and kale, helped uncover beds and beds of cabbage, ate the fruits of last year’s harvest for lunch with the farm team, hoed squash and cucumbers and basil, hand weeded dill, listened to the plans made for the coming weeks, and cleaned the tools at the end of the day. While I worked, I thought of the students I knew who graduated that day and stepped into the world for the first—not last or only—time, I thought of my wonderful and wise sister whose birthday it was, I thought of the friends whose wedding was the next day and all the people I love who would be witnesses to the ceremony and celebration, and was overwhelmed by the dynamic opportunities for being amalgams of love and dust and labor abounding in even a single second of life in this world.

There is always time start again with how you want to be in the world. And to open your eyes and heart to the love and potential that stem from and surround us all. The world will not pass by those who act on the love to be part of it all, at any age, in any month, of any year.

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