This week's mantra: Make Room for Love
Yes, this is your typical “matra” blog post that totally floods the internet. But I just wrote this down in my journal and thought, I’d love to share what that means to me.
Some of you reading this may know me well, some not so much, but even those who do know me may be surprised by my mantra. The word “love” isn’t very present in my vocabulary. The reason isn’t entirely sinister, I mean really I think I’m the most romantic sucker I know. But the words romance, and love, have a complex and unique meaning to each person. Charlotte Brontë puts it so beautifully in Jane Eyre: “the very name of love is an apple of discord between us.”
The word love, for me, has always been shrouded by fantasy. That’s what happens when you grow up watching Disney princesses and reading Jane Austen. Love becomes fiction, become unattainable, and the opposite of love is hurt. But, as we get older and wiser, we realize that hurt is not the opposite of love, but the very basis of it.1 Love does not exist without the fear or pain that grew it. No, we learn in fact, that the opposite of love is loneliness.
So what I mean when I say “make room for love,” I mean jesus fuckin christ I’m lonely. Not in a “woe is me” way, I mean in a very factual “man I really spend too much time alone” way. And I love having myself for company. I spend everyday working on things I love, but there is a real lack of self-love when I spend my days focused on keeping the loneliness at bay-- distracted by either work or a constant stream of movies. Keeping to myself, thinking about anything but my pain.
And so many of you must be feeling this right now, after months and months of quarantine. Of boredom and distraction. I know the house-bound days are not as many, now, but there is a real sense of “FOMO” as the sun shines high and we can’t gather for large celebrations and embrace that feeling of love from others.
I’ve been thinking about my family in Zacatecas (Mexico), and how every year they gather for a huge celebration, where family from around the world get together for music, food, and conversation, under the small roof that is my great-aunts’ home.2 My experience at my family reunions is honestly very strange.3 I don’t remember most of anyone there, but they all remember me. I went so often as a kid, but my memories are hazy at best from before I was 15. And I was such a bouncy child, they all knew me. The very white daughter of their cousin Tere, running around with everyone and jumping in the pool. I love everyone there, but they are in many ways strangers. I love the town more than anything, the chapel in the middle of town, the dirt roads and the dirtier creeks. The shops, the food, the music. A place that I couldn’t point to on a map for so long, because I was too young to pay attention, became a home to me.
So what I’m getting at here is this connection between love and space. I’m not religious, haven’t been in many years, nor am I spiritual in a tarot/chakra/crystal way.4 But I think I am spiritual in a meditative, therapeutic way. With deep breathing, a daily yoga practice, stillness and reflection, I find myself more at peace with the world than I ever was as a Catholic (or whatever other cult-like obsession I had with a religion over the years).
Through nurturing love for myself, with daily self-care routines, I have more room mentally, and even physically, to process the world around me. It does, however, become increasingly hard to prioritize room for love, when the world keeps failing you and the people who matter most. These last few months have been marred by tragedy, death, destruction, and total heartbreak. Some dear friends have lost people they loved, and I count my blessings every day that my loved ones are safe. A couple nights ago, I experience my first tornado warning. I’m blessed that nothing too drastic happened, but the color of the sky frightened me. My mom called it the power and might of God on display. I agree, not in a “white man in a white robe in the sky pointing his finger at Adam” way, but in a “there are forces in the universe that can absolutely decimate you in the blink of an eye.”
I think about humility a lot these days, the powerlessness we experience as a disease spreads across the word, refusing to be contained. I think about that humility and powerlessness in love, too. When someone we love dies, or leaves us, for better or worse. There is so much to surrender, and it’s human nature to refuse to surrender the things that matter most. In my experience, I have practiced closing out love, to keep the pain at bay, and make sure I am never left or abandoned again. That means that making room for love…. actually means making room for pain, for loss, for disaster. I must humble myself to know I cannot stop the inevitable.
Today’s song, which is posted below, is Hurricane by Slow Meadow, because hurricanes, or any natural disasters, are the perfect analogy for love and loss. The ocean is a beautiful, self-sustaining universe filled with life, but through a series of temperature and pressure changes, it can become the very thing that destroys the life it sustained.
This week, these next few months even, I begin making room for love, and for pain. That definitely means reopening old wounds, to begin healing them properly. And in many ways, I’m not just doing it for myself, but for my art. Not sure there’s a big difference there… but I have been trying to figure out how to approach my next story, and something is still blocking it from fulfillment. That something… is me.
That next story, by the way, is very romantic, in every sense of the word. It’s tragic, and beautiful, because I don’t see the point of telling this story without representing the word “love” in every way.
The image at the beginning of this post is from June, For Short. It's just a sketch right now, from a scene that has been in the book since I first started writing it, eight years ago. Without giving away too much, this scene is probably what the pros call a "climax."
I think I’ve said what I wanted to for now, so I’ll sign off. Stay vulnerable, make art, and make room for love.
1 To be perfectly fucking clear, I don't mean hurt in an intentional way, at all, ever. If you are emotionally or physically abused, that is not love that is dependence. There is a difference that I don't think I'm very qualified to get into. But for the sake of this blog, I mean "hurt" in a very human sense, through disappointment, abandonment, loss, change, etc.
2 This year would’ve been the 23rd Bañuelada, but it was the first one we ever had to cancel.
3 And no, not even my family knows this! You’re all learning something new about me!
4 I’m not trying to talk shit, by the way. I don’t care what you believe in, as long as you’re not an asshole and a hypocrite about it.