Why you should care
Because love is hard all around.
The author, an OZY columnist, has written six books and is the host of an OZY video series, In the Barbershop.
During my 54 years, I’ve been in or witnessed my share of heartbreaks. How I have wrestled with the idiotic murmurs of endless love, un-forbidden love, only to have the emotions tumble and fall like sand castles on a beach when the waves come in too fast. Craving a feeling I’d only heard of, I too fell, just like the sand castles. For the better part of my life, my feet remained on the path of trepidation.
Why? Because it was easier to walk on shifting ground than to admit I was wrong.
As a boy I saw my mother and father hug as often as I was blessed to see an eclipse. I watched them dance together as many times as I saw a blood moon. I knew that I didn’t want a relationship like the one I saw at home. Those sordid relationships that seemed to forever be hidden behind the shallow walls of confusion. I didn’t want a lifetime married to ephemeral hope.
So for years I steered away from the words that are often spoken but very seldom acted upon — words like love, faith and devotion. Through my 20s, I dated much more than I care to mention. My desires were all over the place. No matter how many new minds I encountered, for whatever reason, I pronounced them inadequate. Searching for compatibility, I found only needy women, women who seemed much needier than me. I found myself looking in the nooks and crannies of society, its holes in the wall. The world became my explicit toy store, and my anger gave me an edge. In my 30s, I went it alone, ashamed of my choices but oblivious to the destruction I was implementing. A heart that was once full now carried hollowness and fear. I was everything to those who didn’t matter, but to that one person who could help sustain me, I was invisible.
Over time, I would see that the common denominator was me: I was the one who was truly inadequate. I never gave them a chance to lead me to joy. Instead they became victims of my judgment. I learned that for the finger I was pointing toward those who desired to love me, there were three more pointing back at me. That’s right … there’s an idiot born every 27 thoughts. I had become a victim of and a slave to my fears and I was running like the wind away from an emotion that over the years would humble me. I’d been strong to admit I was weak, and had too much pride to admit that what I was lacking all of those years was patience. I was compromising the wrong things, and my inability to see past me made me a prime candidate for loneliness.
Now I’m 50 and the walls of seclusion are closer to the evolution of it all. My knees in kinship with the floor as my elbows embrace the edges of my resting place. I cry out … it’s time to stop … I pray. This emotional inebriation has to cease. I am in search of freedom. A freedom that can only be embraced by a vessel ready to give instead of to receive.
The softness in her touch I would later learn to crave rather than criticize. The ease in her voice I would long to hear rather than revere. The smell of her freshly washed skin would one day become the epitome of everything my nostrils would seek.… Yeah, that’s right, the power of a woman would make me weak.
My craving must become unconditional to outlast that selfish spirit. That selfish spirit must die so that I can give myself to someone. It is time that I own who I am as I learn to respect who I am not. It is not too late to be in unison with a soul that dares to be in unison with me. These ragged clothes of emotional seclusion must be removed, and I must don the garments of responsibility and the shoes of humility. The belt of honesty that firmly fits around my waist shall remain tight enough to secure my integrity. As will the shirts that don my body be stitched with the threads of perpetuity.
As I travel through and about this troubled place, I have come to believe that I am nothing without love. And will always be in search of love’s emotion until I understand that it is OK, it is fair and it is just, to stop being me and learn that it is OK … to be us.