This boy has a beautiful heart. His heart knows how to love.
You could even say his heart /knew/ how to love, even before he was born.
In the other world (the one we live in before we are born into this one), this boy spent all of his time loving things. Rocks, bugs, trees, people. He breathed in love, and breathed out love, like it was air. And whatever or whomever he loved, loved him right back. He was simpatico with everyone, with the whole world, and they with him.
He would say “I love you,” and his ears and being and eyes would fill with the joyous multi-dimensional chorus “I love you too,” enthusiastically responding from the love-filled object of his beautiful love.
He was whole, utterly and purely.
One day, not long after he was born into this world, he looked right into someone’s eyes and beamed his specialty. “I love you” radiated out of his being like an invisible bell, the kind of sound you would hear in every cell of your being as the sun breaks across a mountain ridge at dawn, if dawn sang. (I know, it does, but not everyone knows that)
The truth of beauty, as only babies embody.
Only this time, as he gave his gift, the echoing response didn’t come. It wasn’t empty or silent, per se, but it didn’t sound quite right. In fact, it was more complicated, more strange than he remembered hearing, not the “I love you too” response he always got in the other world.
It was so strange to his little boy ears and soul that, try as he might, he couldn’t hear any simple “I love you” at all coming back. It felt mixed, different, a bit needy, maybe even scared.
But he didn’t know these things yet, and of course not the words we use to describe them, much less the feelings that started to slowly pop like bubbles across his porous, sweet little body. He just knew something wasn’t right.
Just to make sure you get what I’m saying, this boy was accustomed, in the other world, to hearing back pure love whenever he connected with another being. To him, love and love went together like burgers and fries (an association he would later learn to appreciate), so this new dissonance, this oddly confused and needlessly (to him) complicated world made no sense, no sense at all.
As time went on, he kept loving things. Rocks, bugs, trees, people. Over time, he noticed the complications seemed to mostly come from the people (there that was that one altercation with a bee). He tried to love them like he had always done, but something very sad started to happen.
He started to expect the complicated response to his love, and soon, he even started to withhold and doubt his own love.
Somehow, through this process, he started believing he didn’t actually have the love that he had always given away so freely.
He didn’t believe in his own love anymore.
And soon he started to go looking for the love in other people, as if they had it.
Over time, like a gosling in a scrum of ducklings, his call pattern to the world sounded less like his native, constant, assured, endless love he had come from and more like the complicated, confused, noisy, strange, needy sounds he was now paddling along with, rampant and odd.
After a while he had forgotten the other world entirely. He had assimilated into the culture of this world.
So was joined his quest to find his one true love (which was really just a coalesced projection of himself — his vestigial, unconscious memory of the loving other-half of creation from the other world) by always looking out and asking – again, with his body if not (usually) his words: “Do you love me?”
Things happened. He met people, he tried things, experiences, drugs, places, ideas, religions, Burning Man.
He even joined a cult or two, initially bewitched by their crafty but ultimately false approximation of the other world.
(Money seemed promising, but he quickly recognized it only as an energy that connects things, and not the thing itself.)
Through all this – now less a boy and more a man – he sensed there must be somewhere he could reunite with the vague knowing that somewhere, somehow, the thing he could now name as love might be found.
He joined Facebook.
Suddenly, a world of possibility opened up.
Here was, at long last, the key to all of his problems!
He could look for love, advertise for love, write poetry and post photos to attract an attention that felt almost like love.
The thing about being online was that – here was a place he could get attention for talking about all the things he really wanted to do in the world – and even was doing – but, if he was honest, he would admit it was a ratio skewed more to talking than doing.
Maybe 10:1, maybe worse. (sometimes a lot worse :-/ )
Time wore on. He spent his 30s scrolling mindlessly, endlessly. He knew it was wrong, but he couldn’t stop.
Every now and then an experience satisfying enough to light him up from head to toe – usually when he got over 100 likes – would convince him this was all a great, fruitful idea. It would all definitely be worth it, one day.
He had the 1000s of friends to show for it, and that was worth something. Or it would be. One day.
Then something happened.
No one knows for sure what it was. Some say he got his heart broken by a woman he met at Burning Man. Others say a strange dream sort of snapped him awake. Still others say a mysterious encounter with a shadowy figure from the woods beyond his farm pointed him in a new direction.
No matter how it happened, one day, he remembered.
What did he remember?
You know it don’t you?
You must remember what it was that was powerful enough to all of a sudden wake him up out of his trance, and push him into what was to become his new life. What was it???
What he remembered – the thing, so powerful that it hit him like a sack of flour tossed through a wall of rice paper – was that he remembered what he LOVED.
But not just what he loved… HOW he loved, WHERE he loved, WHO he loved, and most most most importantly of all, WHY he loved.
The funniest part of all of it was that it had all been with him all along, he had just forgotten it!
He remembered that he loved other people.
He remembered that he loved his body.
And he remembered that he loved the land around him, the ground.
The three strands of this love braid – people, body, and place – sang out through his body like that love he gave so generously in the other world. When he looked closer he even realized it was the stuff most of his posts were about, most of what they pointed to…
But the thing was, there was a way that posting about it, advertising about it, and most especially (and most foolishly) expecting the online world to BE and PROVIDE or even RECOGNIZE it – all of these were not just misuses of his energy, distractions of his love – they seemed to be subtly but actively SUCKING, actually EATING his love and energy, leaving him with less to give out in ANY context, offline or online.
He was literally living, seeing and acting as if love of place, body and people connection weren’t real, they were just things you dabbled in and talked about online in order to get likes and slowly, excruciatingly, soul-killingly build a so-called platform that could one day be used to sell more of the same self-eating, pyramid-scheme, faithless experience of blasé so-called “content” to others with a similarly fashioned hunger.
He remembered he loved actually connecting so much, and he remembered why, and he knew, in his bones, his actual bones, he only had one chance to save his soul, one chance to turn it all around. He knew it was a bit of a Hail Mary, he knew there would be haters (Yoko Ono said up to half), he even thought about keeping his online profile but spending less time online and still being able to use his platform to share his discoveries (some say a mature, even level-headed solution), but his wise soul rejected that on its face.
No, he knew just the presence of this fool’s gold in his life was too tempting.
Like an alcoholic, he couldn’t afford to keep a sixer of Bud in the fridge, even if intended for friends.
What was necessary – exciting, liberating, confronting – was a total reset.
If he was going to make it through this passage, with the amount of life energy he had left at his disposal, he would need to throw everything, all his attention, into connecting to body, place and other people. Of course there would be time and contexts to write about it and share it with others – but only after and inside and from within – and anyway he couldn’t worry about all of that now.
He knew one day it would all make sense, and if it didn’t, well he was willing to fail because the journey itself would be worth it.
He knew he could never get back to the other world. That was gone. But he could live the otherworld in THIS world.
And so That’s. Exactly. What. He. Did.
(To be continued…)
To keep up with how this story evolves, and the revelations, gardens, dances, communities, families, arts, cultures and hopes that sprout up around, within and because of it, drop your email below. I receive each address as a sacred invitation to connection through body, place and community – and all the ways we relate in between.
I’ll be around a few more days before I decamp.
I love you all.