This isn't a post on how I met and fell in love with Kirk, though such a post would be fun and, I think, redemptive to write at some point. Rather, it’s about learning to fall—and be caught—by the billowing pillow of love that exists right behind us all the time, if only we could learn how to fall into it.
Someone recently observed that I seem to let other people govern what’s true about me, and I have to admit that I do. If I receive a compliment, some skyrocket high kicks in that believes I’ve been rendered immortal and can now do no wrong in this world. If I’m judged or criticized, then I burn in shame and condemn myself for valuing or representing the thing that’s been judged. If I turn around and happen to impress someone, then I believe again that I can accomplish anything and that no hope is too high for me to capture. And if I fall short in someone’s eyes in the next day or hour or minute, my stomach jumps into my throat and I can’t breathe too well, and I believe I’m beginning to die a burning, scorching, slow, humiliating death.
This seriously goes on in me every day, for as long as I can remember.
What stopped me up short was when this same person followed up the observation by saying, “I don’t actually want that kind of authority in your life. It’s not why I’m in relationship with you.”
Really? I’m embarrassed to admit this was an actual shock to my system. I’ve been walking around all this time believing people actually want this power—that they want to judge and praise and condemn and coo and see people run in a windswept frenzy to meet their preconfigured sense of reality. I have danced that dance every day. But could people—mature, compassionate, loving people—actually want something different?
I’m coming to see that living at the whim of other people’s valuations makes you crazy. You can’t win. You never rest. You inevitably fail. You’re left running and jumping and dancing for life, just to keep up and not die.
How does one let it go? If you’re a trained performer, how do you become untrained? Can a ballerina unlearn the five positions? Can a pianist unlearn the width of an octave? My next post will be an attempt to answer this question, primarily based on the new belief it's all about this falling into love business.