We have known each other a long time. You have been a difficult mirror for me: all the ways that I couldn’t or wouldn’t show up, all the things I feared from you, my willingness to walk away rather than face you some days.
Over the years, I’ve come to understand that this is also your strength. You are unflinching, and to be present and in relationship with you, I must be too. When I was 21, I knew I should do this, but didn’t know how. And this past year, I’ve learned that painful events still sometimes drive me towards you and the pattern we’ve built together over the years, and sometimes away. There are still things I am afraid to face but know I won’t be able to avoid in my practice.
But I also know some things now that I didn’t know then. I’m a lot nicer, for one thing: to other people, I hope, but also to myself and by extension, to you. I have many more tools for staying with myself when things get tough, and so I have more ways to stay with you, too.
Maybe this is your lesson right now: there are no circumstances under which I don’t have to stay with myself.
The other day, I was talking with a friend about her aging parents. She recited a litany of tiny tasks she had done for them: cutting toenails, tying shoes. That’s what love is, we said, and it’s true. A thousand tiny, daily things. Ordinary things. Of course, love is special and wild and overwhelming and beautiful and heart-shattering. And it’s tying someone’s shoes. Putting dinner on the table. Listening to the story of an ordinary day.
Love, I think, is a lot about showing up, and this is another thing you’ve shown me. I don’t have to be perfect every day. I don’t have to be ecstatic to show up, even. I just have to be there, laying down the pattern that will carry me when I need it to, choosing to do what I can. That’s what it means to love you, and myself, and the world.
Let’s keep doing it.