That fire, repeated


It’s been a tough year. We’ve experienced heavy losses of treasured cultural icons. There are days when I think I will never recover from Prince’s death, or Bowie’s. They felt like family — always there and relevant. And now, on top of the deaths, we are facing the outcome of an election that was unexpected and proving morally challenging, if not dangerous — an ethical death.

I’ve experienced personal shifts, both of my own making and those brought by the intrusion of outside forces. I’ve welcomed some; and others, I’ve vehemently wished away — family illness, please go. Despite all of this, I’m still very sure of this one thing:

What the world needs now, is love — sweet love.

It doesn’t have to be sweet. It could be weathered, tested and cozy. It could even be a tempest, hot and quickly extinguished. However it comes, I demand it. I think we are all desperate for it.

To find it, we need the courage to take risks and be willing to be open with others. We have to give it to get it back. Love is actually pretty simple — as simple as a warm hand on a cold shoulder, a kind glance or just a kind word acknowledging, “I am here today and so are you. At this moment, you are adored.”

When I was a young woman craving love and not sure I was worthy of it, I found my first romance in the pages of books — especially in poetry.

I wrote scores of poems in many journals. And despite my anxiety about speaking in front of others, I used to visit open-mic nights, sign the list and wait for my turn. I’d stand in whatever tiny coffee shop or restaurant, gripping my notebook full of strange verses, inhale and set my voice like an arrow in a nocking point and then let go. What I wanted to be power was often just a shy squeak with the occasional heavy line.

As time went on, I was invited to read. I’d find myself swept away by others telling their own little stories in verse. I was always looking for flint against rock and, most of the time, that came from a writer who stroked the words more than the crowd. 

Back then, I focused on one very special thing — the spark. I was then… I am now, a romantic.

In those years, the tiny verses I scribbled were words of love and adoration about people whom I knew, some who I wanted to know better and, most of all, about the moments when fire is sparked between two people and all else fades into a blur.

When I was considering where to go this week — what to share — I thought to go internal, but without being too personal. The discomfort of discovery and exposure is difficult even when the subject is universal. We’re all tender about our emotions.

Initially, I declined to draw my lamp inward. In fact, I’m really not doing that now. This isn’t about only me. We are all on a quest for the fire that love brings.

My quest is well known to the people close to me. It is an addiction to a very specific interaction that causes the most chaos; and when one is blessed to be in the light of that fire, it is where the best and worst decisions of our lives are made. It’s irresistible.

We are in an era of cultural change. Our anxieties are high and we’ve all been shoved in the middle of maelstrom, wandering nervously and looking for something that has meaning, heart or passion.

We are looking for each other. We’re really all we’ve ever needed. It’s time we started to notice the sparks and make sure that (to quote Pablo Neruda) in us, “that fire is repeated.”

Maybe in those exchanges, we stoke flames that are lasting. Perhaps not; and we meet someone in the middle of a crisis and offer the chance for them to do nothing but catch the breath they’ve been struggling to draw. Whatever we can give, we are bound to receive and right now, if we do little else amidst the uncertainty, maybe we can spread a little love.