I was one of those kids who figured out early on that love was something you had to work pretty hard for. When I was about twelve I remember hanging out all my county fair ribbons- for horse riding and horse judging and crafts and jam- on the wall next to the breakfast bar. I cannot think of a more desperate, ostentatious gesture. Nothing screams LOOK AT ME like colonising an entire wall to display your achievements. Despite going to all that effort to be noticed, my memory is that my home-interior intervention was displayed for months without comment or critique from my parents. Maybe they thought if they ignored me I would get over myself.
I guess somewhat paradoxically, I was not able to be less selfish until I had received an abundance of attention.
I’m not starving anymore. I have some choice now. And I have made a choice to cultivate faith that love exists and if I fear scarcity, that is my cue to drop to my knees, psychically speaking, and surrender. I know, now, that I don’t need to do anything to solicit, extract or seduce love from another. Being secure and full means I can taste all the flavours and textures of love. I’m free to notice (and invite and instigate!) the fleeting glance, the wry comment, the halting touch, the shy invitation, the guilty concern behind the late birthday card. All of these gestures and more smack of love. There is so much love in the world, it is varied and abundant and it is so obvious to me now that I’m not doubled over, engrossed in my own agony and emptiness. Its a weird truth that the people who most need love are the most blind to its existence.
A phrase that has recently been re-charged with meaning is god is love. I get it now. It is there. It turns out I’m a soppy, earnest mystic raving about how its there, humming quietly at the centre of the universe. It’s a faith trick. If I believe it’s there, then it is. If I’m looking for warmth and connection I know I will find it. It might not look how I expected, it might be in a smaller quantity than I would have hoped for, but it will be there, no doubt, if I pour my creative energy looking for evidence of it, naming it, cultivating my palette for it. Surrender doesn’t mean I won’t suffer from frustration or heartache or longing or fear. In fact quite the opposite is true, but maybe I’ve learned to metabolise those feelings better. Surrender also doesn’t mean I love everyone equally or that I only experience love and not hatred or other so-called ‘negative’ feelings.
Surrender means that I’m not controlled by fear- the uneasy belief that love will slip through my fingers or elude me if I don’t lunge for it. Surrender means faith that love is the glue that keeps the universe together, that it is everywhere, that it is god-outside-me, not something I exhume by hanging up some awards. I just have to lie back, tune in and wait for it. And I can’t help but give it- I feel it pulsing through my own veins, emanating out of me as I enjoy how gorgeous other human beings I know are- I can’t help but admire them and take pleasure in their company and be utterly thrilled by them. They don’t even have to show me their blue ribbons to elicit that response from me.
Copyright 2018 Diana Smith
I’m deeply indebted to the graphic memoirs of Alison Bechdel – she has given me a visual language for drawing my memories and both Fun Home and Are You My Mother? are hands down some of my favourite books to spend time in