Without friendly smiles or words of comfort the Earth would still turn on its axis, the sun would still rise in the morning and the tree would still grow in the forest. Unbound by any physical or metaphysical laws it then stands to reason that whatever we choose to do for others springs forth from the purest source within our souls, the single most beautiful word ever uttered by mankind and the greatest of its achievements: Love. It is our driving force. Although many might disagree, after all greed, power, and ego are quite the strong contenders, I know twice as many more cock-eyed optimists who like me see the inherent benevolence in people; not because they have to but because they choose to. They choose to love and in the attempt they make themselves vulnerable to their own downfall but still they give, they try, they risk, they sacrifice. They believe in a love powerful enough to move mountains- literal and allegorical- a love so urgent, so deep, so big, so ready to burst that the physical body cannot contain it. A love not fettered to romantic love alone but all-encompassing. For there is love so dark and hidden that it becomes a sickness, a venom for which no antidote exists. Love is terrible, irrational, and mercilessly asks for total surrender.
There’s a story in my favorite book (“Eleven Minutes” by Paulo Coelho) which has stayed with me since I first read it… A woman and a colorful bird fall in love but the woman terrified that the bird might leave her traps him in a gilded cage. Years pass and as the woman loses interest the bird loses his glossy feathers. Eventually the bird dies and the woman grows sad and when thinking of him only remembers him in flight but never the cage. She realizes that what she loved most about the bird was his freedom… When we leave this life we take nothing with us, not even our bodies. All we have are the memories. All we can do is love those birds openly hoping that they will accept it because you can’t wrench open that which wishes to remain closed and you can’t hold on to that which doesn’t want to be had. If it's all an illusion you can't cage them anyway. But love them anyway, and get hurt anyway, and love again anyway- even harder next time and for no reason other than to love. Because maybe if you’re really lucky they’ll love you back. Not because they have to but because they choose to.
I'm a woman in love with it all! I’m a woman in love with words. Words, words, words that I need like the air in my lungs. I’m a woman in love with this City- its bustling subways, its tall skyscrapers, its mercurial weather, its empty park benches, its Sunday brunches, its blaring sirens, its tulip-lined streets, its outside markets, its chokingly hot days finding relief into chokingly balmy nights. I’m a woman in love with her art- its highest highs and its lowest lows and how the two can interchange within a span of mere seconds. It is agony and it is ecstasy. It is masochism. But I’d choose no better way to spend my days than in extremis. I want to experience everything in great gulping doses. I don’t wish for satisfaction. I wish for life! Messy, complicated, scary life. But above all these I’m a woman in love with those birds without whom my life would hold no meaning. The birds that throughout my entire sickness, from diagnosis to recovery, showered me with so much love. It is a testament to their unwavering support and kindness that I never once felt alone, despite the fact that many of them were 1,288 miles away. Thank you for every single card, flower, call, text, Facebook message, email, letter, care package, Skype session, visit, plane ticket, taxi ride, train ride, low-fat calorie ice cream pint, hug, kiss, water glass, Kleenex tissue, Shake Shack caramel shake, lentil soup, Grey’s Anatomy marathon, furry paw, and 4 hour long conversation. You make my life worth it. So thank you. Thank you for loving me back. Not because you have to but because you choose to.