you’ve got it all wrong. you didn’t come here to master unconditional love. that is where you came from and where you’ll return.
you came here to learn personal love. universal love. messy love. sweaty love. crazy love. broken love. whole love.
infused with divinity. lived through the grace of stumbling. demonstrated through the beauty of messing up. often.
you didn’t come here to be perfect. you already are. you came here to be gorgeously human. flawed and fabulous. and then to rise again into remembering.
but unconditional love? stop telling that story.
love, in truth, doesn’t need any other adjectives. it doesn’t require modifiers. it doesn’t require the condition of perfection.
it only asks that you show up. and do your best. that you stay present and feel fully. that you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as you.
just to add a little color to the conversation, I wore pull over american apparel and gap yoga bras for years. regular (underwire, clasp, etc.) bras felt uncomfortable and made me feel like a chubster. I stopped in to journelle one day, after noticing a friend’s cute bra. the sales lady asked what size I was planning to buy (34C/36C), looked at my very incredulously, and suggested I get sized. aaaand… the actual size I should be wearing is closer to 30E (is that even a thing?!). I put myself in the hands of the awesome sales team at journelle and let them pick out lots of options in this weird size that didn’t seem real. and they were totally right. now I literally feel like a bra model every day. just like that. it’s magic.
good morning friends! I just wanted to stop in and let you know that I’m still here, planning to come back, planning to write.
this summer has been a little rough, and I’ve been focusing inward a bit more. I’ve sought distraction and guaranteed happiness and to help others. I’ve run on the beach and laid out in the sun and held friends’ babies. I needed a break from thinking deeply about myself. I needed to keep busy.
but I’ve been checking in on you all, and keeping track of your tumblr lives, and I’m looking forward to joining you again in this little community very, very soon.
I have learned things from dan: how to sit quietly beside a person who needs my presence, how to operate a lift and strap a wheelchair into a van. but I am resistant to the idea, occasionally suggested, that disabled people are here to teach us something about the value of human existence, that the rest of us should treasure what we have, for it might be taken from us tomorrow. the lives of disabled people have intrinsic importance, independent of whatever they might offer the able bodied. when accidents like dan’s occur, our first instinct is to scour them for meaning, but there is no cosmic truth here. there is only the random lightning strike, the explosion of a dying planet—only suffering and our capacity to overcome it.
I’m feeling restless, a need to move. it comes in waves — these reminders that this is my home for the foreseeable future. that’s a long time.
my next stop will be international. or maybe someplace rural. or both. I see myself writing and running and practicing yoga and using whatever skills I have to positively impact humanity.
that’s a pretty ambitious plan.
I’ve been dating someone who confidently asserted that he will never live abroad. seemed like a red flag, but it’s tinier and a less vivid red than past flags.
even without that flag, I do worry a bit that I don’t have very strong feelings.
but he’s intelligent and good looking and stable. and he’s nice and he likes me and I should probably just take what I can get. I’m hanging on and hoping a spark grows.
I haven’t felt much like spending time with anyone.
I thought I could handle stopping by a familiar bar to see a familiar face perform familiar music, but instead I just became overwhelmed and heartsick. one song in particular pressed the air from my lungs and I began shifting nervously and nauseously and wishing that I wasn’t alone.
I cried for hours. I felt so frustrated that I couldn’t find some thing that would soothe. I felt a little angry because look at all these people having fun. my mind briefly filled with the things they thought about me because I wiped my eyes and discarded my drink and left abruptly. or maybe they didn’t notice.
I do wish that I didn’t spend so much time alone. but I don’t know how to ask for that. I don’t know who to ask for that. I’m not sure anyone could live up to the deep quiet and stillness that I crave.
I feel like I’m doing this all wrong. I’m not sure how much longer my friends will put up with my failure to respond to their messages, my last minute plan canceling, my irritability and anxiousness. I can’t believe how long this sad is lasting. it feels like forever. the calendar says four weeks.
I ignore calls and messages because I don’t feel much like talking anymore. to anyone. I just want to sit still and breathe.
friends’ voices echo inside me, urging me to abandon the regret, the guilt. I quickly respond that, if we’re doing it right, these bad feelings creep into our brains because we did something wrong. because sometimes we, humans, just deserve to feel bad. it’s the emotional equivalent of touching a pan, hot off the stove — it should hurt, a lot. because if it doesn’t, you’ll just burn yourself and others again and again and never really learn your lesson.
and your lesson is this: you did something shitty to someone. you did something shitty to yourself. now it’s time to learn from your mistakes. your body is producing all kinds of chemicals that will swirl around in your skull and bathe your brain in a cocktail of sadness. you can’t rewrite these scenes that have past, but you’ll learn more, and be better, and you won’t let something like this happen again.
you’ll be kinder and more patient, and try harder and you’ll make sure you never hurt anyone ever, because you don’t want that hanging over you. you’ll wish for love, love, only love.
you’ll spend a lot of your interactions thinking: if this person is gone tomorrow, can I live with our relationship as it stands now. sometimes that means walking away. some people are better off without you. sometimes that means that you honestly say: I miss our friendship. I’d like to fix things. sometimes you reach out, as a reminder of your presence. sometimes you wait.
I spend a lot of my time now working extra hard to stay alive. isn’t that such a weird thing to do and say and live? it first occurred to me last week, as I was walking down a dark street at 10pm with headphones in my ears. I have to make sure I keep being alive until both my parents aren’t. they can’t go through this again. normally I’d keep my headphones in, because, statistically speaking, nothing will happen to me today. but now I can’t rely as much on the numbers. every moment I need to be extra careful, delicate. pay close attention.
every moment is a balance between insanity and life. I can’t control everything, but I can’t not try to be more conscious of the moments within my grasp. running is especially difficult. it’s so much more dangerous than we realize. drive more carefully. eat healthier. my mom could hear my voice cracking after she mentioned that she’d be having ice cream for dinner, since my dad was out of town. eat healthier. please. she did.
I’d like to take a break, find a safe space. someplace quiet, where I can breathe and lie in the sun and listen. silently.
maybe fill that time with reading. or writing. or something else that is silent and methodical and that moves forward. I’m ready to be still and move.
when poetic phrases like “eyes, look your last” become true, all you want is to stay, to hold fast. a new, fierce attachment to all of this world now pierced him, it stabbed like a deity-hurled lightning bolt lancing him, sent from above, left him giddy and tearful. it felt like young love. he’d thought of himself as uniquely proficient at seeing, but now that sense felt insufficient. he wanted to grab, to possess, to devour to eat with his eyes, how he needed that power.
david rakoff | love, dishonor, marry, die, charish, parish
tonight I had a new york city moment — alone alone alone in a sea of people.
it’s one of new york city’s most bittersweet characteristics — sometimes you’re standing shoulder to shoulder with people you know, people who know you, and you just feel so deeply all alone. sometimes, when you just don’t want to be alone at all, you can go to the park at midnight and look out over the city at the millions of people who are right here with you.
growing up, my parents allowed me to believe I could have anything I wanted.
I didn’t have a lot. but I also don’t remember a time when I felt bad because I went without.
we had food. a house. my parents fought fiercely for my education. I had toys, but not too many. my favorite childhood memories are made up of the time we spent together as a family.
they taught me to enjoy the moments, not the things. they taught me to think long and hard about what I had and what I needed. they rarely said no. but I also rarely asked.
but I certainly thought, with hard work, perseverance, and commitment, I could have anything that I really, truly wanted. if I wanted it badly enough, I could find a way. I would find a way.
what I didn’t grasp as a child, and what continues to elude me as an adult, is that this same effort doesn’t translate into people. no amount of tenacity would ensure that someone liked me. or that someone loved me. or that someone stayed. because sometimes people just don’t.
as I lost, I failed to see that I couldn’t stop it. I gripped tighter and stronger and held on longer and hoped harder with every single atom in my body that I could do or say or be the right things. I tried over and over, revising and rewriting, analyzing every interaction to find the point at which I’d stumbled.
and now, as I face the rest of my life without my sister, I’m feeling that familiar slipping feeling. that drowning, suffocating, crushing pressure that accompanied the desire to work harder, to do better, to fix things.
and I feel so deeply angry — angry about every single second I’ll miss. every question I won’t ask, every answer I’ll never know. every funny story we’ll never share, every comforting word I’ll never hear.
sometimes I listen to her voicemails — recalling her voice, how much she loved me.
sometimes I boil with rage, I clench my fists and dig my fingernails into my palms and feel just so furious at every moment I’ll never get, every moment my parents will never have. everything we’re left with, which is just not enough.
sometimes I lose my breath, because I want so badly to hold on better and longer and stronger and glue the pieces back together.
nearly every other loss was finite — even years later, things could be changed, the separation could end in an instant. this here, right now, today, this is when it hit me, hard, that I will never be able to collect enough commitment and passion and diligence to change this.
this loss is infinite. I no longer have my sister. for infinity.
I’ve been asked twice this month about my siblings. I knew I’d be asked about my family and siblings by strangers. unavoidable. I’ve had moments of panic about it. it’s been a month — too soon for me to to say out loud that I had three sisters but now I only have two.
and even if I could say those words without losing it, I wouldn’t even know what to say. do I now only have two, or do I still have three?
I don’t know how to appropriately handle this question. I’m not sure what the right answer is, what people would want to hear if they knew. most people don’t know how to react. they don’t know what to say, they don’t know what I need. I feel like I have to diffuse their awkwardness, pretend I’m ok.
it’s really ok. but it’s really not.
I don’t want to answer questions about how I’m doing. or how my parents are doing. you know the answers to those questions. everything is a mess.
what I’ve found to be very helpful is a hug. a real, strong,tight enough to put everything back together again hug. and maybe someone to say that this sucks. and that they’re sorry. I feel like I’m alone on this island, I’m standing uncomfortably and all I want is to feel connected to someone. I want to feel for just a moment like I’m not alone.
so when I’ve been asked about my siblings, twice, I took an easy way out. I avoided the question. and sometimes I feel incredibly guilty about that.
I had a younger sister and two living older sisters. and now I have one younger sister and one living older sister.
the interesting thing about my family is that because I’ve met my middle older sister only once (two years ago, even though I’ve known about her my whole life), sometimes I’ve left her out when I tell people about my siblings. up until two years ago, she was my sister that I’ve never met.
it’s weird to explain that I have a sister I’ve never met. easier to say nothing at all. it saves people the discomfort of digging deeply into family dynamics. just like most people don’t want to have to know that twenty eight days ago, I had a living sister and now she is no longer living, they also don’t want to know that I have a sister I’ve never met because my family is a little strange.
this complication, though, now saves me. instead of explaining my entire family structure, I begin by telling people about my younger sister. I talk about her in such depth that the conversation inevitably never moves beyond younger sister, and if that person ever asks about my siblings again, or mentions that I have one sister, I have room to correct.
oh no, I actually have two older sisters too… I guess we were so caught up talking about my younger sister that I didn’t have a chance to mention them…
that is my solution for now.
on wednesday, it’ll be a month. I’ve been trying to ignore time, just let it keep passing. I want more and more and more time to be between me and all of this. I don’t want to spend wednesday marking one month — I want to stay busy and distracted and I want to let time continue to pass. faster and faster until I can talk about my sister, out loud, without feeling completely crushed.
“‘i love you.’ for a start, we’d better put these words on a high shelf; in a square box behind glass which we have to break with our elbow; in the bank. we shouldn’t leave them lying around the house like a tube of vitamin c.”—julian barnes | a history of the world in 10.5 chapters
“Before you speak to me about your religion, first show it to me in how you treat other people; before you tell me how much you love your God, show me in how much you love all His children; before you preach to me of your passion for your faith, teach me about it through your compassion for your neighbors. In the end, I’m not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.”—Cory Booker
1. Hug more people because you absolutely adore them, and since time changes everything, make sure to hug them now—make sure to hug them more often. It’s a universally free way to tell them that you care. That you’re sorry; that your heart aches and craves and desires them. Hug them because it’s Wednesday. Because you don’t want to say goodbye. Because after three months of silence, you finally have the courage to forgive them. Hug them for no reason at all.
a few months ago, toward the end of yoga class, we sat on our heels, spines straight, shoulders relaxed, chins tipped down ever so slightly, stretching the crowns of our heads toward the ceiling. our eyes were closed as we spent a few moments focusing on our breath.
one breath for someone you love
one breath for someone who needs it.
one breath for yourself.
at the time, my older sister was living on the third floor of my parents’ house, and things were tense. my sister wasn’t taking care of her health, and my parents worried constantly that their efforts to save her would fail. they tip-toed through their lives, balancing along a line that ran between setting boundaries and fearing that if they pushed her too hard, she’d walk out the door and they’d no longer be able to keep her safe.
I took one breath for my mom, who’d been alone with my sister for a few weeks while my dad renovated a house they’d purchased earlier in the year. my mom had called that weekend to tell me that she hadn’t seen my sister in two days and had spent sunday worrying that she’d have to call my dad to tell him his daughter was gone.
I took one breath for my sister, because I knew she wasn’t seeing clearly how badly things had become. I sent her a breath for strength, because we’d all tried for years to help her and we needed her to help herself.
I took one breath for myself, because I just felt so powerless, because I felt so angry, because I missed the sister I’d loved and admired as a child.
a few tears silently slid along my cheeks.
since that night, I’ve practiced those three breaths countless times. they haven’t always gone to my mom and my sister – my family, or my friends and their families, or acquaintances, or strangers have needed the support that is tangled with those deep, expansive inhales and slow, steady exhales.
last night, though, I once again took those breaths for my parents and my sister and myself. my sister died a little over a week ago, and since then I’ve needed a breath to dispel the helplessness I feel; my sister needs a breath for peace; my parents need a breath to remind them that they are loved.
I’ve been struggling and feeling completely inadequate. I feel uniquely ill-prepared to handle anything like this. I’m angry at my sister, and angry at myself for being angry at her, frustrated that I can’t articulate how I feel, ashamed that sometimes I can’t muster an emotion and other times I’m an inconsolable mess.
I’m totally awestruck by the outpouring of love and support I’ve received – I’ve needed it so much more than I knew I would. I’m exhausted – I’ve barely slept since last sunday. I have no idea what any day is going to be like, and planning for several days from now is a game of chance. I hate using the term passed away, because that’s not how it feels. there is no calm right now, nothing slipping slowly and silently away. her death itself happened quietly, but it feels violent and jarring and heartbreaking.
my sister moved out of my parents’ house about two weeks before she died, so her absence isn’t something that is felt in every moment. instead, I buy vegan cashew-oat waffles and remember that she never hesitated to taste-test the weird and unconventional recipes I insisted on making. I pull her favorite blue dress over my head and remember how much she loved it. I leave her funeral and my first instinct is to reach for my phone, to commiserate with her about how ridiculous our family is. If I focus hard enough, sometimes I can even hear her voice telling me she loves me. and each time I feel that tug of memory, I take a breath.
I just wanted to take a quick moment today to encourage any of you in the NYC area to come out and see Brent play in the city this weekend. He will be on this Saturday night, June 22 at midnight at The Living Room , opening for a very cool band, Star & Micey . The Living Room is an amazing venue and Brent has loads of new material to try out. Go cheer him on for me!
“don’t let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet and the not at all. do not let the hero in your soul perish in the lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. the world you desire can be won. it exists. it is real. it is possible. it is yours.”—
it’s dark because you are trying too hard. lightly child, lightly. learn to do everything lightly. yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.
I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me. when it comes to dying even. nothing ponderous, or portentous, or emphatic. no rhetoric, no tremolos, no self conscious persona putting on its celebrated imitation of christ or little nell. and of course, no theology, no metaphysics. just the fact of dying and the fact of the clear light.
so throw away your baggage and go forward. there are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. that’s why you must walk so lightly. lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.
several people have pointed out that I haven’t been posting here regularly, and I haven’t been writing much.
the thing is, I’ve started one million posts. and then I’ve deleted them. or I’ve stored them away. sometimes I hurriedly write a few lines into a notepad between subway stops.
even now, as I type this, there’s a very good chance I’ll let it all go when I’m done.
I didn’t decide one day to pause writing. it just happened. I don’t know why, but I do know it’s just a pause.
and you know what it is? I just don’t feel like saying things. I feel like I’m having a tough time properly articulating my thoughts. nothing seems right. often, I get a few lines down and then I realize that I just don’t feel like talking today.
it’s one a.m. on saturday and I’m lying on my back, on a friend’s couch, listening to the rain fall outside and to his breathing down the hall and to the little creaking adjustments houses make.
I feel content. I feel unsettled. I feel lucky. I feel alone. I feel young and old, all at the same time. I feel like there are some things that I want. but then in the next exhale, I can’t figure out what I want at all.
I think this is a moment to work things out in my head. that seems to be just as important as writing it all down.