Lately, I can’t tell if we are drowning or floating, or if we ever really liked swimming at all.
Love breaks down walls, but in this strange world, we are told we need those walls more than ever.
Where does that leave us, then? A defeated decision to choose safety over community? I won’t resign to that. Perhaps, instead, we choose to learn how to love bigger than a quarantine.
First, we must learn silence. If you are an explorer, my dear, (which I know you are), you must now learn to be the mountain. You must creep in and listen at the feet of the world, while standing tall and unchanging.
The world is struggling and hurting right now. While you listen, you will hear things that you don’t agree with. You will see conversations that will make you red with frustration, and blue with the coldness that so much of the world seems to deliver.
But you are the mountain. And your first breath is silence.
Fear often takes the form of angry words and short retorts. But love? Love is space for understanding.
You are the symbol of patience, dear one. You are not the one searching; you are the one others are searching for.
When the silence is filled and there is room to speak, you must whisper. Start with the small, sweet things.
You stay soft in the hurricane and soft in the silence. You stay warm when the grocery line is long and the kids are loud and the internet is not working and neither are the bills.
Your mantra is, “Thank you.”
Your mantra is, “Praise be.”
Your mantra is, “I love you more than words and more than the sum of every bad day.”
Your mantra is, “Steady,” love.
You send texts that say, “I’m sorry we fought last time I saw you, but man, I sure hope that old dog is still around to keep you company right now.” Or, you call your grandfather or your college roommate. And if they don’t answer, you leave a voicemail that says, “I hope you’re well. I’m thankful for you,” understanding, without regret, that you may not get a call back.
And now, dear one, you speak. You speak with heartfelt words and with readable actions.
You say, “Now feels like a good time to say ‘I love you.’”
You speak, “I miss you,” or “I wish you were here to cook with me,” or “These late nights with Bob Dylan make me wonder how you are.”
You say, “I’m tired, sister. I’m scared about the future and I’m honest about now. Please tell me how you are feeling.”
There is nowhere to be, and everyone is waiting. Give words to the anxiety, make a song out of the fear, sing with others who understand. Don’t feel guilty for joy or for rest or for a moment of quiet and don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t feel like peace right now.
State what you want in your journal or an email, or traced into the snow, the sand, or across the couch from your love. Say, “I want a cat,” or “I want to marry you,” or “I want to move to the beach,” or “I want to write a book.”
Say, “I love your work ethic, but I wish we had more time to talk.”
Say, “The day we sat on the rocks near the lighthouse is the day that I think about when I am feeling alone.”
And when you have mastered the silence, and the whispering, and the voice, you have no choice but to scream.
Scream about who you love and why you love them. Scream that you miss the feeling of sun on your cheeks. Scream that you want to go swimming, and to walk to school, and that you wish you didn’t live so far from your parents.
Cry, if that feels honest; dance if it feels right. Sing with the speakers turned all the way up and tell us that you truly did not know the intensity of being a human until you were told to sit in your humanity.
Let tears bless you. Let exhaustion warm you. Let the restless feelings sit in your legs and in your arms and in your heart and think, “Look at all these things I crave and hunger for that I didn’t know I truly loved.”
Our world is tender right now, cuddled inside our houses with either too many bodies or not quite enough; too much sunshine pouring in or too much rain pouring out; too much unknown banging at the door.
But you, my loved one, with your furrowed brow and worried heart—with the words to speak, and unwritten art—you are in the perfect place to love.