I Know Love

Dear Reader,

Delays in airports. It happens. Sometimes the unexpected happens. The fog settles in and stays for longer than anticipated and you’re grounded.

Step back to the spring semester of 2012. Call it the Year of Departures. That’s when the back and forth started. A young poet, teacher, and dreamer who couldn’t make up her mind about what she wanted to be when she grew up, let alone where she wanted to be. She wanted to have it all. No rules. No set place. Just to exist in the drift.

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I’ve written this sentiment before and I’ll more than likely write it again. The journey takes you to unexpected beautiful places. Sometimes you just have to look for it. Last month my journeys took me from North Carolina to Oregon to Washington to New Mexico, and back to Colorado for work outreach, poetry performances, and public speaking engagements. It can be exhausting and tiresome traveling all the time but I will say this – we have to train our eyes to see the beautiful in everything. I’ll relate this to my recent North Carolina trip, the flight left at 7 AM, which meant leaving our hotel at 4 AM to make sure we got there on time. Distance can be more than you bargain for. Near the airport, my assistant director and I filled the rental with gas and when I’m that-kind-of-tired sometimes I can’t help but ask myself “what am I doing here?” I looked up through my tired eyes to see the street the gas station we chose was on. Dedication.

Now imagine that. Refueling on Dedication. So poetic. So Simple. Truth. To me, these little things are signs, signal posts to show you that yes, you are right where you need to be. It’s the getting up early, the sometimes-dragging-yourself from gig to gig, place to place to serve your purpose. To do what you are called to do takes Dedication. It takes heart. It takes Love. Then begs the question: shouldn’t we also train our eyes to see / notice / know Love, when we see it?

To know love, I continue to exist in the drift.

It’s no secret Dear Reader, if you’ve ever read anything I’ve ever written or had a conversation with me, you know, above all things – I believe in love. I’ve moved for love many times. Moved for a job I loved, for people I love(d) or thought I did. Just like you I’m still living and learning and I’m finally at a point in my life where I feel like I’m started to get it right more than wrong.

In the Years of Departures, I’ve started to learn and embrace the idea that you know love when you see it.

I fly so often I get to observe all kinds of people. Waiting curbside for a cab or ride from the person picking you up you get to notice the comings and goings. The faces of people during the return or the departure tell you a lot about a person. People cry hugging goodbye to loved ones. Sometimes they linger long after the person has gone inside. They sit in their cars head on steering wheel lightly sobbing before picking their heads up and glancing in the rearview mirror to fix their makeup or wipe away the tears.

Long flights and longer drives on stretches of road that often don’t have many places to pull off can exercise your mind. On the stretch from Portland to Pendleton, OR we passed a truck carrying parts of a bridge. Something about that image. The truck. The bridge. The metaphor of taking something apart that was intended for connection somehow that reminded me of a dream I’d had the night before about someone I love(d). In the dream I was about to say “I love you,” but woke up just before I could say it.

Outside of the dream I thought I had said it through action, my actions of continuing the drift.

But, like I said – journeys don’t always go the way you planned them. Sometimes the fog settles in and maybe it’s so you can stay grounded. Perhaps sometimes you’re meant to connect with others who are grounded in the same way in the same place at the same time.

Let’s call the “not-working-out” portions of our lives Wounds of Passion. You try to make something work, you try to make a connection, but sometimes someone you couldn’t see took the bridge apart. Maybe it was even you who unconsciously broke it off piece by piece to be transported to another place intended to bridge another gap with someone else. Something you didn’t even see coming.

It is now the fall of 2014. This year has become the Year of Return. The back and forth continues though not as frequently between two places as much as it is traveling all over, to unexpected places. I am still the young poet, teacher, and dreamer who couldn’t make up her mind about so many things, but I know I am getting that much closer to something beautiful, to love. The Year of Return has been a rededication to teaching, to passion, to meeting people who are also dedicated to doing and sharing what they love. The Year of Return has been training my eyes to see/know love.

“Not everyone goes to poetry readings to find love. She did.” – bell hooks

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I teach poetry to find love. Sharing the passion, being unafraid to show my own wounds of passion through poetry and storytelling I think helps others find love to. We learn to love ourselves through poetry & art. In teaching poetry, in performing poetry, I’ve been drifting even more than I originally intended. But I’m learning to see the world through different eyes. Eyes that help me know love when I see it.

During one of my writing workshops I gave the following prompts: I know pain… I know joy…. I know love…. I had my students concretize the abstraction. What images, people, sights, sounds, memories, or experiences help them know – pain, joy, and love. One student had written something about knowing love through a family member drinking, seeing the bottoms of bottles. This brought the student to tears reading it. It continues to create the same emotion in me. Working with youth and teaching them poetry has helped me understand more and more how important it is for each of us to know love even in moments of pain and joy. I see that love is inextricably tied to being seen.

I feel and see love more and more how art and passion and love for all of those things can help heal people. Music, poetry, art, writing…all are ways to help us see the world in a beautiful way and they are ways we can make ourselves seen. I’ve been very fortunate this year to cross paths multiple times with fellow performers and artists. One group of performers I have seen continually heal people and communities through their music.

One of my friends/colleagues asked me “what do you all talk about when you see them?” We talk about so many things. We laugh. We tease. We joke. We can get into really in depth conversations about life. I won’t divulge specifics in what we all talk about (that is a shared special place) but I will say, I think they’re teaching me even more about love in ways I cannot fully fathom just yet. Through their passion and love for what they do and who it is for, their understanding of the music/art/craft being about something more….all of that further inspires me to love what I am able to do as a poet and writer even more. They help me even better understand the responsibilities of handling and using the gifts we’ve been given. It is further training me to see Love and I will say that knowing them has helped me be a better teacher, leader, mentor, and director who serves the youth, students, and people I work with.

Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Today is about remembering and celebrating our continued resilience. I think about all of our ancestors and those before us who sacrificed their lives to make our living possible. I know love in that sacrifice. I know love in making sure we continue with our traditions and culture for those who will follow us. I know love through loving intensely & passionately.

I know it through continuing to exist in the drift, through struggling. Love is never easy. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, more than I’m happy to admit but that doesn’t stop me from putting myself out there to make love possible, and most importantly, to make doing what I love & living a life I love unapologetically possible.

I wish the same for you on your own journey to love and loving. So I’ll end with saying Dear Reader, I hope you know love when you see it.

I see you.

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