Sticks and Stones

I would make a terrible gladiator.

No matter how angry I became, I wouldn’t aim to wound. The more blows my opponent threw my way the more stunned I’d be that they were. And if they finally tired and walked away I’d walk after them, to hell with the consequences, because I’d still be convinced that the whole thing must be a misunderstanding.

I’m surrounded by much better gladiators than myself, and I’m trying to find the lesson in it as I dodge the blows.

I’m someone who puts a lot of emphasis on words. Maybe it’s because I write, or because they intoxicate me so when I read them. It could be because I crave, constantly crave, to understand those around me. Words are my clues. They are precious to me.

Because of that, I never want to argue. I hate to misplace them. I have the beautiful delusion that if I can just choose the right words, if I can just arrange them in the perfect way then there would be no need for arguments. I live in the belief that malice is usually misunderstanding.

When this belief fails me I am stunned to my core – every single time.

I recently had a week with two battles of my own and I was wounded – far more than my opponents intended – by misplaced words. They branded me and stung long after the voices fell and the calm returned.

It wasn’t the first time it had happened, and I’m sure it wont be the last. So this time I’m determined to take something from it, besides the sting.

So I’m taking this:

I believe we are here to grow. To learn. That our life paths push us in ways that will make us find more of ourselves. I believe that we can crave understanding of others as much as we like, but in the end it all comes back to us. It’s meant to.

I can’t choose words for others, but I can adjust my shield. So next time I will remind myself that the battle is about the fight, not the opponents. I will try to separate myself from it, and find something of beauty in it – because anger can be ugly, but it can also be passion. It can be release.

I will detach myself, just enough, to watch it build like a storm, to not be as shaken by the noise of the thunder, to be in awe of the lightening. To let the words wash over me like rain, leaving me clean.

Because words can sting, but the fight only stings me with them once. Hurried words pass so quickly. It’s me who has picked them up and used them as a weapon against myself.

So I realize that I am actually a mighty gladiator after all – but the one I have been hurting is me.

The words said by others only have the weight that I give them. I have been arming my opponents with my own perceptions.

And I’m not going to do it anymore.

Since the dawn of time there have always been battles, both physical and mental. It is inbuilt in the human condition. Not flaw, just fact.

I’m going to quench my craving for understanding, by understanding that there are times that people need to argue. There are times that they need that fight to really let go and release. I am still going to stand up for myself, and I’m still going to be a peacemaker because that’s who I am. But I’m also going to remember that that’s who they are, and the fight they have in them is theirs, not mine.

Words can still be just as precious to me, they can still mean as much. But from this moment on I will be as careful not to wound myself with others words as I am not to wound others with mine.

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012

DO Love

I usually have someone in my life who breaks my heart a little bit. Their identity changes, and isn’t really important. What’s important is what they teach me.

Sometimes it’s one who walks away from me rather than toward me when I’m crying. Other times it’s one who cannot seem to find ten minutes to look at a photo I’ve taken or something precious I’ve created – a gesture that would mean the world. Then there’s one who talks over my tales and walks out of the room as I bubble with excitement of what I want to tell them. Or the one who scoffs at emotions they don’t share.

These someones say “I love you” often. They make this sound, this word, ‘love’ a habitual noise, a jumble of the alphabet, whenever they see me.

They say love, in these moments, they don’t DO it.

For all of us, at some time or another, our love for others becomes about our own comfort, rather than theirs. Our self esteem is linked to this love because it defines us “I’m a loving person” we tell ourselves “look what I do for them.” Maybe a lot. But when it’s about us rather than them, it’s self love, so lets not kid ourselves. It’s like buying your very favourite peanut butter for someone with a nut allergy. It’s not what they want, it’s us going through the motions for our own benefit.

“I love you” shouldn’t be a habit, it should be a promise – a promise to stretch yourself to be there for the other person as they want or need you.

Stretching for love feels good, it grows your heart and mind.

Doing love is different for everyone. It might mean taking five minutes to put on fresh clothes and some lipgloss before your husband gets home, and taking that moment in the frenzy of witching hour with the kids to take a breath when he walks in the door, to smile at him like you see him, wrap your arms around his neck and linger with a kiss even if you’re distracted by the pot on the stove.

It might be asking, rather than assuming, what your friend or partner wants to do with your time together.

It might be listening, really listening.

It might be trying to read your lovers face and moods without words, to become their own intuitive.

Maybe it’s just really taking notice of the ceaseless chatter that is so important to your child. Maybe it’s saying “yes” in place of “I’m busy” when they come to you with wide eyes and open hearts.

It might be listening to a song with someone you love, to feel how the music talks to their soul.

Maybe it’s digging your heels in and staying grounded in moments your head is in the clouds, because your I love you can be the gift of your absolute presence.

It’s keeping ‘love’ as a verb, as it should be.

I used to believe the saying “Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have”. In a way it’s true, but it forgets something – everyone, every single one of us makes a choice in every moment. Every one of us is capable of more.

So today, I’m going to make mistakes, I’m not going to get everything right, but I’m going to DO love. With every cell of my being I’m going to stretch myself for my family. I’m going to listen to those Lego tales, marvel at drawings, mirror the excitement in my babies eyes as he finds a particularly exciting leaf.

And I’m going to take this gift those someones have given me that I called disappointment and turn it into something beautiful – an ‘I love you’ that I say with my actions.