Chapter Twenty Nine
“Y’see, I feel sorrier for you than I do for him because you’ll never know the things that love can drive a man to – the ecstasies, the miseries, the broken rules, the desperate chances, the glorious failures and the glorious victories. All of these things you’ll never know, simply because the word “love” isn’t written into your book.”
-DeForest Kelley as Doctor Leonard McCoy
At first, I honestly didn’t know how I would articulate my thoughts for this chapter, much less know what to put it in it. I’ve known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph. I’ve known what it is to feel a sure thing and I’ve known what it is like to be on a branch so far away from the tree. I’ve tried and failed and I’ve also failed to try. I’ve also tried and found success and I’ve succeeded in trying. One thing I honestly don’t know or even really understand is why things work the way they do. More to the point, why do people even try? There had to be some reason.
Sure, we all know what love is or perhaps what it may look like in our lives. A willingness to go above and beyond or perhaps even an overwhelming attachment to something or someone. But, the more and more I look at it, the more and more apparent it has become that there is a clear and succinct difference between love and something to love. For a good part of my adult life, all I really knew was what it was like to love something that didn’t love me. All I knew was failure despite the best intentions and calculated efforts. I had come to know that anything I had ever come to care about didn’t reciprocate in the end. The feeling of betrayal kills love.
I’m not going to speak my mind about what it feels like to be stabbed in the back. I’m sure everyone has or everyone will be at some point in their lives. It’s not a feeling I wish upon anyone or one I care to repeat enduring. However, like most instances that leave us feeling heartbroken and wondering why bad things happen, it is a learning experience.
If I learned anything, I learned how to completely misunderstand what it meant to actually be betrayed. At first, I thought feeling betrayed meant a breach of trust and understanding. Don’t get me wrong, I honestly believe that betrayal is exactly that. But, I have to believe that it is more than just a breach of trust. We trust people to do their jobs. We trust our pets to not bite us. We trust our methods of transportation to get us where we need to go. Does that mean that when we are put in a position to make different choices as a result of our faith in these things not being justified constitute being betrayed? I don’t think so. It’s a fact of life that things are simply put unable or not wise to be trusted. For there to be some kind of betrayal, there has to be some level of loyalty. Loyalty is paramount in any kind of relationship. The question remains: If someone has any shred of understanding of what loyalty is, why would someone consciously break that bond?
Understanding why someone would do that is the real brain buster. We can come up with whatever reason we like but I have only been able to come up with one and eerily inescapable conclusion: We betray the things we care about because we don’t care enough to place their importance to us in a context that adequately defines their importance. It’s a trial in itself to put things in their proper place and have a reasonable expectation that they will all interact in an intended manner. But, we’ve built this idea that where things don’t matter as long as we can go to them when we need them and typically when we are in distress. As a result, there’s this illusion that we are only loyal so long as these things cooperate. To me, it just means that it isn’t important enough to place proper context on those things. Given all of those things, what does it mean to be betrayed?
That could mean a lot of things. It could mean that we are just expendable, plain and simple. I’d hate to believe that at any point we can just be thrown away. It isn’t in our nature to be wasteful in that regard. It’s more like a condition that society has imposed upon our behavior. It could also mean that our feelings and/or situation have changed to a point where those things don’t hold a place in our hearts anymore. Over a long enough timeline, we all can be a victim of changing conditions. It’s just a fact of life. But, the one that really gets me is that we’ve betrayed ourselves. We’ve placed the things we care about in such esteem that they don’t offer an objective vision of the role they play.
I mean, come on… we are all guilty of that one. We place things on an undue pedestal and overvalue them because we come to believe that those things are all we have. This one resonates with me because I have had a problem with giving places and things a fair and objective role. But, the part that hurts the most is how we quantify people. They can be our best friends or our worst enemies. They can be our saving grace or vengeful wrath. They can hold the pinnacle of our own potential or be the unforgiving floor in which we esteem ourselves. We suborn mutiny in our own existence because we don’t honor ourselves enough to be loyal to our own character or the idea of who we may want to become. It’s hard to be in agreement when we are conflicted about what our own value is and especially when we arbitrarily place value on others.
I’ve been in the unenviable position to be able to sit down and analyze what happened to make me feel like I’ve been betrayed. It has to start somewhere, right? It isn’t so much what happened to find yourself separated and adrift in the wind but understanding why you’re there is the greater purpose. I spent the better part of two years asking myself why things happened the way they did. I asked God. I asked myself. I asked people who had an idea. To this day, there are still unanswered questions. I’m okay with it because I got over it. I had to do something different. I needed different. There was no escaping it. The bitterness of betrayal and the death it brought me took nearly everything from me.
Two years is a long time to just be. I hardly had any friends and I was stuck in a job I honestly didn’t like. I had nothing else that offered a reason to change. I had lost all perspective on what it was like to try. Failure had instilled such certainty that the desire to try died along with most of my feelings.
Like any good comeback story, something changed. I found something that I thought I had lost. It can come from anywhere and it can be utilized in such a mundane manner that you’ll just overlook and think nothing of it and move on. For me, it was Ultimate Frisbee. I didn’t think it would be relevant either, trust me. Such is life, though. Looking at it now, it was a pretty hard slap in the face coming from something you love. Oh, the irony…
It’s hard to really identify what love is if you’ve never experienced it beyond the surface level. Do not get me wrong, there are many ways to experience love and different types of love but what it imeans transcends any way you may potentially interact with it. Of all the feelings and emotions that we experience, love is the enigma. You can’t really define it or articulate the effect that it creates and how it colors everything around you. If they say fear is the ultimate motivator, love is the ultimate facilitator.
Being in a process of growth and learning has taught me a thing or two about myself. It’s taught me a great deal about risk and objectivity. But, the big lesson has been what it means to have love, be in love, and to love others in a way that honors their importance to me. As a matter of personal experience, I haven’t been in a real position to express love. I’ve lusted over things and people. I’ve been loved. I’ve loved someone who didn’t love me. I’ve stood by and let someone who loved me do so with no real intention of reciprocating. There have been many circumstances that have alienated my ability or desire to seek love. But, in the midst of all of those things, I don’t think I’ve ever lost my ability to seek it. I’ve put it on the back burner, lost it, ignored it, and I’ve walked away from it. But, it has not ever been lost to me. Maybe, that’s the start of the process of recovery.
I feel like I’m in a position where I can say that if there wasn’t a part of me that didn’t care enough to seek change, it would be safe to say that I’d either be emotionally embattled or I would be dead. I’ve been in some deep, dark pits. It has been a challenge to be in a place now where I don’t feel like I’m climbing an insurmountable mountain. For people, such as myself, who have been in the absence of love, taking on challenges as simple as getting up every day become wars in themselves because the stresses are battles not worth fighting. Every day that love was absent was another day that I didn’t feel that was worth living.
Like I’ve mentioned so many times, change has to be an enduring process. Most people make changes because they feel like they have no other choice. Some people make changes for the sake of the things they love because those things are manipulating them. But, there are those out there who choose to change. They love whatever it is enough to freely offer their individual wants and desires for the sake of a grander vision. I think to myself every day just what that may be like to do because there isn’t any legitimate opportunity for me to do such a thing. Sure, I offer my time and resources for people and things I care about and I am happy to do so. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I love them. I thought that’s what love was. Boy, I was mistaken
Over the last three years, I’ve gotten to experience what I believe love is. I believe that love is more than just a sense of appreciation, loyalty, and honor. Those qualities can be faked or demonstrated under coercion or selfish ambition. I believe that love is finding a reason, no matter how small or insignificant to continue on when there isn’t one. I believe that love facilitates life. I believe that you can’t find life without love. There wouldn’t be a reason to endure failure and tragedy if there wasn’t a reason to believe that success and triumph couldn’t come from it. I don’t think any of us would pursue those things in earnest intent if we thought they weren’t attainable. I don’t think we could love those things if there wasn’t a chance, only if it were a small one.
I’ve learned what it is like to love and be loved in return. It’s an amazing feeling and it has added color and vibrancy to something that had been dull and lackluster. As much as I’ve wanted to retreat back into some old habits, the desire to continue has always been present. So many times that I’ve asked myself the same question and so many times I haven’t been able to come up with a good answer. Well, an answer that I could be content with, anyway. However, in spite of my own reasoning, I’m still here. I suppose that is a testament in itself. It could be love. It could be that I just don’t have any other choice. Who knows? It’s the mystery of the journey.
Whatever the reason may indeed be, I can only be sure of one thing: No matter how I’ve felt about anything, the fact of the matter is that I’ve found enough love to continue forward and not be fearful of where it may lead me. Life can be a very scary thing and who knows how it may challenge us in the future. But, if there is one thing that has been proven evident about it, it’s this: There’s no reason to face those things unless you love the life you’ve made enough to either embrace change or change so you can embrace it.
Maybe, that’s what the meaning of Life is after all.