Love Letter to a Cowboy

Why do I love you? You, the very particular you, cowboy?  Ah, you are funny. You are kind. You ask questions about what you don’t understand, which shows a depth of intelligence many do not possess. You have a quiet confidence – oh, I am not sure if that is the right word – a sureness, maybe, of yourself and what you can do that is so very marvelous. You pick up on emotional nuances – I would say you are sensitive, though I wonder if you will like that word. Your voice is beautiful, and makes me shiver. Your honeyed sweetness washes over me and I desire you, always.

Love between men and women in this western culture is suffused with ideas of romance that prove hard to dispel. “I love you” means “I want to marry you.” Or, “I want you to provide for me.” Maybe, “You will take care of all my emotional needs.” Sometimes it merely means “I do not want to be alone.” Romantic love is supposed to be gifts and surprises, roses on Valentine’s Day; diamonds, sexy lingerie, and flowers for no reason…oh, I could go on and on. If happily ever after is the goal, no wonder so many romantic relationships fail: the weight of cultural shoulds and expectations smothering the wild joy that arises in being held by love. That love becomes mere role playing to a set of gender-specific, culturally-mediated behaviours…

Well, anyway, my imaginary friend asks, why is this important? Because my love is very personal, yes? Yes, my love is personal to me, but my love, your love, his love, her love, all loves, really, are one. It is the essence of love, I believe, to make oneself vulnerable. The vulnerability of sharing one’s deepest regret and shame, as well as one’s greatest elation, the most prosaic aspects of our daily lives. To be exquisitely vulnerable: to say what one wants and needs, knowing that one might not get it. To be open: not closed off, fearful, or bound by rules of romance. This is when we become most human, most ourselves…and both life and love become sweeter beyond measure.

I do not know what the future holds, though I say this: let’s do that wild joy thing and see what happens. Flowers are optional.
XOXOXO

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Forest Alchemy

Late afternoon as I sit in my favourite library chair to write, and there is some wistfulness in watching the gathering darkness, for the day has been sunny. While it is mild in January, on Vancouver Island, it can also be grey, and even the weak sun dispersed through clouds enough to bring heightened pleasure, and a sense of lightening, if not quite the friskiness of spring. The forest that I hiked this particular day was thronged with people, in contrast to its usual vast emptiness, and I confess that the experience that I go to seek was somewhat lacking. I find myself pondering the meaning of that experience, for me.

I encountered only one other solitary hiker, a man I see often enough to recognize and we share only nods and smiles, nothing more. Every other group is noisy and talkative and somewhat overwhelming with their questions and chit chat and neon-bright human presence that seems to shout a spastic greeting at me. I’ve been known to hike with selected friends: friends selected for their quiet conversation, and enjoyment of the forest sights and smells and sounds. I also prefer hiking companions who don’t wear neon colours, but this may be a prejudice I should strive to overcome. Perhaps neon would be disquieting to a bear or other wildlife, and surely it would help in not getting lost. And rather mean of me to poke fun at neon-wearing, smelly-with-fragrance, shouting humans. But clearly the experience they seek is socially constructed, whereas I – hmmmmm, I seek other.

I am conscious of my body in the sense of its pleasure in movement, and, at times, super-conscious if I must cross steep terrain or ford a stream. But mostly, my body, like my thoughts, settles to a background song to the delight and joys of the forest – the fifty shades of green of the temperate rain forest, the creak of the forest canopy, the rustlings that tell of foraging birds or squirrels or what have you. The moist and fragrant air – the fragrance of loam, and branch, and decaying vegetation that builds the forest anew. The sights that unfold slowly, at a walking pace, slowly enough to take it all in and to find new details even on a well-familiar trail.

Often, when I return to my truck at the end of the trail, I must sit for a few moments to awaken to my return to the busy world. My consciousness needs to shift into doing, instead of being – which seems paradoxical, as hiking is doing of some sort. Nevertheless, too abrupt a transition is disquieting to me. It may be that my ramblings have given you the impression, my imaginary friend, that I am just an introvert seeking solitude. But truthfully, I sit squarely in the middle of the introversion/extroversion scale, being a seeker of solitude while enjoying the social immensely; indeed, with a need for both in my life. I find I can come up with only one word to describe what I seek – which is intimacy. I become intimate with my body, my thoughts, and my place in the wider surroundings in a way that seldom happens elsewhere, and which also seems to be a kind of alchemy. To become, for a time, truly wild and free.

I am left with this last reflection: that this thrilling wildness and freedom I seek comes through a deep intimacy… which strikes me as a lovely metaphor for both life and love.

Forest Alchemy of Another Day

Forest Alchemy of Another Day