Thursday, June 16, 2016
The answer is love
We're on vacation. Lugging all of our beach gear down to the shore the other day I see the flags are at half staff and I'm reminded of the 30 ... no ... 50 men and women murdered at that nightclub in Orlando.
And my heart feels the weight of grief and ugliness and division bearing down on us.
Orlando. I've never been there before. All I know of Orlando is that Disney World is down there. And Shaq.
In my head Orlando is this pre-fab, plastic paradise that's home to talking mice and candy-colored annuals arranged into brand logos and pastel pants and fanny packs. It makes me think of that scene in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," where the knights are preparing to go to Camelot and then the Knights of the Round Table song plays and then the on says, "On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. 'Tis a silly place."
I've always thought of Orlando as kind of a silly place.
Though not this week.
There doesn't seem to be much silly about Orlando. It's lost its glitter. That innocent luster. As it turns out, it's just like the rest of the other places all bloodied by hate.
I'm at the beach, and I want to do something. To say something. To remind myself and my family and all the other vacationers that our lives are so precious and we need to stand by one another and stand up for one another. Hate seems like such wasted energy.
But I'm just little me. And we're all here on these nice vacations on this bright, sunny day. Orlando is probably on all our minds, but for this moment, we don't want it on our lips.
Despite that, I craved this moment of reflection. It was the least I could do on this day as the flag fluttered so mournfully. The very least.
I traced "love" in the sand with my fingers. But it didn't stand out enough. So I filled in the outlines with small stones I collected from the shoreline. Gathering the stones and filling the outline was a meditation. Digging through the sand, finding ones big enough, filling in the outline. Digging some more. I did this for a half hour ... maybe and hour. I'm not sure how long. It became a bit of an obsession.
I ruminated on the word love.
I wrote it, because anything else in the sand seemed to long.
Love is short and simple.
I realized as I was writing love that it is something we should be doing every day. Every minute of every hour of every day even. And if we all did this the best we could, as often as we could the tide might start to shift.
We can write love with whatever supplies we have on hand.
Write love with pens and pencils, with bytes and words and with paint and canvas. Write it with dancing and skipping and with smiling and giggling. Write it with hugs and kisses and with waving, shaking, holding hands. Write it with random acts of kindness and forced acts of kindness (because kindness isn't always easy on angry days).
Write love to the people you love. And write love to the people you hate.
Write love by consoling. By supporting. By standing up for and standing by and standing sentinel.
Write love by being present and alive.
Write love with gratitude.
And if there is nothing else, write love with sand and stones.
Write it obsessively, compulsively and thoroughly.
The tide came in, even as I wrote love.
And so I realized that we have to write love knowing it will be washed away at the next high tide. It is impermanent, so we have to write it again and again. In big letters and small letters. In big gestures and small gestures.
Love can't be legislated. It belongs to us. And it's up to us to use it to make the change we're aching for.
And it it starts with writing love. Branding it in our hearts and on our brains so that it's our first instinct. Love over fear. Love over hate. Love over and over.
By the time we leave, the word Love has been washed away, leaving only a few stray stones and the impression that it once existed there.
I'll just have to write it again tomorrow.
Because that is the only answer. The only remedy. The only solution to this dark terror.
Steadfast, ephemeral, mighty, delicate, world-changing, universe-building love. Over and over again.