I’ve always said that the longevity of a relationship doesn’t necessarily equate with how meaningful it was, and living in such a transient community has truly shown me this.
In the lake, you come across a lot of people who are only here to party, but you also come across a lot of spiritual people – the travellers. Let me be clear, by spiritual, I do not mean religious, rather, the type of people who live their lives spiritually. The type of people who believe in things beyond themselves, and in living in such a way that you better the world simply by existing. The ones who haven’t adopted the lifestyle with the use of their parent’s money, but have dropped society’s ideals of a steady life, job, and family to replace it with a life of experience, learning, and community.
I’ve learned the most from these people. And so, some time ago, I got into the habit of quickly whipping out my phone to record phrases when one of these folks would drop a golden nugget of wisdom without even being aware of its impact. This blog will probably be inundated with them at this point.
The first is from a hitchiker who crashed at my house for four days last month. I will probably never see her again, and yet, in those four days she still touched my soul.
While quietly talking one night, she leaned in and gripped my arm, softly, but with some amount of fervor pulsing through it. It was halting when she talked, and you could tell that she was carefully choosing her words – partly out of the foreigness of the language, and partly, I expect because she was nervous of the subject.
“Do you think it is possible to love two people at once?”
I responded slowly, a little hesitant as to where the conversation was going.
“I don’t think I believe in love the way you believe in love.” Was my final response.
A raised eyebrow, a tightening of her grip, and a heavily accented “example?”
I told her how my experience with love has not been horrible, but has also not been something that I would ever want to share with two people at once. She waved her hand as if to insinuate that I should keep going and suddenly, in a fit of emotion a la 100% pure Raff, I told her everything. I told her that I meant everyone who has promised never to leave has left, everyone who has promised to never lie has lied, everyone who has said ‘I love you’ has changed their tune when they really get to know me. My definition of love is warped, it’s dirty, it’s broken – I don’t know why you would want to have to go through that with two people at once.
I didn’t expect the laughter that bubbled up from her lips, nor the words that followed. (I am paraphrasing here for the sake of understanding, because when i say ‘heavily accented’ I basically mean a weird version of Frenglish)
“Love is mistakes, Raffi. Love is never perfect because it is two imperfect people trying to perfect it. You can’t say it isn’t worth it just because you experienced poor examples of
it. And you can’t let the people who showed you poor examples of it ruin the opportunity for other people to show you the real version. ”
When she let go and patted my arm, I couldn’t tell if it was condescending or sympathetic. But, when she leaned back, propping herself up on her elbow and leaning her face against the palm of her hand, I could tell that this was about to become another serious, deep, spiritual conversation – as they often are when two people find themselves awake after the night has slowly crept into the wee hours of the morning.
“If not love – what do you think is the meaning of life?”
My answer was quick. I think about this subject often.
The answer caused another raised eyebrow and another “example?”
Experiences, what you look back on when you are near your death, hopefully old and grey and content because you lived the absolute shit out of your life.
Experiences that better you.
Experiences that crush you.
Experiences that take your breath away – sometimes in a good way, sometimes not.
Experiences that will last your entire life.
Life is a story, it intersects and crosses paths with the stories of other people, and all you can ask is that those intersections leave a lasting, valuable impact on their stories as well.
Here’s the thing. I don’t need love to live my life in a way that impacts others. Some day, maybe, I will find someone who loves me – really loves me – and maybe we will be together forever.
I’ve stopped expecting it though.
I’ve stopped even hoping for it, because what I have found, is that I am infinitely more happy when I don’t have to explain every minute decision, every careless, raffstyle action, and every lingering conversation that I like to have with strangers.
I am inifitely more happy when I can share my attention with swarms of people, then retreat back to my solitude when necessary.
And yes, maybe I’m just trying to convince myself that I don’t need the people I have lost – but for the first time in a really, really long time – I am absolutely, truly alone, and yet, I feel more fulfilled than ever.
The irony of the situation is not lost on me. It being that the prospect of being alone was my greatest fear, and now, it’s proving to be my greatest joy, my truest learning experience, and the deepest contentment that I have felt in a very long time.
I used to think love was the reason for living, but the more you love and lose the more you realize that you are the constant – that your only choice is to continue – alone.
I am who I am – 100% Raff.
And for now, it is more than enough for me.