Recently, I witnessed a lovely interaction between a kind-hearted father and his young son inside a small neighborhood’s local cafe. A light rain had just ceased and I was feeling the aches of nostalgia as I let myself choke-up again on post-heartbreak memories littered about everywhere I went. The adorable pair sat across from each other at a small table in the very center of the cafe. The boy told his father how much he loved the cheese on his sandwich and then asked if our president’s name was pronounced “Brock” or “Barack”. After they discussed Obama’s name, I watched as the father smiled at his son as he told the waitress this time how much he liked the cheese on sandwich. As I got up to leave, I debated approaching the two and telling them how much I enjoyed their conversation today. I decided against it, then left. I then realized that my decision to avoid a moment of vulnerability was a result of the all-American “afraid-to-smile” syndrome that seems to affect a majority of our population. Allow me to explain. I’m sometimes hesitant to smile at someone when I pass them on the street because I don’t want them to think I’m crazy which is totally backwards. When did being outwardly happy become so lame? In fact, I want to look kinda fierce because as a young, independent American in today’s progressive society, I’m not really allowed to be “crazy”. I’m supposed to be progressive, mobile, logical, head-strong, and do everything for myself. In the end, I am all I have. Right?
Yes and no. I do believe part of the human duty is to learn and love in solitude because we can’t always shove the people we love into our own safe corners. We can’t own each other. And as much as you may feel connected to another soul, another body, another heart, you will always be your own unique entity. Personally, I struggle with this because I’m so passionate about people. I need them. When someone looks into my eyes and tells me they love me, it’s a binding contract. When they dishonor the contract (i.e. exit my heart with no plans to return), a part of me withers away and I have to regrow some roots. But no matter the generation, the plain and simple fact is that people are not always available and you must find the love within yourself in order to fully live. Period. With that said, I believe the other half of the human duty is to love one another because someone, be it “God”, be it “the magic”, be it “science” decided that it actually takes two human beings to make one and my subsequent reaction to this conscious understanding is a mind-blowing revelation fueling my belief that everything is connected by love. If we were all placed exactly on this mystery orb together at the same time, why not help each other figure some of it out and let some of it go? Don’t we all have issues? Why not be in love with each other?
Yet I find I’m constantly asking the question “Where is the love?” because it seems as though society in all it’s progress and technological evolution has tucked away love. Now love is “too traditional”, “too impractical”, “too made-up”. We know now it’s all just chemical reactions, really. Right?
Yes and no. I find it difficult to understand those who are satisfied with “it’s all chemical reactions”. Why keep making scientific discoveries then? Does a scientist not experiment out of love? If not, why do they do it? I can’t imagine it was easy to discover all the microscopic complexities of a chemical reaction. Someone had to keep trying for a reason...Ah, a reason…
The reason has been replaced by massive billboards cheaply undermining sex for the sake of advertising products no one needs so that one guy can reel in wads and wads of cash. It’s as though a couple of power-hungry morons got lucky when they tripped over their egos and landed right into the sparkle party of their cunning sharpness. Along with our twisted idea of what sex is comes our need for status, for independence, for power because all of this seemingly equates to freedom. Why be tied to some deranged, fruity idea of acting out of love when we can climb the money ladder as fast as we possibly can just to spend whatever gold is at the top on looking dang good.
Don’t get me wrong, I think independence is a beautiful thing. Comfortable independence opens up a world of opportunity to realize the love living inside your own heart that can manifest itself into a passion after the pursuit of a curiosity about a something. And I’m not talking about the fleeting pleasure of buying a new pair of sunglasses. I’m talking about the everlasting happiness of a practice. “Practice” is an intimidating word. It’s always turned me off because it makes me think of tedious, repetitive drilling but I’d like to redefine “practice” as consciously growing. The process of learning something new and I mean really learning something new doesn’t have to be tedious if you don’t want it to. If you’re acting out of love, it definitely does not have to.
But we’ve lost love and are searching for it again in all the wrong places. Our iPhones are not gonna help us. Meaningless sex is also not the answer. Keeping to ourselves, doing it all for ourselves, and looking out for only ourselves will only solve half of the problem yet the “me” focus is the modern trend. I became keenly aware of this when one of my favorite college professors commented on how as much society has progressed in freedom and opportunity, it’s regressed in the individual ability to care about what really matters. We have to ask ourselves “What am I really here for?” and “So what?”.
So what if I had approached the father and son duo in the cafe the other day? I imagine the worst thing that could have happened was a rejection of my act of vulnerability. They certainly could have thought I was “crazy” and denied my friendly gesture. But the boy was “crazy” enough to tell his waitress that he loved the cheese on his sandwich. If this boy is so unabashedly himself, why can’t we all be? Might I suggest we start believing in something again… (i.e. love).