Saturday, March 28, 2009

Love Changes Everything

"I am here to remind you that without love, your MoonQuest cannot succeed."
~ The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy

Love will turn your world around, and that world will last forever / Yes, love, love changes everything ... Nothing in the world will ever be the same.
~ from Andrew Lloyd Weber
's "Aspects of Love"

Saturday, March 21 ~ Gallup, New Mexico

The black jeep drives out of Denny's parking lot, my daughter Guinevere waving from the back seat. It turns south on Muñoz Drive, then west on I-40 on its way back to Sedona, Arizona.

For ten minutes, I sit numbly in my car, unable to turn the key in the ignition and follow Muñoz to I-40's eastbound ramp, for the two-and-a-half-hour trip home to Albuquerque. When I do, it's a long time before I can turn on the radio or call a friend, the two distractions that often ease long drives for me.

Today, I need silence.

I've experienced many versions of this sadness since December 2004, when I drove out of Sedona in the wake of a marriage breakup and launched the odyssey that ultimately landed me here in New Mexico. But this is one of the most intense, and it takes me several days to figure out why.

Over the next two days, Guinevere emails me a half-dozen YouTube video clips from Easter Parade, Meet Me in St. Louis and Singin' in the Rain, the three classic movie musicals I introduced her to during our March Break visit, each accompanied by a love note. But, unusually, I don't hear from her at bedtime.

On the third night, I call. Her mom explains: Guinevere was more distraught than usual at leaving me and was afraid that talking to me would make her even more upset.

I understand. In those early months after I first left Sedona, I too hesitated to call Guinevere some nights for the same reason.

The next night, I have a seemingly unrelated experience: Someone I would never have considered pursuing romantically because of the yawning gap in our ages, pushes many of my buttons by flirting with me.

My first instinct is to recoil. Then I remember both the counsel I've given friends on that same topic in recent months and words I wrote just two weeks earlier in an online discussion thread on the subject. I was writing about two men. But the words apply to any two potential mates, regardless of gender or orientation:

"It's not age difference by itself that presents the potential problem," I wrote. "It's differences in maturity, psychology, life experience, goals, energy levels and interests that can get in the way. Sure, age differences can exacerbate those issues. But the same issues can easily arise between two men who are the same age.

"Dating someone young enough to be my son would push all sorts of buttons for me. But I wouldn't walk away from the potential for a deep, abiding love based on numbers alone. Love is too rare and special to make up artificial rules that ignore the mystical, magical illogic of the human heart.

"When love comes calling, I'm not going to ask for a birth certificate. I'm going to explore the heart connections that make love so wondrous."

When love comes calling....

Suddenly, I realize that what I've been experiencing is isn't only about me and Guinevere. Nor does it really have anything to do with this guy, who for reasons other than age may not be mate material. It's about how open I truly am to love -- however it chooses to come calling, whatever form it takes.

Back in January, I overcame some of my antipathy to The Secret movie and watched it again. The most profound thing it left me with was a call to write out all the things I was grateful for -- both those already visible in my life and those I desired but had yet to see or experience. The result was a comprehensive, four-page, ever-evolving list of statements related to every aspect of my personal, professional, creative and financial life.

I've been reading it aloud daily ever since.

When, Tuesday night, I get off the phone first with Guinevere and then with this young guy, I run to the computer and add this gratitude/joy statement to the others:

"I am so happy, joyous and grateful, now that I fully embrace and am unconditionally open to all the love directed toward me and flowing to me -- now and in all dimensions of time and space."

At first I think it's only about allowing myself to feel the fullness of my daughter's love and allowing myself to let in the kind of "loving, physically intimate and committed relationship" I've described in one of my other gratitude/joy statements. Then I realize that, as the Beatles so simply put it, "love is all there is."

Love is the energy that fuels everything and is the true source of every item on my four-page list. The only way to achieve my personal, professional, creative and financial goals is to keep opening my heart wider and wider to receive that love, however it comes calling.

The more open-hearted and vulnerable I can become, the more I can allow love in all its forms to touch and transform me. These forms can include the words of my next novel as much as the success of this one. They can include financial freedom as much as loving relationships.

They can also include pain.

The love from an unexpected source that led to my marriage became the pain of its dissolution. The joy of a week with my daughter is also the heartache of our parting.

What last week reminded me was that love can bring pain as well as joy, and that unless I'm open to a full experience of love's pain, I will never experience the heights of its joy and passion.

It also reminded me that the best inner and outer work I can be doing in these times of intense upheaval involves not only keeping my heart open but doing everything in my power to open it yet more...and more...and more -- to myself, to everyone else and to all the ways love presents itself, even if they're potentially painful to me or to someone else.

When love comes calling, whatever form it takes, I choose to be the open vessel that welcomes it and allows it to fill me with all my heart desires -- the four pages' worth that I know about as well as the infinite realms of desire I cannot yet begin to imagine.

Love does change everything. Everything.

I'm now ready to embrace it. Unconditionally.

Are you?

Please share your thoughts here.


katie said...

wow. wow. wow.

bittersweet, courageous, powerful.

and perfect timing for me, of course. i love synchronicity.

thank you for making time to uncover your heart space and allow for vulnerability. you have taught me a profound lesson this moment. one that i can now apply to what must be done today (something i have been postponing for myriad reasons).

may blessings be upon your stronger-than-you-know heart space.

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks so much, Katie. Looking forward to our April Fool's radio time together on the 1st! (10am PT, though I'll be on at 11:15am).

Anonymous said... share is to laugh is to live is to love
to wander below is to reach the above

big smile to you Mark David

Mark David Gerson said...

And back at you, Richard. Thanks!

Cia Khakaura said...


I have been reading your blog for a year and this is the first time I have been so moved as to write you back.

Unconditional Love is the energy that refines our sensibilities and purges the dross. There is no end to the amount we can love. When we can look everyone in the eyes and see our love reflected then life takes on a zing that makes the world light up with color and texture.

Thank you, my friend, for your words


Claire, Deep Water Leaf Society said...

Met you today on #writechat and came to check out your blog.

Yes, love is all there is, and its power drives the Universe. Love can include pain and then love can use that pain to create alchemical transformation. Love changes the dross into gold. Loving a child (or anyone) is dancing on the tightrope between holding on and letting go. And even after letting go completely, love survives.

Your post moved me and I thank you for your vulnerability and openness.


Mark David Gerson said...

Cia & Claire: Thank you for your kind words of love.

Lavina said...

Whew! As I have told you many times in the past your bravery is commendable and continues to inspire me.
This weekend I had to do something difficult. I sat down with my parents and discussed their future including their wishes for their funerals...LOVE is what got me through those discussions. How true that love can be So painful at the exact same time it is joyous. Thank you for reiterating to keep my heart open to Love within All its aspects.
Still enjoying your posts after all these years...

Mark David Gerson said...

And still enjoying hearing back from you, Lavina.

Karen Walker said...

Hi Mark David,
I just discovered this blog today and wrote a comment on an earlier post. But this one brought me back to when I went through a divorce and then lost custody of my only son. The pain of the parting on weekends we saw each other was excruciating. My son couldn't handle it and chose to shut down his emotions towards me for a very long time. Now he is 36 and we are close, but the time we lost can't be reclaimed.
I am glad you recognized the need to open your heart to more love, even though it sometimes brings pain. This time with your daughter is too precious to lose even one second of it.

karen walker

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks, Karen, for your heartfelt comments.

Fortunately, my daughter hasn't shut down and our communications (at least in these preteen years!) are pretty good.

I suppose all any of us can do as parents, is keep our hearts open, be emotionally available, give our kids the freedom to have the experiences they need....and hope for the best.

AnaDrol said...

Very powerful. I have been reading through your blog. You are a brave man.