Early morning duty is by far not my favorite part of my job, for it requires me to be at work by 7:15am. However, twice a week it affords my son and I the chance to see something we would otherwise miss: the sunrise.
We cruise down the road, talking to each other about how it will look, eagerly anticipating the view that will befall us when we turn left off the main road, for the minute we do, the sunrise comes into glorious full view. Most mornings, it is nothing short of amazing; a brilliant medley of pink, orange, turquoise and purple hues blended with the very lightest shades of blue. And one of the most beautiful things about it, the one thing I’ve taught my son to appreciate, is that no matter how beautiful it is the moment we lay eyes on it, it doesn’t remain. Typically, by the time we have entered the parking lot and exited our vehicle, the sky has changed, dissolving from sunrise into pale blue morning sky.
“Always remember,” I say to him, “the best things in our lives come to us in moments, fleeting moments. Be open to them when they come, and be present in them, or you’ll miss them.”
Love is like the sunrise. It tends to come in moments, fleeting moments, when we’re struck by the magnificence of our own capacity to feel for another person. Just like the world comes alive with the sunrise, our souls come alive in the presence of the one we love, and a new part of us is born when we allow them to see through our guard, to be part of us, and part of our world. There is absolutely, positively, no feeling on earth comparable to falling in love and being loved in return. It’s like a series of sunrises, a series of moments more beautiful than anything we could have imagined.
It would be ridiculous if someone said they feared the beauty of each morning’s sunrise…but far too often, people fear falling in love, or worse - allowing another person to love them. When amazing moments present themselves, these people turn away. Feeling they don’t deserve anything this great, they settle for substitutes - lesser, more predictable situations that make them feel less, because to feel less seems safer. But that’s like deciding a static rendition of a sunrise that can be framed and hung on the wall is better than turning off the main road and being surprised, amazed, and humbled by the beauty of an authentic sunrise, for which there is -just like crazy, spell-binding, passionate, amazing, real love - simply no substitute.
This is the week of Valentine’s Day, a holiday when romantic love is celebrated throughout the United States and many other countries. This holiday has somehow grown to encompass all other forms of love, as I recently realized when I saw a Valentine’s card in a shop with the inscription, “To My Beloved Grandmother on Valentine’s.” But this is simply marketing…Valentine’s Day is still, in most of our minds, a holiday that honors the bond of romantic love and all it represents. And I think that’s wonderful. Romantic love deserves a day all its own. Even if romantic love isn’t part of one’s life at the moment, the next day, week, or month, that could change. It’s one of life’s most amazing things, the way it strikes us out of the blue sometimes. I’m reminded, as my son and I make Valentines from recycled paper and paste cut-out hearts onto the front door, that this is not a time to be closed off to possibility. I’m fully aware that the best things in our lives come to us in unexpected moments, and that I need to be open, or I’ll risk missing them altogether.
On the way into school this week, reflecting upon the beauty of Wednesday’s sunrise, my son said to me, “Mama, can we wake up early one morning, drive over to this road, and dance under the sunrise, just to celebrate it?” I love the way my kid thinks…and in my mind I saw the image of the two of us, still clad in pjs, dancing together on the sidewalk as the sun came up. I had to smile. “When it warms up,” I said, “we’ll do that. I promise.” And I’ll keep that promise, for that beautiful idea he had is one of those moments that, like real love, there could just be no substitute for.
So this Valentine’s Day, my message is a familiar one: Whether you are in a long term relationship, a new relationship, or have no relationship to speak of, this year, choose to feel real love, amazing love, love that makes you feel alive, complete, like you could take on the world, but without expectation of permanence or forever, because those ideas are what bog us down in fear and make us turn away. Don’t guard yourself against pain; we are built to endure what comes our way, not run from what might happen. Love can and often does last forever, but only when we learn be in the moment, not dwelling on the future and certainly not bringing up past hurts. Let down your guard and choose to feel completely…yes it’s a risk, but things worth doing always are. It’s a risk to take my child out dancing on the sidewalk while the sun comes up. People might think I’m crazy…but at this point in my life, I’m far beyond worrying about petty things like that. Give me the moments that make my soul sing. Who cares, really, what others think? It’s our experiences, after all. Our lives, our love, and our moments, so be open to them. Be in them. And never settle.
Some loves last a lifetime, others are once in a lifetime. But if you pay attention, if you risk the safe road just a little, you might find the once-in a lifetime love that lasts for the rest of your days. You might just find out what 2012 could be like if you were not afraid. You might find, that in letting down your guard, you open up your life to extraordinary moments that you’d have never experienced otherwise. When we choose love, we choose to celebrate one of the greatest things about being alive.
I hope the moments of your Valentine’s Day will be extraordinary!
Choose love! J