Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. – James A. Baldwin
It’s NYE and I should be popping champagne, bedazzling myself with sparkles, glitter and other shiny accoutrements.
Instead, I am decked out in sweats, snuggled under a blanket on the couch, and footsie-encouraging my sick spouse who is working to meet an urgent midnight deadline.
Not the sexiest of NYE’s, but I’m feeling pretty awesome about it.
Although, there is one NYE tradition I refuse to eschew —spreading the love!
I am not necessarily talking about smooching at the stroke of midnight, although I am all for that.
I am talking about the kind of love that sustains you from year to year.
This post is dedicated to it.
I had always thought that my girl Zora had love pegged when she said: “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
But then earlier this week at 30,000 feet in the air my world was transformed by James’ B’s acumen.
He said: “Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.”
My summation of these black literary geniuses’ words is that love (at its best) allows us authentically be and grow as ourselves with support from others.
Love allows us to clean out and salve the wounds—the most painful parts of our life journeys’.
Love builds bridges over our despair and makes us more resilient people.
Sounds lovely, right?
So, why is this sort of love so elusive in our families, our communities, our lives?
Because there are glaring conditions to being vulnerable in the way it takes to really love one another.
Here are just a few of those conditions.
Care—the kind of selfless concern for others that we see Ai-jen Poo and other activists displaying for people.
Truth-telling– the kind that political cartoons capture, but shared with compassion and the person’s feelings in mind. It is also the kind of truth-telling about how you’ve fallen short and your intended steps for addressing the wrong.
Encouragement – the gentle nudging that lets you know a person loves you just as you are, but helps you see and propels you towards your own personal definition of success in life.
Commitment – you have to have a person’s back through life’s ups and downs –pure and simple. How else can you be considered trustworthy?
As the esteemed bell hooks has said: “Affection is only one ingredient of love. To truly love we must learn to mix various ingredients-care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, and trust, as well as honest and open communication.”
I agree and further have come to the conclusion that:
It takes whole people to love another.
We’re all broken and damaged, but most people refuse or at a lost about how to do the internal work to stitch together the torn pieces of themselves –or else they cannot muster the stamina to do it over and over again after life’s upsets.
Love can only occur in the context of relationship.
And relationships embody and evoke what is the least and the best in all of us.
If a person cannot be honest with themselves, so how can you expect them to be honest with you?
Our frailties are our fallacies.
In honor of the New Year, I want to confess to my top five rookie love mistakes (#foolserrands) in hopes that the years 2015 onward will only be more and more loving.
1) I confess to seeking love from people who aren’t in a position to give it.
2) I confess to thinking that loving a person would mean that they wouldn’t disappoint me.
3) I confess to thinking that loving a person gave me the right to judge their actions.
4) I confess to thinking that loving another person would diminish the love that I had for another.
5) I confess to overlooking the love that was surrounding me and holding me up all along.