Monday, March 2, 2009
I Praise the Groundhog's Shadow
During the late 1970's, a friend of mine climbed Annapurna. Even though she knew about altitude sickness, frostbite and all the other dangers involved, somewhere deep in her Gaia-loving, hippie-chick unconscious, she did not believe that climbing the mountain could hurt her. The pivotal moment came when she was so exhausted she collapsed on the trail. Right then, for the first time, she realized that Mother Nature didn't really care whether or not she died. When she told this to the sherpa, he said, "Sit here if you like. We'll go on and you will die. Stand up and live." And so she did. That day she learned one truth of the natural world, that life and death aren't separate from each other. In the big scheme of things, it really doesn't much matter when we live and when we die. It was a great day for her.
Reading all the incredible stories from yesterday's post (in the comments section), reminded me of my friend's story. Based on those tales, love comes on like a force of nature not personally interested in the two beings about to fall in love. Love is like a snowstorm arriving in March, seemingly from out of the nowhere.
It's no wonder that Aphrodite and Venus, Cupid and other love deities are often portrayed as somewhat lacking in the compassion department. They get jealous, but as far as trying to figure out whether or not the people involved "should" be in love, they don't much care. It's true, too, that when love arrives, it doesn't seem to notice whether the people are already involved with others, or live 3,000 miles apart, or are well suited to each other. Romantic love is not rational.
Forces of nature are dispassionate, yes, but we humans have the birthright of discernment. We can go with it, or stand up and walk away. We do have free will, the power of choice. This is, as far as I can tell, our only power over love.
I'm seeing a much bigger painting in my future, one that features Annapurna in the background, a strong horizon, and the stories from yesterday's blog glued right into the pigments, adorned with lots of gold leaf, because encountering love, full force, calls upon us to be as valiant as possible.
I welcome more love stories, including those without happy endings, if you're willing to share. Thank so much for your help. And ... if you're in DC this morning, or somewhere on the east coast, enjoy the late season snow!