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!


Auntie, aka cagny said...

Ahhhh, more pearls of widsom!
You must have an old soul, Reya.
And NYC public schools are actually closed for snow today.
Now I really LOVE that.

Evening Light Writer said...

I love that, sit down and be left behind or stand up and live! That seems so applicable to my life right now. I realized I've been sitting down for so long, letting life pass me by, not being an active participant.Today, if I see S. I'm asking him to come with me to that poetry reading. I'm nervous but I'm not going to let myself defeat me. Great post, I hope you enjoy the snow. Its finished here in NC, a bright sunny morning!

Steve said...

From your pics, it looks like DC is about as snowy as NYC. I thought we were just getting a light snow last night, but this is like a freakin' blizzard! It is beautiful, though, for those of us who don't have to drive in it.

I'm still mulling over your posts about romance. My few past romances really took possession of me -- almost like a puppeteer controls a puppet -- I felt powerless in the face of their euphoric highs and crazy lows. And they weren't even fully reciprocated. This was years ago, during my crush-prone youth, so I'm not sure what romance would look like for me now. I'm sure it has mellowed and matured. (I hope so, anyway!)

Chris Wolf said..., is the "Tree Spirited Woman" a new book that made me think of you immediately. I haven't read it yet, but I think I'll need to get it before she comes to the bookstore. Have you read it?

The Family Julz said...

It's pretty cold here in north Florida today. But no snow. I'm still going to walk the beach!

Reya Mellicker said...

Julz I will think of you on the beach while I shovel the sidewalk in front of the Quiet Waters Center where I work. I actually like to shovel snow, but it'll be fun to imagine.

Chris I haven't read the book but I am now very interested! I've been reading Savage Beauty about Vincent Millay, the book I won in Willow's drawing. It is incredible!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

wonderful post (as was the previous one sharing the book of reya's words on romantic love)....

you stay warm and walk safe, nature might night care if you live or die or fall or stay upright, but your friends do!!

analogman said...

Fortunately for me, passionate infatuation and true love have been easy to tell apart for some time now. Maybe it's because I've had innumerable painful experiences with the former and came to recognize the symptoms soon after onset. The latter, I have experienced only two times in my 56 years.

I consider myself to be extremely fortunate. My father confessed to me that he has never experienced the feelings I described to him in his 80 years.

I've always been in love with the idea of being in love and simply wanted it to be present in my life. But true romantic love is a tricky thing for the human brain to grasp. Need, desire, and other ego related traps are often mistaken for love.

Infatuation is usually an initial step in romantic relationships, but often passes fairly quickly when an actual thought process begins to be involved. When you think you are in love and reason begins to convince you otherwise, you are not in love.

Love is not reasonable.
Love is an understanding beyond all reason.
Love is not a thought process.
Love is a magic that can only be felt.
Love is not just a force of nature.
Love is a gift given to us by the all-encompassing Source of all things.

Reya, you have a way of evoking these thoughts in me and, obviously, many others. What a wonderful way you have with words. You are a gift given to all of us who read these pages from your heart. I hope when love finds you, that love knows what a treasure you are.

Enjoy your snow. I know I would.

A Groundhog

Mrsupole said...

Yes Reya,

You have a way of making us think. Think about things that we have not really thought about for years. You get our thought processes to working and we respond in kind. So thank you.

I hope you are enjoying all the snow. Wasn't it a month or so ago when you had no snow. Since then mother nature has answered your longings. So maybe your other longings will be answered too. Just let them come when they come. They will show up when it is time.

Keep working on that book for us all, please.

God Bless.

e said...

Your recent posting led to a poem on my blog. Your friend's story and the shrewd remarks of the sherpa once again prove the point that life is about choice, often despite circumstance, as is love.

It's wet and chilly here, I wish you a great day in your new office. Thanks for another lovely photo.

Amy said...


You are the first person EVER to say something about this subject that makes me not embarrassed to tell you my love story.

During the 14th year of my very miserable marriage, I recieved an e-mail from an old boyfriend I had when I was 14 and 15. He'd found me through and just wanted to know what I'd been up to for all of these years. It turns out he was married, and had been for 12 years. He lived in Texas, I lived in Colorado. We began to e-mail.

For the first couple of months of our renewed contact, we lied to each other about our happiness levels and then as we began to realize that we were sharing way more with each other about the true contents of our hearts than we ever had with our spouses, we began the difficult truth telling.

Both of us had tons of heartbreak in our marriages and were living lives of quiet desperation. Within months, I realized that if I could feel the way I felt about this man, I was most certainly in the wrong place in my life. I filed for divorce. Within the week, Eric, my old boyfriend, also filed for divorce.

Up to this point in my life, I have told hardly anyone that Eric & I were still married when we reconnected. It seemed sordid and socially unacceptable.

Eric and I dated for a year, were engaged for a year and have now been married for six years and have a beautiful four year old daughter together. We discuss often our state of bliss. We both agree that our very worst day together doesn't even compare to the misery of the mildly bad days in our previous marriages. Life is so good for us and we are happy and devoted to each other.

Your post said what I've always felt. That when love comes, our only power is choice. I chose love and in doing so, I found happiness I never thought possible.

Your post is awesome, and it liberates me. Thank you!

deborah said...

praising the groundhog
and someone's sister
who may have
snow was headed your way

love and more love

analogman said...

Amy, the story you told may not be socially acceptable, but true love is never sordid in the eyes of the One who really matters. That's my belief and I'm sticking to it!

I hope your relationship lasts a lifetime.

Anil P said...

Yes, forces of nature are dispassionate.

In their testing us they give us an opportunity to appreciate our limitations, and it is in this they display their compassion towards us.

Morgan Mayfair said...

I find I become most passionate about men I don't yet know well. I guess that blank page inspires me to project who I want them to be. So far only one has come close to being that person.

Delwyn said...

When you say that we have the power of choice and that is the only power we have over love, I got to thinking about why people can be so ineffective in that department when they know that the love they are living in is not a good love...and still they persevere with it...
So I think maybe that the power we have over love comes more from self awareness - understanding ourselves and our wants and needs and desires...fears and hopes , and then maybe we can make the best choice for the good of our soul.

Bee said...

You know that you have written a great post when it inspires such interesting comments.

Analogman's comment struck me: Need, desire, and other ego related traps are often mistaken for love.

When I had the intense infatuation/love that I described in yesterday's post, my therapist was totally dismissive of it. He talked me into his way of thinking, but I still wonder if I would have that intense AWARENESS even now if I saw the man. What IS that?

I can see why the ancients described it as a (poisoned)arrow. I like your analogy of a blizzard, too. Amy's story knocked me out.

P.S. I have posted about your photography essay. Confluence and all that . . . Reya, you really inspire me.

Butternut Squash said...

You know I love this post! It begins in one of my favorite places. Annapurna is where Wayne and I had our pre-marital honeymoon.

Beautiful, thoughtful, optimistic, great storytelling, all my favorites.

You could have a whole other blog devoted to love stories.

Reya Mellicker said...

Analog man? You ARE a groundhog, aren't you? Bless your shadow, dear one, and thanks for your thoughts, everyone!

Amy what a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm definitely going to include it in the Annapurna painting. I'm going out to get the canvas tomorrow.

Deborah it did not escape me that you called the snow while I said, Nahhhh, we're not going to have snow this year. Sister, I should listen to you!

I'm blown away by the heartfelt intelligence of the blog community. Ya'll rock.

willow said...

I adore the concept of love being like a snowstorm arriving in March, with a blast, totally unexpected! ((sigh)) Another lovely post, Reya. You've really been in your element lately. The juices are flowing over here!

susan said...

Wonderful pictures and some very interesting subject matter. I did like the Annapurna story and the pragmatic sherpa.

I came by from Lover of Life's blog. Hopefully, we'll meet again.

Ronda Laveen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ronda Laveen said...

have been married to my husband for nearly 33 years. We went together for five years before we married. We were probably the pair most unlikely to _________ (fill in the blank).

I fell in love with him long, long ago. We have fallen out of like a few times along the way, but never out of love. Sometimes I think couples give up too quickly. Often times it takes years to resolve or even come to an understanding or disarmament on an issue.

I'm not saying it is easy. I'm not saying we never neared divorce. What I am saying is that it is possible to continue to fall in love with your partner over and over again, each time reaching a deeper level. It is a surprise and a delight every time.

Val said...

ah snow again - sigh ..... and a wonderful post again - love love love. hmmm should we be reading between the lines here...? thinks xx

Anonymous said...
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ashtree said...

Hi Reya! I found your blog through a friend's blog and have been enjoying your wisdom and photographs ever since. Thank you for posting.
My love story includes a broken heart for me and romantic love for others.

Last summer, I had a wonderful romance--the kind I've only really dreamed about. The problem is, the feelings weren't mutual. We parted ways and attempted to carry on as friends.
Weeks later, she met a close friend of mine. They quickly fell for each other and are now seemingly happy and in love. This hurt me deeply--both because I was in love and because I felt a sense of betrayal by my friend.

When I read your post, I realized that none of this has anything to do with me. You are so right--love comes out of the blue and doesn't care who it affects--even if someone gets hurt.

I am not currently in contact with either of them--I am still mending my heart and don't want to bring any negativity to their relationship. As I muddle through this mess we call life, I will keep your post and your thoughts on love in mind. Thanks, Reya!

SafariB said...

Oh Reya... that opening paragraph is incredible! I've been questioning the veil between life and death a lot lately and those words really resonate.

Just checked in on your blogs after being "away".. what a treat to come back to. Thank you!

I could fill a book with my own stories! :)