July 9, 2010

to live clandestinely (1 part remix, 1 part book report)

This is a little thing I like to call a REMIX. The original post was titled "love is a battlefield," a truth which I believe still stands. Love IS a battlefield. Thank you, Pat Benetar, for handing us said truth in such a catchy phrase and in such a great great song. I appreciate that about you.
In the aforementioned post (which has been coming up in conversation quite often, of late), I came to the general conclusion that I should give relationships the go-ahead, because as C.S. Lewis said, if you choose NOT to risk the vulnerability of love, "[your heart] will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable." This does not seem like a great situation. In referring to this option as "the casket of your selfishness" Sir Lewis has made a fairly clear statement about which option he personally votes for. Not much ambiguity there.
Regardless, this whole concept is getting kind of hard. When I wrote that post, I meant what I wrote - I did (and do) think it is a worthwhile cause to love and be vulnerable, because obvi, caskets of selfishness are not the kinds of places I enjoy spending my time. But lately I am feeling less kindred with Lew and a ever so slightly more with Jenny Lynn (the song I posted last week) --
wounded - you let your guard down & feel stupid
you wish you never would have trusted
your heart in someone else's hands
Yes. At the current moment, this is far more accurate. I (among others) am tired of being vulnerable and getting kicked in the face for it. We want to be seen and heard and accepted and loved, but to let another person into those places opens you up to a whole horrific cocktail of hurt and pain. And because we are sinny, broken humans, we are, by extension, a race of heartbreakers. So the question was posed to me yesterday: what was I going to do about this state of affairs? Retreat to my casket of selfishness? Hide in my bedroom until the end of time? Was I going to quit? I thought, yes. Quitting is an attractive option.
Last night I finished a great book (and for the record, I did not always think it was great). It is a story of a highly intelligent, self-proclaimed "clandestine" woman in her mid-fifties. She is alone. She strikes up an unlikely friendship (my favorite kind) with a pre-teen who intends to take her own life because she has given up entirely on the worthwhileness (is that even a word?) of living. Seriously, for over half the book, I was incredibly bored. I thought the characters were fairly dull and their lives mundane and I wasn't terribly interested. But then - they meet one another and begin to interact and describe each other instead of just themselves and the whole story takes a huge turn. It becomes interesting. The voice, the tone, changed. The characters became deep and vibrant and beautiful - people I barely recognized - in the others' eyes and words. In relationship, in community, the characters came alive. I don't think I've ever read anything quite like it. 
Without giving away any crucial plot points, the whole novel points to a person's willingness to be vulnerable with another person. Which is funny. I have this long, tearful conversation yesterday morning about the possibility of quitting on relationships. Then in the evening I pick up this boring book (I hate to not finish books, so I had to press on) and this, unexpectedly, is it's entire message. Although this case is a little hyperbolic in comparison to myself (as I am sometimes a hider but am far too extroverted to cross over into full hermitude (also not a word)), the fact remains: to live clandestinely was miserable (not to mention boring). To watch as these characters - hiders, both of them - come out of hiding, and completely transform because of it? HOW CAN I NOT KEEP TRYING?! Ugh. I hate when the hard thing is the right thing. Hate it.
but it's all okay - I think you may have made the best mistake
I think we're made to give ourselves away
'cause there's no other way to live

I can almost hear the hearts of the clandestines, silently pleading: 

jenny lynn, I wish that I had your thin skin
I wish that I could let the love right in
maybe I'd rather feel the pain

'cause freedom is a naked heart that always dares to give

I guess if the alternative is to live clandestinely - a lonely hider sequestered to a casket of her selfishness - 
I will (reluctantly, today) choose nakedness. The metaphorical kind. 
 And, by extension - fingers crossed - freedom. 

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