Very few people believe this, but I love riding the bus. Since I lost my license last April, I have become the world’s biggest fan of my community’s public transportation system, which really is pretty fantastic. But we are such a car-dependent society that unless you live in a large city, it’s hard to imagine existing easily without a vehicle.
Here, though, it works. It’s affordable, convenient, and it expands my world view. I meet new people all the time, eavesdrop shamelessly on private conversations, see things that I would never otherwise see from the confines of my own private vehicle. It’s a writer’s paradise.
Last week, I was sitting at this gray, sort of depressing bus stop at the edge of a run down shopping area, willing my fingers not to become frostbitten, and I noticed a public mailbox in the middle of the parking lot. I was surprised to see it there because there seem to be fewer public mailboxes around these days.
Anyway, a few minutes passed, and this little old couple in a little old car pulled slowly up to the mailbox. The little old man rolled down the window about two inches and sort of scrunched this letter out through the window into the mailbox, rolled the window back up, and then very slowly drove away. A few more minutes passed, and a mail truck pulled up to empty the mailbox, and I thought how lovely that was–that the old man’s letter would be picked up and carried on along its way. Just like the bus I was waiting for would pick me up and carry me home.
Just like the book I’m reading, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed is carrying along my thoughts and feelings about love. Moving me forward, making me feel less alone, the way the best writing always does. The book is about many things, but I’m finding the pieces about love to be particularly moving.
For example, in response to one reader (Johnny’s) question about his ambivalence about when it’s right to say “I love you” to the woman he’s dating, and his plaintive query,”What is this love thing all about?”, she writes: “You aren’t afraid of love. You’re afraid of all the junk you’ve yoked to love…Do you realize that your refusal to utter the word ‘love’ to your lover has created a force field all its own? Withholding distorts reality. It makes the people who do the withholding ugly and small-hearted. It makes the people from whom things are withheld crazy and desperate and incapable of knowing what they actually feel…Don’t be strategic or coy. Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word ‘love’ to all the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will. We’re all going to die, Johnny. Hit the iron bell like it’s dinnertime” (Strayed, pp. 16-18).
My favorite man in the world called me last night to tell me that he loved me, and he sent me an email this morning, one of those chain ones that I usually hate that said “I wish you enough.” I sat in my office and started to cry. My second favorite man always tells me that he loves me when we say goodbye on the phone. It wasn’t always this way, but when things were hard in our family over the past few years, it started to become the thing we said to each other, to carry us along, and now we always say it because it’s true, and it’s the bridge that keeps us connected until the next conversation. I love you. I love you, too.
The poem for today is by David Whyte, whom I had in mind because I remember hearing him speak about the difference between hiking and kayaking. He said how struck he was by the difference in being carried by the water in a kayak, how you could carry so much more with you because you yourself were being carried along by this elemental force instead of being weighed down by everything you needed to carry on your back.
I’m pretty sure it’s like that with love.
What carries you? What helps you keep your head above water, or buoys you along when you need a little extra support? What connects you? I’d love it if you’d share (leave a comment), and so will others who stop by to read! [One last thing, and apologies for being self-promoting, but if you enjoy reading this blog, do feel free to share with others, via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.]
Loaves and Fishes
This is not the age of information.
This is not
the age of information.
Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.
This is the time of loaves
People are hungry,
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.
Sometimes we forget how much we love the ones closest to us.
Sometimes we note only the things that irritate us.
Sometimes we only notice when they are gone.
My wife of 47 years returns today
From a week with her hospitalized mother.
I have missed her more than I knew.
I will say “I love you”
Thank you, Lynn, for being here!
Your post hit me in so many ways, and just what I needed to read today. My old commute used to include a short (sometimes long) bus trip and there was something oddly comforting in it. At times I was engrossed in a book or work emails, but the times when I would strike up a conversation with a fellow commuter or a tourist would somehow leave me happier and more fulfilled. Your post helped me to remember that, so thank you! And as for what connects me… some special family and friends thankfully, and writing like yours!
Thank you for sharing, Evelyn!
Lately, I have been unbelievably frustrated by too, too many obligations, particularly financial. I have been cheated by corporations. I want to totally give up. Then I read spiritual writings such as above. My faith keeps me going, powerful words remind me of my faith and the words I share with my daughter. My daughter very much keeps me on the planet, she called today and made me laugh. Also, the joy I feel around children, particularly the grandchildren, but many children put life in the proper perspective for me. They say the right things; their words are the most meaningful and powerful. Thank you Leslie. As always, I love your writing and your other readers’ responses. Blessings!
Blessings to you as well, Colleen, and thank for being such a faithful reader!
I got your blog sent to me a coupleof weeks ago from my foster mother. I kept reading a few sentences but always felt “too busy” to read it all. I finally just had the time and was”present” to read and understand the message. I can relate to the fear of not saying the words. I don’t remember telling my son that I loved him that often. He’s twenty now and has joined the Marines. Every time we talk I tell him I love him. It was awkward for me at first. ( years of protecting myself from hurt) . I realize now that in protecting myself that I lost out on many heartfelt moments/memories of when I wanted to utter those words out loud. He even surprised me when he started saying it first. 😄
I’m honored that you took the time to read, and trust me, it’s NEVER too late to say the words “I love you.” No, it doesn’t always come easy, but how wonderful that it’s become part of what you and your son can say to each other. I’ve been there; it’s worth the effort (even when it feels awkward). Please come back and visit! Leslie