I read an inspiring article yesterday, taking as a springboard a quote from poet Charles Bukowski, “find what you love and let it kill you.” It was written by a concert pianist named James Rhodes, and although it was about his love and mad dedication to music, his sentiments extend far beyond music. I thought to myself, I know exactly what he’s talking about. I want to die in the arms of that love.
What do you love? This is the question I want to ask everyone I see. What do you love? Not just feel vaguely intrigued by; not stating what you think you should love; no, no, none of that. What do you love so much it fills up your body and mind with an ecstatic heat that doesn’t quit? It doesn’t matter what, or whom, anyone else loves; put that right out of your mind. It doesn’t matter what other people might think or judge or ridicule or be horrified by. It doesn’t matter if others have the same or different loves. What do you, YOU, love? Can you love yourself enough to be honest? Can you drop your own judgment? And further, once you have zeroed in and landed on your loves, can you pursue them so diligently that you will let it kill you?
I realize this prospect of dying is frightening for many. Listen, though, you know I’m right: you’re going to die anyway. You’re mortal. You have no idea how much longer you’ve got. I’m not trying to send you into a panic, truly. I want you to hold your exquisite, gorgeous life in your trembling hands. Can you see, really see, how beautiful and precious it is? Can you surrender to your own ferocious passion for your own life?
These questions are as much for me as for you, of course. I will show you my own love, as much as I can.
I love language. I love poetry, and song, and spinning in a rapture of phonemes and nuance and expression, reading it, listening, writing, singing. It makes me high. It’s the art of relating, the art of declaring I have these elaborate thoughts and textured emotions, and I want you to see, I want you to feel, I want to bring you with me. Come with me! Is it that, at root, all art, all expression is tapping into this universal fount, this underground aquifer of flourish, such that we can recognize our lack of separation?
I love the garden. My garden, the community garden, the gardens I stumble upon, am invited into, slices of Eden scattered all around. The soil, the worms, the tender seedlings, the vigorous vines, the lush fruiting, the quenching with rain, the attunement to seasonal rhythm, the excitement of new knowledge, the sensuality of raspberries, the swelling of zucchini, the majesty of leaf and flower. It feeds every part of me, and allows me to feed my beloveds, literal nourishment of bodies and souls.
I love people. I love their laughter as we sit by the bonfire. I love their stories. I love their embodiment, their youth, their age, their dazzling beauty (which is vastly more widespread than the cultural norms would have you believe), their shyness, their boldness, their art, their way of ever-blooming if you take the time to see. They are so imperfect, so human, so full of feeling, so brilliant. There is a lover in each person, no matter how shut down or closed off, and seeing that lover in their eyes or words or images brings me the most insane delight.
There is more, of course. There is always more.
Let’s quaff this potent brew, shall we? Now. Right now.