Because it is only the act of love that can give life meaning, whether it is love for a lover, for a family member, for a friend, for a pet, for an ideal, or for humanity itself. If we do not love, we are truly lost.—Charles Francis Munat, July, 2012
Saturday morning, July7th, I awakened at 4:30. I should have gotten up, then, for my jog, run, sprint, because it was so muggy by the time I did, around 7:00. I went back to sleep, though, and dreamed I was comforting Hillary Clinton after she’d discovered, yet, another sexual affair. Bill’s, of course, and it was ongoing.
Dreams are, well, real. And during the dreaminess, I was applying balm to Hillary’s wounds. And she responded to my kindness with gratitude.
The only other encounter I’ve had with Hillary was at a Manhattan luncheon, my ticket purchased by a peace organization. During her speech, after she’d used the word “support” a gazillion times, I stood and removed my suit jacket to expose a photograph taped to my blouse of nephew Chase, killed in Iraq in 2005, and, then, I began walking toward the podium, saying, “Why do you continue to support war?” Over and over, louder than her vocals. She never looked at me, nor did she pause. Finally, I was removed by security.
In the dream, I reached out, extending my heart. She took it, extending hers.
I was thinking about this as I ran. Thinking about so much. The heat. That it will be this way for two more months. And after that, I’ll run in cooler temperatures, until, finally, it will be cold. Then, cool, warm, muggy. The cycle.
But back to the night dream and daydreaming. When running, I engage in the latter. And I write articles, hoping I can remember the thoughts to take into the apartment to my computer.
I consciousness streamed about the weather and comforting Hillary while parallel processing that the secretary of state tosses American exceptionalism around the globe to rationalize the carnage committed in our names. But there I was, during sleep, bolstering her, a human being who was hurt, heartbroken, despairing.
And, then, my mind shifted to a neighbor, T. He’d told me he had cat food his cat doesn’t like and he wanted to give it to my sister Laura for Maggie Mae, my little feline niece. I’d told Laura about T.’s offer and when she and I went to the pool, he approached, telling her he had quality cat food for her. Laura said, “No thanks, I just had lunch.” I lay in bed that night, thinking about the quip and laughed until I cried. Recovered and began to laugh again. Alone. Didn’t matter. All of this, I thought about as I ran.
And, then, somewhere around mile four, this memory about my husband—his telling me when he knew he was dying that he wanted me to remarry. I was so shocked when I heard his words, I looked at him and said, “I’ve already put my profile on eHarmony.com.” I didn’t want to talk about it, so I deflected with humor, my best defense mechanism.
I thought more about comfort, its meaning, and the stream flowed to another neighbor, someone who’d become significant, because he anchored me to positive emotions, again. I’d go to him on winter evenings and, later, walk down the hill in a rich, cold darkness I loved. Yes, I thought of all this and of what preceded the walks down the hill—music, conversation, touch, all necessary for feeling alive. Until a painful truth, followed by a molting of honesty, changed whatever it was we weren’t and still aren’t. But what we are is acceptable. “It’s okay. I understand. I want you to be happy.” I said this to him. I meant it.
I believe that love is an action, not an emotion. You do the action, then you feel the emotion . . . In truth, love is the conscious diminishing of the self, or, put another way, it is the letting go—the ‘getting over’—of the small self and the embrace of the larger self—the shared self . . . There is nothing special about us, Missy. We are bags of bone and blood and shit just like every other human on this planet. We do the same stupid things. We fuck up just as badly. We have as much to learn . . . But at the same time there is something very special about us: we are awake. Somehow, without having done anything to deserve it, we have awakened to the beauty of the universe, and not in some private, selfish way, but in an open, sharing way . . . That doesn’t make us better than anyone else. But it does make us luckier.—Charles Francis Munat
Yes, Charles, we are lucky despite imperfections. We are all jaggedly flawed.
And we are in this together, interproximal on our planet, separated only by degrees of empathy, values, fears, opportunity, whatever. And we must act to love each other. With no expectation of receiving anything in return.
Missy Comley Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.