My children, past marriage, and of course, childhood has taught me more lessons in love than I could articulate. But strangely enough, the other big lessons have been in books that I’ve read over the last three years. There wasn’t many. And maybe I am hesistant to say that. It was partly because of time. And mostly, because the quality of these books kept me returning, highlighting, and returning some more.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and celebrations range from big and small. a I love love. I love it. I am also very cognisant of its complexicities. Now, more than ever, I suppose. And I have loved learning more about myself in relation to it over the last few years. I’ve swallowed information from others. I’ve asked questions. Then, I read some more.
The Year Of Magical Thinking: Joan Didion
“These people who have lost someone look naked because they think themselves invisible. I myself felt invisible for a period of time, incorporeal. I seemed to have crossed one of those legendary rivers that divide the living from the dead, entered a place in which I could be seen only by those who were themselves recently bereaved. . . . I understood for the first time the meaning in the practice of suttee. Widows did not throw themselves in the burning raft out of grief. The burning raft was instead an accurate representation of the place to which their grief (not their families, not the community, not custom, their grief) had taken them. On the night John died we were 31 days short of our 40th anniversary. You will have by now divined that the ‘hard sweet wisdom’ in the last two lines of ‘Rose Aylmer’ was lost on me.”
On Grief: Here’s the thing, at any given moment many of us are grieving. I used to think that it was something that would go away. Or that it was solely related to death. Or that it could be measured. I used to think that seeing my father in a stranger, and grieving his complexity was simple minded—silly, even. I thought that there was a point that something begins and that it should end. And that you couldn’t love and greive at once—people, places, and periods of time. I was wrong. I read this during the deepest times of my life. It was a time right before the book, when I needed to meet myself to be able to give. And ultimately, to be able to love.
All About Love: Bell Hooks
“Whenever we heal family wounds, we strengthen community. Doing this, we engage in loving practic. That love lays the foundation for the constructive building of commuity with strangers. The love we make in community stays with us wherever we go. With this knowledge as our guide, we make any place we go a place where we return to love.”
On Community, Commitment, and love:
I read All About Love after the book. In this process of waiting and doing. Sitting in another season of now what and what if. But more importantly, a season of unconscious growth. I used to think that real commitment only meant to someone. Or to something. I later learned, through this book that it is a reciprocity. It is a daily, tangible, to and from. Commitment isn’t one thing. Just like grieving. For me, to learn to love was to learn how to love myself, ethically. And to extend that love to my community.
Hooks asked me to examine, what was ethical? What was I committed to? Was I willing to heal? And more importantly, where was my community? .
I’ve learned over some steep hills of excitement and joy, and in the lows of struggle (of all kinds). These two books helped me answer to vital parts of myself.
Here’s to holding on to books and love, no matter the season.
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Love this!!! I have been eying this bell hooks book for a while now and you have just confirmed for me that it’s time to pick it up! Thanks
I couldn’t recomend it enough. Truly! I hope you enjoy and thank you for reading!
Such a beautiful post – Thank you! I’ve been meaning to read the Didion book that is waiting on my coffee table, now I definitely will! A book that taught me a lot about grieving and living is when breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi, highly recommend. xx
p.s: I just finished your book, AMAZING ❤️❤️❤️
From a stranger on the other side of the continent who needed this today – thank you.