Some people I know on Facebook got engaged. Everybody liked it, I liked it. They are smiling in their picture. They are happy. They are gleeful that they have this chance to begin together.
Once upon a time, I myself began in a similar way, but without the photos, and without anybody liking it very much. That didn’t bother us, we liked it, and that’s basically all we were concerned with. We began together, picking up where we’d left off, on those little italicized Roman numeraled pages before the table of contents.
I watch these people begin. I share their joy from afar across the interwebs. Soon they will marry, and that, too will be a beginning. Perhaps they will have a child, perhaps another, and still more beginnings.
Watching people begin. Wanting to reach out and tell them what to look out for, the harsh words they ought not say, the moments not to take for granted, the love that needs to be at the center of their lives, love independent of any individual. Love independent of contingencies and who said what. Love that begets compassion and respect.
Love does not begin in transcendency. Ours didn’t begin that way. Ours began with teenage infatuation and stayed on that way well into our twenties. Somewhere along the way we both began to grow up. Again a beginning. And we realized after much tumult and arguing, after threats to leave, to split, to go our separate ways, that we were growing into people who had shared an infatuation once, but now did not. That we were growing into people who might never had hit it off, if we’d met then, where we each stood, grown ups of our own making.
It’s so much easier to fall out of love than it is to recommit to it. We’ve made the choice, again and again, to recommit to it. Sometimes each together, sometimes each on our own. We keep deciding to begin again, to seek out the love that is greater than us.
We bring out the best in each other, also the worst. After all these years we still have preconceived notions about intentionality, we still have hard-wired paranoia and fears. What do you do with that stuff? How do you pack it up? Where do you store it? How do you convince yourself not to go seek it out when the wind gets too strong and you need a familiar blanket to warm you tight?
How do you create a clean line between who you were and who you are? I don’t think it exists on its own, I think it must be concocted, made up of all the stuff of life. The trick is to leave in stuff you’re ashamed of, the stuff you wish you’d done differently, the regrets, the false starts, the mistakes. To love someone, I think, is to let their mistakes be part of who they are, too.
Maybe all life is a series of beginnings, and just when you think you’ve got this thing down, that you know what you’re doing, everything changes, and you begin again.