Category: About Love


This letter was written during a moment of doubt.

Like many, my friend struggled with achievement on occasion. Or, as the question was often phrased, “Do I do enough?” The crux of the concern was ‘achievement‘ –  how one defines it and how hard it is for a female to achieve anything recognizable in the business world.

Throughout the years, I recall all of those key mentors who just happened to appear in my life, as required. Still, reflecting back through the years, one key mentor after another passed on, as had many other heroes in my life. Skiver, Vogel, Navarro, Huff, Robinson and so many others. Gone. From their eyes, each expected more of me than what was seen. Each gave their best, freely admitted to my worst, often put me in my place, then rehabilitated me, and forgave for things I either said, did or did not do.

Still, my lover was also a wonderful mentor. After all these years apart, she remains unforgotten.

If she had read this letter, she would have learned a little of smidgen of Buddhist philosophy. The chief lesson being that life has taught that there’s a significant difference between well-known and known well.  To say someone is well-known merely places an external label connoting some level of notoriety.  This could be attached to someone popular, maybe well-skilled at something, or just notable for something that draws the attention of many. Known well, however, is a whole other story.

Read on.


My Dear Friend:

Over the years, almost all look upon our mentors in awe. Yet, for many, achieving one’s pinnacle is filled with exhaustion and, at times, desperation. In truth, you’ve wondered whether you’ve made a difference, gave something back to the community you’ve long served.

In truth, you’ve delivered more than most ever expected.  And regardless of the darker days of self-doubt, you’ve pushed harder than others. Passion for those whom you’ve led flows through your veins.

Of course, times of momentary fear, the fear of losing control, the fear of losing commitment and the fear of rejection has crossed your path. As such, we too, have had our ups and downs. Still, I thank you for all the moments we’ve been together. Because of you I gathered the courage to open my soul, to find the strength to get involved for the community members, to join action for that which is important to the next generation. I learned to stand up, for to have stood up and get shouted down is far better than never having stood at all.

Your biggest achievement? Me. You have instructed well. You have brought the very presence of spirituality to my life. I know God has touched your soul in many special ways, in ways that you are able to deliver His presence to others. I know this to be true, because I have experienced every time we’ve talked.

As you taught, genuine relationships involve being well-known and known well.  Quality relationships with colleagues, friends, customers and business associates go beyond what just being well-known can bring. Yet, you taught me the spiritual – the desire to find common ground for personal, professional, and maybe even a deeper level of connection with others. Thus, the lesson? Seek to know others well and allow yourself to become known well.

Thank you for all of the important lessons you taught me. Thank you for loving me, even when I failed. Most of all, thank you for being the female mentor I always needed.

The following is the second of two love letters.

The ending verse contains the word ‘Shringara’ (rapturous intimacy). I found Shringara thumbing through some ancient Sanskrit on a rainy afternoon at the National Library of Ireland. I remembered the word then on.

It has been said that Shringara Rasa can simply be translated as erotic love, romantic love or attraction or beauty. There are other levels used to describe love, but none can match it in its scope and variety. It is erotic love or passionate love and has been traced to the pleasure of love. The term literally means to decorate, or engage in a love talk. The playful exchanges between lovers or spouses, all evoke Shringara.

From a Buddhist perspective, all lovers must evoke Shringara.


My Dear Friend:

As we dined today, your eyes, lips and love smoothed the soul and nurtured my spirit. We kissed and felt the power of love between us, as if we could fend off anything unforgiving. Your caress sped my heart and I trembled in awe. I sleep in you, and just maybe, you sleep in me.

My eyes hold their breath. Shall we turn back? Should we? Shall we move ahead? Should we? I know, that if we ever lose this moment, I will etch your eyes. Thus, we I will find you again, and again. Like always, where ever we run, there will begin. There will always be another journey. There will always be another embrace.

Tonight, we can be what God has meant us to be. Somewhere close, the warmth of your breath smolders, your aroma. Ah. Your aroma. Passion. Death. Love Rekindled. Resurrection.

Restless, I dream. Dipping my fingers unto thy heart. There is no wilderness, no mountain, no horizon that can set our sun. We shall sit, waiting for the moon. Waiting for another resurrection. Our resurrection. Come find me. And I will find you.

In vain, the moon tries to paint your face. It fails to catch your grace. Can the caress your ecstasy? Can it kiss thy fruit? Shall it feel the heat of your skin, to taste mammilla, to taste the garden? I quiver. You are a forest of love … a forest of my life.

You are my Shringara.

Love LetterThis is the first of two love letters. You may already discern that many of my letters were ought-right expressions of love. Yet, there are firsts in one’s life that aren’t meant to be forgotten.

As such, there was this natural anticipation to write such a letter. I hadn’t read this letter since sealing it years ago. Now, I read it again. Once the message starts to sink into your heart, I wish this letter had been read, then answered.

So why the “Love” Letter? If there is a Buddhist message, it would be the following:

Love is not something we can hold in our hands. It’s more than an emotion we hold in our hearts. Love willingly gives part of ourselves to one another. I’ve experienced them, both in heart and soul. I tend to liken these as gifts to God, to love and myself; it helps me understand my love for God.

In truth, for many of us, its been a lifetime since we have told others how much they are loved. And so, to all my readers, I want you to know you are loved.


My Dear Friend:

We are separated by time and distance. Yet even in upstate Michigan, the stars are no match for thy beauty. I wish to be swallowed by your aurora. The prospect of living another day without your voice brings me no pleasure.

I there are few promises in this world. Maybe before the divine bids me adieu, I will know thy touch once more. Hypnotize me by your breath. Engulf me in your love, by the fire. Course through my soul and brand my soul in love.

Of all the dreams, I believe only them of you to be most true. Yet, each dream unfolds another truth of the serene, a gift from a hidden heaven. I can feel you in my arms. I can confess my soul’s longing. You are perfect. Majestic.

When I am lost, I fast. In your fragrance, I am intoxicated. The bed you sleep upon is blessed. The rain that bathes you is holy. For I have seen within thy bejeweled eyes. Come walk in the garden by moonlight. Stir me by day, satisfy me in the dark on the river. Rest softly and sweetly in my arms … forevermore.

This is the second of two letters themed, ‘Because of You.’

I did not write these letters because for any special request. Nor were these letters intended as prayer. I wasn’t asking for her to intervene or restore peace, to end a crisis, to heal something, or make any specific dream come true. In fact, after reading the ‘Because of You‘ letters, I simply wrote these two letters for the biggest, most significant, and most important thing – affirmation for someone I deeply loved.

Buddha said, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” As such, my goal simple – affirming a partner’s life, goal and love is extremely vital. And unless you take time to affirm that love and self-worth, we can program ourselves with negative statements – thereby making the negative true.

While celebrating Thanksgiving, remember actions done by body, speech or mind should be done after careful reflection. As Buddhists would note, a spoon of salt in a lake goes virtually unnoticed. Yet a spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable.

Remember to affirm one another.


If I could share anything share anything, it would be that honesty, purity and selflessness are essential pillars of true love.

You and I have searched longingly for our true purpose. It appears we are different from most. Like you, I continue to work so that others may benefit. As such, if love is the footprint of Christ, then you are Christ’s representative. You are God’s love to others.

You worry about being acceptable – acceptable to others and to God. Fear not, for because of you, I have recorded your deeds in the annals of time. You are made perfect. And I will attest to your beauty, even to the sacrifice of mine. I promise to proclaim, to God, everything about you. Because of you, the world, and I, have been privileged. The look of satisfaction and accomplishment when assisting is your testament. I am forever proud. I know God is as well.

Our faith and love will be our journey. We will always love each other and will be forever intrinsically connected. You are an addictive force. Oh. Draw me near. Even the beat of your heart doesn’t squelch the yearn. I need to swim in the coals of your bosom. For only when bathing in the springs  of thy heart can this never ceasing thirst be quenched. Only of you and in you, do I experience a satisfaction nothing else provides. You are my water. In you doth my cup run full.

Because of you, I no longer do as I wish. I am free only when imprisoned to you. The love you sprinkle grows in the soil of brokenness. I am reborn. Alive. You are the light for my darkness. To live in the ‘spirit,’ with your ‘spirit’ is grace undeserved. You are my rock, my living stone. You perfect my imperfect.

Thank you for showing me agape love and radical forgiveness. Thank you for teaching that intimacy is the sacred that can be shared. Thank you for showing me grace, even as I was, and am, unworthy.

This letter was a blessing to reread. Originally written on a winter’s night at Mark Twain Lake, located in Ralls and Monroe County, Missouri. I was amazed at the level of interconnection – just how present I was in the moment.

In general, there are two different views of how we perceive the world. The first view is that all beings exist independently, that the world is a collection of independent beings. The second world view is that all beings exist in relation to other beings. From a wider view, we can see our connection to others.

Buddhism views that everything in the world is interconnected. We are not only connected to other people, but to the air through our breathing and to the universe through light. As such, I misunderstood how deeply ‘present‘ I was in the moment and how deeply connected I was to Mark Twain Lake, God, Christ, spirit, eternal love, spiritual lust, the body, sparrows, oak ledges, midnight, tolling bells, the wine, wind, my thoughts, her breath, her eyes and love.

It’s a shame we never see these connections in real life. Had we, how so much more beautiful could our world could be?

And now, this letter is connected to the world, for all to read.

Enjoy.


My Dear Friend:

I sit upon the shores of Mark Twain Lake as the bells toll midnight. The wine nips my lips and I etch out this letter, breathing life from my soul. And I extend this missive in place of my heart, hoping, that as I write, you are well.

I notice something simple, odd really. Tree Sparrows have taken amusement of my existence. Pecking and hobbling among the oak ledges adjacent to my room, the distant lights appear like decorating ornaments of life’s backdrop. Having the need to escape for at least a night, I find myself briefly playing our own home movie, the rumble of bygone days laid to rest. A newer love of life surges. No, my dear love, for my eyes gaze southwesterly toward you and align to thy heart.

You have often worked for the beauty and benefit of others. Our lives are not our own. I am bound to you, as you are bound to me. We are bound to others, bound to our past, our present, in kindness and in love. We are interconnected. The crux of our stories touches all we’ve met.

Yet, as I constantly travel, I wonder how to carry all the love you’ve given. More so, I wonder to thirst for you in life, in death, and in life evermore. I cannot think of a more powerful way to honor either Christ or God. Loving you us a fulfillment of heavenly vision, a divine interconnection. And it is in our connection, that the ‘spirit’ comes and rejoices.

Should the Tree Sparrow be willing to tarry a message, it would be simple. This pottery is kiln fired. I am stronger the marrow stands firm against the wind.  And my heart longs to inhale the inner fire and dance in the peace of your heavenly blue eyes.

The wind briefly rattles! What say ye wind? What? “Folly or fool?” Oh, dare ye foolish wind! I am overwhelmed with beauty, I am bewildered by spiritual sweetness, this weary mind turns for refreshment as a dusty traveler might sink onto a soft grassy bank. Wherever this refreshment goes, even if it is for only a moment, I am blessed to have known its caress. Your love is my gift; your love will be my treasure.

Maybe our time is a brief rest, but also, maybe these moments remind us of the power of eternal love – that we are loved – that we can be loved. Regardless, I am encircled by your breath and I entrust our spiritual lust will draw near, in whatever way possible and to the way that’s right.

Letter 2 – Knowing Me

Knowing meMy Dear Friend:

By nature, we always want more. A person I met several years ago recently stated they didn’t know me. Each friend always requests the same – my utmost thoughts.

Being a fairly secretive person, I’ve rarely peeled back the outer layers of my soul. To complicate others with hidden thoughts and the man of my youth would appear cruel. As such, for those tucked away in quiet communities, commuting to and fro, knowing me would not enhance their world or their love for the world.

Until we met, I lived life from a 17-inch Tumi carry-on. Few knew of my travels to Cali, Columbia, Lima, Peru, Venezuela and other strange foreign lands. Few know that I can recall the addresses of 38 different US Embassies, including both phone and address. Few would understand why I would have memorized key US border crossings and frequently visited US Ports by ships.

For one to remember such information is not important. But by not knowing me, few will ever understand how you entered my soul and removed the distress of life. By not knowing me, those who have sight, will never understand your beauty, the nature of your walk, the balance between desire and poetry. And by not knowing me, those who can hear, will never hear the beating of your heart.

Yet to me, you opened a soul, allowing me to live some semblance of normal. As such, a lifetime of wanting and craving created this powerful energy we embrace. You’ve taught me to live life deliberately, with purpose. Because of you, I recognize my humanity, my spirit and spirituality.

Without you, I could neither revel in it nor have lived it.

Have you learn’d lessons only of those who admired you, and
were tender with you, and stood aside for you?

Have you not learn’d great lessons from those who reject you,
and brace themselves against you? or who treat you with
contempt, or dispute the passage with you?

~Walt Whitman~

The above poem, Stronger Lessons was part of a manuscript titled, “Sands at Seventy.” “Sands at Seventy” was the title of a collection of poems that first appeared in November Boughs (1888) and was later included as an “annex” to the final printings of Leaves of Grass. Stronger Lessons is one of my favorite poems. I hadn’t thought of this poem for some time and was reminded after hearing an audio interview clip with Monica Lewinsky having discussing her receipt of Leaves of Grass.

Like Lewinsky, and the better part of all, I wrote eighteen letters to an unrequited love several years ago. Each letter was returned, rejected outright. Till this day, I have no reason why I kept the letters. I have neither opened nor read any until today.

Lwenski reminded me of her and my letters. In their own way, both Lewinsky and this unrequited love are both strong, kind, and confident. There are many questions, but not once have I received an answer. For some time, I wanted answers because maybe they would help. But realizing that on any given day, I may not wake. From that perspective alone, I am not a long-term candidate for lasting love. In the end, she might have chosen security. All I have are these letters.

Today, I decided to share all eighteen letters. I will open one letter each day and share them with you. Originally, each letter was handwritten. Each had a theme. Some are short. Others are long. Names and locations will be changed, as required. Hopefully, in some way, one letter or one sentence will assist one of you hurting or hoping to build a bridge or simply move forward. Maybe this holiday season, you’ll be able to reach that one unrequited love.


My Dear Love:

I recently conversed with a fellow traveler to en route to Arizona. This fellow teetered back and forth about leaving one position for another – that somehow leaving the current position would ‘right the wrongs’ within his personal life.

I concurred with two points: there is such a thing as quality of life and his wasn’t.

Therein lay the problem. Looking at almost everyone met, single or couple alike, almost none have found a way to align all the pieces and compromises. Sacrifices litter the roads traveled and mountains climbed.

But the thing I’ve most admired about you is your unceasing thoughts of love and laughter. They are a profound gift that has lifted me past darker days. You have constantly created a life worth remembering – a life worth repeating – a life better than most.

My heart is full for you, pulls for you and lives for your adventures and your love.

 

Chasing Reflections

While having dinner with a friend, I told him my time was closing and inquired if there was any last thing he wanted to do or place he wished to go while I was still here.

In tears, he asked, “You can’t abandon me.”

Sorry,” I sympathetically replied.

Shrugging it off, he chuckled. “Oh please. You said yourself that no one knows how long someone has to live. You said you were going to die over a year ago. And here you are.”

Awkward pause.

What will I do without you? You’re my only friend,” he whispered.

Make new friends.”

I can’t.”

Why not?

 “I don’t fit in here.”

Having worked here since college, you’re now fairly wealthy. You can ‘cash out,’ return to your native homeland and live in relative ease.”

I can’t.”

Why?

I won’t fit in.”

So, let me understand,” I said. “You’ve worked here all this time and have friends neither here nor at home?

Revealing a painful truth, “Yes.”

What you think you want out of life and how we spend our days in it, may not be nearly as important as the vital layers accumulating within you, hidden in plain sight.

Several years ago, writer David Allen wrote the following:

Love for friends and family, the decency we exchange with those around us, the value of not doing “great things,” but small things in a great way. Those are life’s moments inscribed in our heart.

Further borrowing from Allen, What the conversation between my friend and I remind us to do is that money is not the ultimate goal in life and each of us must take our heart out and read it every so often.

I conclude with the following.

As a laborer walked home along a river, he saw a shimmering in the river.When he looked, he saw a diamond necklace. But the river was completely polluted, filthy and smelly. Still, he decided to try and catch it so he could gain it’s reward. He put his hand in the filthy, dirty river and grabbed at the necklace, but somehow missed it. The second time, he walked into the river and put his whole arm in to catch the necklace. And again, he missed the necklace. Feeling depressed, he did a most disgusting thing and plunged completely into the river. Yet, he failed again.

Just then, a Buddhist monk came upon him.

“What are you doing?” queried the monk.

The man didn’t want to share the secret, so he refused to say.

The monk asked again, “What are you doing?”

The man mustered some courage and told the monk about the necklace and his attempts to catch it.

Taking compassion at the pitiful man, the Monk replied, “Perhaps you should try looking upward, toward the branches of the tree, instead of in the river.”

The man looked up, and true enough, the necklace was dangling on the branch of a tree. All this time, he had only been trying to capture a mere reflection.

He Remains My Father

As my father hurls toward his final passing, he spends endless hours watching television – in particular, ‘NCIS.’ Until recently, I personally never watched more than a handful of episodes. My father however, spends endless hours digesting this show. Ironically, he doesn’t remember episodes. He could watch the same episode over and over and it would be new to him each time he watched, for as his cognitive abilities become limited, it’s hard to follow plot lines and characters’.

I have no particular dig against many of the of the crime drama television shows. But I will say this, most of them are a goddamn poor form of entertainment. The weekly hashing of death and destruction is awfully depressing. There is no good food for thought. Outside of the occasional humor, it’s frick’n depressing. Still I recognize that one may consider “The Kardashians” actual entertainment while others may not. And again, one who hates ‘The Kardashians‘ may love ‘Criminal Minds.’ Personally, I find neither offering value.

Searching my own values, I have many questions. From a Buddhist perspective, does seeing other people’s suffering gives us a sense of community and togetherness? By watching such shows, are we enjoined by the community with the idea we’re all in this life together? Why can’t we not appreciate what we have without having requiring some frame of reference for both positive and negative? If the goal of any Buddhist is to eliminate suffering, I query, why do I participate in another’s misery? Why am I entertained?

While my father’s situation is dire, watching these shows does not drive me to despair. My father remains an inspiring presence – one whom, even at this late stage of life, I can forge bonds regardless of such ignorance streamed via cable. For the first time in years, I studied my father, his disciplined effort to escape the skin cells that binds him and his personal quest for ultimate enlightenment. I intently studied him, his fractured body—and smiled remembering the Iron Man of my youth. I love him so.

So, in spite of the shows he watches, he remains my father. He is forever my Iron Man.

 

On a cool Saturday morning, a couple drove several hours for a presentation on family living and love.  During the ride, the husband stated he heard from his retired parents in Arizona.

My parents admitted they were $18,000 dollars in debt,” he humbled mumbled.

$18,000?” She clarified.

Yes.

How,” she queried.

I guess it’s from medical expenses not paid by insurance from dad’s two brain surgeries.

Well,” she replied. “We’re not helping your parents in any way.

Writer Jeff Anderson noted that as elderly parents begin to rely on family for more support, the amount of conflict between adult children can increase. Dealing with a parent’s care can rekindle sibling rivalries that have lain dormant for years, and the discord can tear families apart. What Mr. Anderson did not know was that the husband in the story had quietly watched his parents fall frail to health concerns. His father had two major surgeries that netted him a long-term stay in ICU and then several months in rehabilitation.

The other side of the story was that he he quietly supported his wife by providing monthly financial support to his father-in-law and sister-in-law. But now, it’s as if she was said, “Not yours, only mine.” Her response comes from anger toward her own family life. It was a sense of helplessness.

Most often a sense of helplessness manifests into continuous critiquing, judging, anger, and sometimes even rage. When one person is completely unwilling to take full responsibility for their own life feelings, it is often because they are unwilling to experience life. That, as George Benard Shaw might say, is the difference betweenbeing used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

The ‘shit’ response comes from people who tell everyone that we’re called by God and Buddha and not to allow ourselves to be consumed with anger. Yet, as a Buddhist, we must refuse to take behaviors personally. We need to be open to open another’s burden, to one another’s pain, irregardless of the pain which we endure. Yet, in many families, the relationship is one-sided and over time, one person boldly becomes the ‘asshole’ and often goes deep into personal resentment and anger. As a result, identities shift or are lost.

We must remember how we choose to act says nothing about those around us. Rather, how we choose says everything about us. Like a lot of relationships, we can blame everyone else for how we act, including parents, brother, sister, coworker, manager, etc. But ultimately, we all know that’s a bunch of bullshit. We must proactively remind ourselves that their behavior is theirs not ours, and it has nothing to do with us.

As for caring for aging parents, Brette Sember, author of “The Complete Legal Guide to Senior Care,” stated “shared responsibility” can mean different things to different families. She says the best way to avoid major family discord is to communicate; to meet and put all cards on the table.

Acknowledge that everyone has different abilities, resources, and availability,” she says. “Try to break things up into zones if possible — medical, bill paying, cleaning, food, transportation, legal, assisted living search, laundry. Give everyone some kind of responsibility, even if it means writing a check or calling mom once a day to be her sounding board.

Remember, little in life is actually about money. Money’s not everything. Each of you needs to look at what you have to offer.

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