Since the beginning of time, unclothed people of all races and all places were preaching what the Beatles put into pop music centuries later: “All you need is love, love, love is all you need.” Today the message is everywhere. It’s in the cliché, framed decors from Target, hanging in the hallway of many suburban homes, reading something like, “Love is patient, love is kind, love never hurts..” It’s spray painted it on buildings or tattooed on flesh. We hear Ru Paul every week on Ru Paul’s Drag Race say, “If you can’t love yourself, how IN THE HELL you ever gonna love somebody else? NOW, she knows something about love (if you’re not watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race, get on it people, it’s the ONLY reality show offering a colorful spiritual experience). There are countless books on the subject of love, yoga teachers are preaching it (probably in Sanskrit so you don’t understand, but you’re all “Namaste” anyway), the person guiding your meditation is like, “send love out reverberating through the room, the city, the world” And you’re probably like, “MMMMM love… I’m starving, my legs are numb, I need to do the dishes, I want a manicure, oh I should check my bank balance. Bring it back. mmmmm love…I have to pee” I have a friend who completely beat Lyme Disease say, “people always ask me what got me well, and, the truth is, I think love got me well. Love heals.” Love heals. Good news: I, too, am a lover of love. I, too, believe that love heals. In fact, I KNOW it does, and it’s not all that complicated.
It was just a month ago. I went north to Ojai, CA, for the day to meet my boyfriend, Ian, on one of his cycling routes. Ojai is a picturesque, lazy little town. It’s encased by beautiful mountains and populated by the down-to-earth wealthy – each shop on the main strip closes by 5 pm which is when all of the locals eat their home cooked vegan meals, read, and go to sleep. The non locals are there to camp, to visit the hot springs, to hike, to “adventure.” I have a really hard time in “adventuring climates” these days. I was a pro, low maintenance adventurer – all I needed was my hiking boots and I’d figure the rest out as I went. One time, I hiked in a pair of children sized CK boxer briefs because that was all that I could find on a whim, but I had my trusty hiking boots. They were my companions, my symbol of freedom – freedom to go and be wherever, whenever. It looks DIFFERENT now. Those boots are gone and my new ones are 6 months old and still look new. The mountains mock me, I swear. They tease me like childhood playmates, “Hahahah ,You’re not well enough to enjoy this giant playground. You just stay in your TIME-OUT and watch all of the others have all the fun.” I mourn the girl I once was.
I know enough now to know that ANY “getaway” has the potential to cause this deep sadness which, in effect, causes more symptoms. I feel my cells get tired from the depression and I watch my body, piece by piece, fall into the darkness of the STORY, “I’m never going to get better. I’m never going to be spunky and fun and ABLE again. I want to climb those mountains and I can’t. This is some sort of cruel joke. I want to be free. Please let me be free.” And, every time I create this particular story, that’s when I start to cry. Gets me every time. I mean, who wouldn’t sob with a story like that rolling around in their brain? My mission, on this trip to Ojai, was to avoid the story and just enjoy the sunshine.
It was a FAIL. I met up with Ian already fatigued. I felt ugly and isolated from all of the smiling tourists. I felt isolated from the sunshine. Ian is annoyingly unswayed by my little tantrums and suggested we get food. With my head down I was like, “whatever. sure. I mean, fine. I guess I should eat. I hate everyone.” That’s what came out of my mouth, and in my head, I was like, “Please stop this train. You don’t need to go into this feeling,” and I’m praying and I’m talking to my inner child (YUP- IT WORKS) , and I was considering just leaving because maybe I just couldn’t handle it today. Nothing was working- I went down the rabbit hole quickly and ungracefully. By the time we sat down to eat, I had reached that tear- jerker part of the story that I mentioned earlier, and I was crying. Mostly anxiously sniffling and feeling the sweat on my palms build up while I stared out of the cafe window, watching the world I didn’t feel apart of. Ian got quiet which made me MUCH MORE ANXIOUS because now I’m like, “great AND he’s going to break up with me because I can’t pull myself together and I’m no fun to be with and I can’t climb the mountains with him and I’m the worst.” And, THAT , is precisely when I start weeping. That is ALWAYS the final sentence in my tragic story. There’s no further to fall. Now, as far as my head tells me, I’m going to be sick forever AND alone.
I had maybe managed to chew and swallow three fork loads of a NOT gourmet salad in-between tears. I kept my head down, shamefully, and asked for a to-go box the next time the waitress came over. My head was wild with thoughts, “do I go home? do I fight through? HOW AM I EVER GOING TO BEAT THIS ONE? I’M IN TOO DEEP.”
The to go box was gently placed in front of me by a smiling waitress, “here you go!” I opened it to find a folded, uncolored coloring page- the kind that the diner offers to children with the hope of keeping them occupied. Written in big letters with crayon, it said, ‘READ THIS.” I really love surprises, so I unfolded it intently, and it read, “DON’T CRY. YOU ARE LOVED.” I immediately broke into hunched over, uncontrollable sobs. The world had reached out, put its arms around me, and gave me a great, big, warm bear hug. I felt safe enough to cry in its shoulder. The sunshine I had felt isolated from radiated around me. I smiled, first while crying, and then calmly. I glanced towards the waitress with my hand on my heart, “thank you,” I mouthed.
The mountains looked beautiful. I took photos, including that self-portrait of me up there, with my wings, in the woods. I interacted with Ian gracefully and lovingly – we even found time and energy to play hot lava. Near the end of the day, I said, “that note saved the day. Have you noticed how much lighter I’ve been since I got that note? That it was ALL i needed?” It WAS magic. He said, “Yeah, I should have thought of doing that myself.” Yeah, no kidding, Ian, get it together. Just kidding- that dude is a rock star of the love.
I make it a practice to never under-estimate the seemingly tiny things we do that can have an impact like that. That one little note made me smile, which made Ian smile and will likely make YOU smile. Maybe your heart will feel lighter now, too. Maybe you will have a better day. That waitress, I don’t even know her name, is still saving the day with her love. It works, and sometimes it’s that simple, “All you need is love, love, love is all you need.”