“I don’t know if I’ve learned anything yet! I did learn how to have a happy home, but I consider myself fortunate in that regard because I could’ve rolled right by it. Everybody has a superficial side and a deep side, but this culture doesn’t place much value on depth — we don’t have shamans or soothsayers, and depth isn’t encouraged or understood. Surrounded by this shallow, glossy society we develop a shallow side, too, and we become attracted to fluff. That’s reflected in the fact that this culture sets up an addiction to romance based on insecurity — the uncertainty of whether or not you’re truly united with the object of your obsession is the rush people get hooked on. I’ve seen this pattern so much in myself and my friends and some people never get off that line.
But along with developing my superficial side, I always nurtured a deeper longing, so even when I was falling into the trap of that other kind of love, I was hip to what I was doing. I recently read an article in Esquire magazine called ‘The End of Sex,’ that said something that struck me as very true. It said: “If you want endless repetition, see a lot of different people. If you want infinite variety, stay with one.” What happens when you date is you run all your best moves and tell all your best stories — and in a way, that routine is a method for falling in love with yourself over and over.
You can’t do that with a longtime mate because he knows all that old material. With a long relationship, things die then are rekindled, and that shared process of rebirth deepens the love. It’s hard work, though, and a lot of people run at the first sign of trouble. You’re with this person, and suddenly you look like an asshole to them or they look like an asshole to you — it’s unpleasant, but if you can get through it you get closer and you learn a way of loving that’s different from the neurotic love enshrined in movies. It’s warmer and has more padding to it.”
I attended a writer’s workshop near Seattle last week. I camped in a little tent in the middle of a beautiful forest. I was camping alone, but I didn’t feel lonely. The frogs of the nearby pond serenaded me nightly. I would lie each night in my tent beneath two huge old spruce trees and revel in their chorus. Here’s what I learned about frogs…
Frog timing is impeccable. Each night, one or two tiny frogs begin the frog chant and then another 2 or 3 will join in echoing the melody of the first perfectly. Then a third group joins, echoing the same melody. They join their voices and build a master symphony piece by piece, until their ultimate harmony rises and falls, undulating and echoing off the pond. Each masterpiece only lasts for one moment, maybe two. And then silence. Each serenade abruptly stops as if a maestro has cut the air with his baton to signal cease! Yet there is no maestro conductor on this pond. Only a few tiny green frogs magically harmonizing together.
At times, the nightly frog serenade would get so loud that I would literally have trouble thinking. But I was actually ok with that. Witnessing their creation up close was my compensation. It was fascinating to me that each frog sang out his piece of the symphony so loud and proud. I sensed zero hesitation and not an ounce of shame. One night as I listened to the symphony, I wondered to myself what I might learn from these little frogs. There had to be a reason my tent was positioned on the front row at this frog concert. It was too serendipitous to be an accident.
On my third night in the front row at frog symphony hall, I finally received the lesson frog was offering. I realized that I had been lying in my tent each night, debating with myself about how much of my story to write. I had been debating how much of me it was safe to share with the world. Meanwhile just outside, a tiny little frog sat on the muddy bank of a tiny little pond and bellowed out his song. He bellowed out his offering to the Gods with joy and gusto, night after night with little hesitation, Frog refused to be silent. He just belted out his creations for all the world to hear.
Frog didn’t waste time worrying about who was listening. He didn’t worry about what his audience would think of his song. He just sang his song night after night. He sang it with gusto. Maybe, just maybe I was lying there in a tent next to frog’s pond to receive a lesson in the art of expressing myself with joyful abandon?
Joyful abandon… I love the sound of that. Juicy green joyful abandon! I could definitely use more of that in my life. 🙂
A·ban·don əˈbandən/ noun – complete lack of inhibition or restraint