Photo by goingslo, Flickr Creative Commons
In college, I wrote a six word poem:
This is not a love poem.
Except, I struck out the words like this:
This is not a love poem.
Then I turned it over to my creative writing class:
This is not a love poem by Kim Dinan
Everyone thought it was genius.
My writing group, full of smart, egotistical, and hard to please 20-something males (who took this stuff so seriously that they all went on to get Masters and PhD’s in creative writing), went apeshit.
My professor gave me an A++.
The thing was, the poem was a total accident. My celebrated poem was actually just the title to what would surely have been some insufferable elucidation on young love. I’d written the words and then, frustrated that I was unable to come up with anything but the title, crossed them out and gave up on the poem completely.
Only later did I flip through my notebook and rediscover it. The words, struck but still visible, caught my attention. I loved what those crossed-out words implied. I loved that I could feel the whole story in that tiny sentence.
As I wrote in my last post, I’ve been struggling with my idea of home. Where is home? What makes home? How do you give credit to a place or thing or person that has impacted you deeply, even if it isn’t a part of your present day life anymore?
The poem, I think, it demonstrates the answer. Because what the poem implies is this: What you’ve loved you never really leave behind. You can try to strike it out, to forget it, to pretend it isn’t a part of who you are now, but what you’ve experienced will always be a part of you. It’s fruitless to try and move forward denying that truth.
As I get older, I’m learning that it is better to take what has impacted you and fold it in to yourself, in the same way you fold flour into batter at breakfast time. Let whatever it is- the person, the place, the experience- mix into the parts of you that were there before. Let your experiences make you more delicious. Love everything, even the bad stuff, for how it has changed you.
Our years are a rotating door, ushering new people and places and experiences into the building. The more you put yourself out there, the quicker your door spins. That’s life, and like life, some of the things that come in the door will impact you profoundly. We can’t leave those things behind any more than we’d leave our arm propped up by the door like an unused umbrella. What’s a part of you comes with you. It is you now.
There are many schools of thought on this, but I am of the belief that nothing is coincidence. Everything we are given: pain, humiliation, joy, humor, it is all a purposeful gift. Love, in all of its forms, is the biggest gift of all. We are meant to let love change us and we are meant to view the world through the lens of what we love.
There is no separating everything we have ever been from everything we will ever be. We can only hope that our experiences can be leveraged in a way that help us unfold a clearer, bigger version of ourselves. We can only hope that we realize we are blessed with this messy experience of loving and moving on and leaving things behind. It is a complicated process and it is also a gift. To love something and leave it, yet to know that it never leaves you, is a miracle of being human.