Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On joy and fear

Yesterday afternoon was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me. I spent most of the day in the usual way, slogging through paperwork and planning at work. The morning offered a ray of sunshine for me, as I got to leave the office and facilitate a SafeZone session with this year's Orientation leaders. They're a great group, and the session went very well...leaving me in a pretty good mood.

Late in the afternoon I decided it was time to check up on the search for Craig Arnold. Craig is a poet, professor at UW, and friend to many here in Laramie. He's been part of the Flock, connected with the GLBT community, and revived open mike poetry readings/slams. In other words, he's a sweetie with a big heart, an infectious smile, and a place in our hearts. He traveled to Japan to visit a volcano for a project he's been working on, and went missing on a hike. After 10 days of searching, the teams were called off. Things aren't looking great, as they found his footprints leading up to a step dropoff, but not back down.

I was emailing with him a few months back about sexual harassment training, and my hope of his safe return is dwindling in my heart. It made me think about his son, Robin, and the nights we all spent frolicking and cavorting at Mark and Tessa's old apartment and the original Flock Hall. It made me think about his partner, Rebecca, and what she must be going through right now. Terror instantly seized my heart: what if it were Jesse who was missing? How would I go on? Process it? Survive? I realized that my greatest fear has changed, and losing Jesse is now the worst thing I can imagine for myself. I suppose that's a true measure of love, as his life means more to me now than my own.

Still reeling from the weight of Craig's disappearance and the fears it brought up within me, I drove home and made an overdue phone call. Margaret and Coley had called recently to invite us to their wedding party here in Wyoming. They were in Boston when I called, and Coley beamed through the phone as she said "We're officially married now." They were married in Provincetown, and though I've only seen a couple of "unofficial" photos, it was absolutely perfect. They left for their honeymoon in Key West this morning. Naturally I gushed congratulations at them, and told them how much it means to me that two of the greatest hearts I know have found happiness in each other.

It made me think about my own wedding, and the love and commitment behind it. It was something like a familiar hug, wrapping me in warmth. It also brought me to another bout of tears, thinking again about Robin and Rebecca. About love and loss, about uncertainty and fear. I could almost feel my own heart aching with love for Jesse, and its vulnerability since giving him a piece of it. I couldn't dwell on that, though, as it was too much to bear, even in the hypothetical. But that's the nature of love, isn't it? Letting someone into our hearts can brighten the darkest recesses of our soul, but also opens us to pain and suffering if something goes wrong.

Today's lesson: We all have a choice. We can give into the fear and remain closed off and remote. We can let our fear of losing someone paralyze us, spiral us into depression, or pull back into ourselves. Or we can use that fear to help us protect one another, cherish one another, and remind us how much those we care about really mean to one another. We can use it to make the most of every moment we have together, sharing in a joy that some ignore or take for granted. Don't give into the fear, friends...use it.

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