Once upon a Wednesday morning I was driving to work and experienced an overwhelming surge of love for someone I haven't seen (and barely thought of) in nearly 20 years. It happened, of course, as Guns-n-Roses played on the radio and I recalled the community theatre actor who played Giles to my Molly in a fabulous production of "The Mousetrap" in 1989. The actor, who I can picture, hear, and feel vividly enough, but whose name I would have to work a little harder to recall, was alcoholic, young and mixed-up, with a shot-gunned, knocked-up wife, and a dead-on Axl Rose impersonation. He was not -- to me -- particularly lovable. But, I always sort of did have a feeling of (no doubt slightly patronizing) compassion for him. Today, I felt a rush of super-human love for him to the tune of 80s glam metal.
Facebook chatting with my pal K the other night I found the metaphor to describe how I feel a lot of the time these days. She, in a new chapter of her life (job, geography, relationships, status) after years of relative stability (is that fair, K?), and also being a photographer, said it feels like she's experiencing things through the lens of a camera, not as a real person present in her own situations.
I, in a relatively same chapter of my life (my eighth year in this job -- do you know how many tries it took me to figure out how to spell 8th?! what an odd word -- the longest I've EVER done ANYTHING), yet relative stability also so immeasurably disrupted as one of the most stable roots of my life is absent. . . . I feel much of the time like I am in the other room trying to take a nap but can hear the rest of my life going on around the corner and it's bugging me. I just want to sleep, but I'm (mentally) sweaty, groggy, and irritated by. . . my actual lived life.
Yet. . . I get these mysterious, energizing feelings of love like little electric surges throughout my days and weeks. I just love the women who work the drive-through at my local McDonald's. I kind of miss them now that I am the normalized-owner of a coffee press and make my own iced drink to take to work in lieu of buying on the run. Back when I did fast-food it, though, I often had this moment of powerful, improbable love for them as we seemed to genuinely wish each other good days over the exchange of paper and liquid addictive substances.
And every now and then I'm sitting at my desk and get a surge of love for one or the other of my two bosses. Not necessarily or rationally connected to an immediate task, just a wave that washes over and then I carry on.
This morning I was reading through some old journals and emails from my time in Cambodia four years ago, remembering thickly a feeling of love for all the people I would sit and watch -- from our balcony early in the mornings while markets set up, in crowded tourist spots. . . . How more present and awake I felt even while so incredibly exhausted and exhilarated, and sticky with sweat. I realize that was a season, an exceptional time and place away from the often sickening, productive pace of my culture, job, and personality-leanings. But, I covet even a taste of those surges of what I can only call love, even while knowing it's a complex, over-misused word.
And it does happen with other people and in other times now, beyond a random radio-ized memory or McDonald's drive-through. In the midst of busyness, blurriness, blechness. . . . Oh! I just met with my new TA, and I LOVE her. (That one makes a little more sense than more random surges, because not only does she help me a lot, but she also, of course, reminds me a little bit of long-time-ago-Me.)
It's mysterious, unbidden, sporadic, and welcome; the love surges are working.
The surge is working. Is it a beginning of an answer to your hope at the faculty workshop that you would be a person who made your students and others feel loved? If you experience real love toward someone, I guess it's easier to do what you can to make them feel special. But in an effort to over-extend the metaphor that I'm probably misreading from the beginning, what do you say to those who don't want to say whether the surge worked or not because it shouldn't have been necessary in the first place? The invasion shouldn't have happened in the first place. What's the invasion? What's the insurgency? What's the surge trying to overcome? Is it our general inability/unwillingness to see people as God sees them (and therefore love them)? I'm going to have to transfer some of the rest of my faculties required to win this losing metaphor to other fields of operation, so I'll spare you any more lost time and me any more lost prestige in your world.
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