I am reading Sue Conley’s book called Landslide. It’s a wonderful story about the tough work of living off professional fishing in Maine. The book opens with an explosion on the Jillian Lynne, a fishing trawler owned by fisherman Kit and his wife, Jilly. While Kit is in the hospital recuperating from the accident, Jillian replays some of the memories she has of how they met, of how they slowly and neatly fell in love with each other, and of how they eventually married and had two boys who love to challenge their parenting skills each day.
HERE IS A MEMORY: Kit takes me to a smaller island near his island with a white sand beach. These are the days before the boys are born. We’re camping in the dunes above the beach, and we swim and pretend to read on the striped blanket, but I can’t pay attention to the words because Kit’s lying beside me in the sand with his hand on my hip. I have nothing to want because I have him and want him entirely.
I love this last line: I have nothing to want because I have him and want him entirely.
I am reminded of a quote from Plautus, who seemed to believe when we are content, we have enough to live comfortably. Jilly was content in her relationship with Kit. She believed the love they shared was enough to build a happy life together.
This is a far cry from the Wall Street investment manager, Sherman McCoy. In Tom Wolfe’s novel, Bonfire of the Vanities, McCoy makes tons of money, and he loves the rush that comes with risking a small fortune to make a bigger one. He has a sweet sports car, his daughter goes to the best private school, his apartment is featured in Architectural Digest—that sort of thing. He only wears expensive clothing, and he calls himself and his partners “Masters of the Universe.” People like Sherman can never say, “I have nothing to want,” because everything around them is always saying, “Buy it. Eat it. Enjoy it. You deserve it!”
Which lifestyle do you prefer: Jilly or Sherman’s?
And if you prefer Jilly’s, are you convinced you have nothing to want because you are content with love?
I saw the movie Arthur several years ago, a movie about a rich young man who grew up never caring for anyone; then suddenly he fell in love, and he couldn’t describe the way he felt. He wanted to know if what he felt was real, so he asked a total stranger, “How can you tell if you’re in love? Does it make you feel funny? Does it make you whistle all the time?” The stranger was unphased by all of Arthur’s questions. He thought a moment and said, “You could be in love; then again, you could be getting a cold.”
Arthur’s problem is not rare. Few of us know what love truly feels like and even fewer know what love is. The word love covers a broad range of emotions, from loving pepperoni pizza, to loving children, to making love in a bungalow on a beach during summer vacation. Defining love helps no one understand what it is. We have to experience love ourselves, personally and fully, before we understand this thing that changes us inside out. And we can never fully experience it without risking everything we are and have to see where we take it and how we allow it to change us for the better.
We often associate October with the word bewitching, which means captivating, enchanting, entrancing, and fascinating. Surely love is all these and more. So what better time than now to chance everything on falling for another. And if you’re already there, I say fall a little deeper, fly a little higher, move a little closer to one you can give your all for without reserve.
To the countless moms and dads and teachers and mentors and health care workers and professional and unprofessional caregivers who offer their love, attention, and guidance to children everywhere, we thank you!
Oh, my woman’s just the sweetest little thing; she’s got brains, she’s got class, she’s so fine; but something bad musta happened to her back in the day, ‘cause there’s so something wrong with her mind. Oh, she nuts up. Man, she nuts up. And it ain’t about if, naw, it’s just about when, for God knows she’s gonna nut up again.
I’m smiling, almost laughing at Rick’s grief because I can relate. I know someone who nuts up every now and then. But my someone usually goes ballistic because I provoke her. I touch the wrong buttons, maybe mishear, misspeak, or misunderstand. I don’t always handle our relationship properly, I know. I’m just thankful my someone’s nuts up is sort of charming in a searing hot and caustic kind of way. And when it calms and passes, like Rick says in the song, she makes everything right when we turn out the lights, and rock the house at midnight.
She walks ahead of me, motioning for me to keep up. She is happy and excited and wants to show me what she’s found. I love the way she gets stoked by the little things most of us overlook, like chanterelle mushrooms, wolf spiders, and the various shades of wildflowers which come and go quickly each spring. Today she’s found a sky-blue beach rock hiding in a bed of weeds. She doesn’t want to disturb it. Its soft hue and silky-smooth surface would tempt some to boost it and display it on a shelf at home but not this naturist. She would never dream of disturbing such a work of art or removing it from its home. She is kind and has vowed to leave tiny footprints here on the earth.
When she shows me what she’s found, she asks, “Isn’t it beautiful?” Its color reminds me of the color of her eyes. I agree it’s exquisite. She tells me it would make a lovely necklace, but she’s glad it’s tucked away and safe. I watch as she smiles, breathes in, and stores away this memory for a rainy day.
I can’t describe the way I feel when I am with her. She is happy when I tag along, and watching her enjoy life so makes me glad we have found each other.
I was traveling in the darkness before dawn, driving west, away from you. The mile markers between us continued to grow. A feeling of hopelessness washed over me, like the lights had been turned out on our love. Sleet fell, casting an ominous pallor across my windshield. I felt lost, disoriented by a direction that no longer feels right. For a moment I wondered whether the pain of our repeated separations would ever reconcile with the joy of our reunions. The two are constantly at odds. The uplifting highs of being together are countered by the disheartening lows of going solo. How do I find balance between the two? I see you, and I’m on top of the world. We say our goodbyes, and I sink into despair.
I was lost in this place of despair for hours, and then something simple but amazing happened: morning. I looked east and saw a rural airport beneath a heavenly sky. My spirits rose, and I found peace in the clouds. In the light of day I saw myself heading toward you, not away. Keeping faith, I am confident our hellos and goodbyes will one day merge and find a home under a single roof.