Thursday, January 26, 2012

Surprise, surprise.

I've been surprised by a lot of what life's thrown at me. Relationships, births, deaths, adventurous travels--all of it, so unexpected.

I remember the globe my family kept in the living room when I was a child. At that point in my life, my world was pretty small. Nice parents, a silly brother, some family, and a smattering of friends and teachers. Before I was 10, I don't think I ever left Southern California. I'd look at the globe, spin it halfway around, and gaze at China. Halfway around the world. And yet, so tiny on the map.

When I was 20, my tiny world began unfolding at an exponential rate. As I grew up, I learned how distances actually could be compressed to the point of becoming inconsequential. With a bit of pluck and a few extra pennies, those distances could be traversed in a single plane flight. But standing on the Great Wall of China when I was 20 was only the beginning. Since then, there have been loves. There have been degrees and jobs earned. There have been trips taken and trips cancelled. There have been family members lost, and family members born.

Grove of Aspens
 But after reading Emily Rapp's lovely article over on The Rumpus, I'm reminded of the biggest surprise of all: Our hearts are vaster than I ever imagined it to be. Forget the Gap's infinitely forgiving stretch jeans; the human heart's capacity for love, like an ant capable of carrying ten times its own weight, is the real miracle.

What I notice as I've gotten older is the way the friendships I've made on the playground, on the yoga mat, and in the teachers' lounge have quietly guided our lives. We no longer happen to be friends. Our lives have been shaped by each other, and it's as if we are now inextricably linked. I think of the way Aspens grow--their roots are intertwined, as if they were a family. Chop one down and the whole colony could die.

Had you told the little girl with the globe about the experiences that lay before her, she would have said no one's heart would be big enough to bear them. And yet, it seems the heart grows like some magical oddity--Harry Potter and the Infinitely Expanding Heart!

Thanks to my dear friends for letting those roots mingle...


Juliana said...

You hit the nail on the head here, E. Friendships are so amazing. In the last year I went through some deep mourning for friendships that have slipped away but more recently I've come to realize those friendships really helped me become the woman I am today. <3

Michelle said...

This thought is very comforting. My nephew was born 2 years ago and I love him so much. He's the brightest spot in my life and he's not even mine! When my sister-in-law was pregnant with my second nephew I thought, how can I possibly love this little guy as much as I love his brother? And somehow it just happens - my heart expanded. I'd like to have my own children someday - I don't know how that love will fit either, my heart may push my ribs out. :-)

Yolk E said...

Aww, Michelle, the growing love for your new nephew thing is so sweet. It makes me think of the Buddha's ideas about doing compassionate things; we're like candles, and lighting other candles does not diminish our own light.

Big hug to you, J :-)

Martina said...

Oh my dear friend, I love this and I am honored to be one of the roots that gets to tangle up with you!