I want to live the rest of my life, however long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the people I love, and doing as much as I can of the work I still have to do. I am going to write fire until it comes out my ears, my eyes, my noseholes — everywhere. Until it’s every breath I breathe. I’m going to go out like a fucking meteor!
— Audre Lorde
I’ve been worried about my insatiable love of trees.
It is a passion that has lain dormant for decades.
There had been no practical reason to nurture it, so I put it on a shelf and moved onto other things.
I did not realize how much I had been longing to remember this love that was born when I was 4 and found trees to be a kind of haven from a chaotic childhood.
Every day my son and I take two walks, and we visit the trees. My love has reawakened with a bang. You have a kid and you finally give yourself permission to love what you love without a reason. Strange.
Our coffee table is littered with field guides. It felt rude not to call them by their proper and specific names so now my love is turning into an obsession.
It is so much pressure—this responsibility of showing my son the world. How he learns to love through my eyes. What what about bugs? Or tomatoes? Or mealtime? He will never learn to love these things from me. But—trees! This is a passion I can teach.
Maybe he will hate trees. And I will be crushed but I will carry on.
I wonder why we become a certain age and decide that we don’t have space for certain types of love — the seemingly non-productive or random kinds, those without an apparent through-line in our larger narrative but that make us cry just thinking about them.
(I wrote a passionate, attention-grabbing science paper about the forest floor in 6th grade but couldn’t figure out how dendrology fit into the rest of my life so I didn’t do much else from there…)
What if “adulting” could leave a little space for risking our unexplainable exuberance?
And what if there is a through-line, it’s just not the linear sense we are used to measuring ourselves against?
The fullest most intoxicating people I know are the people who love what they love. Even if it makes no sense. I want to be one of these people. I want my son to know a world with women full of what they love.
In our efforts to locate the next step on our paths, we spend a great deal of time relentlessly trying to find the unifying principle, the one cohesive WHY that makes our whole life makes sense.
But what if our next chapter is more expansive than making sense?
What if we are more than one big idea?
What if the through-line is love?
If you are one of the thoughtful, brilliant, aware people doing some reimagining and re-envisioning right now, I invite you to consider what happens when you stop trying to make so much sense.
The potent, urgent language of our souls is deeper than a perfectly articulated WHY statement or a catchy Instagram bio.
Our souls direct us toward things far more rapturous than making sense. Aliveness, for example. Wild creativity. Radical cultural change. Spiritual awakening.
Perhaps the moment we stop trying to make sense is the moment our life truly begins. Perhaps it is the strategy we need for the future we desire most.
Perhaps the most advanced human move is to love what we love and stop trying so hard to explain ourselves.
An exercise to go deeper, if you desire:
For the next few days, pay attention to what you love. Take a few notes if that helps. Do not worry about trying to figure out why you love these things or to make that love productive or cohesive with your life. Don’t pressure yourself to feel joy, even, just be curious. Notice what happens to your body when you let yourself run toward your exuberance without explaining it. Notice what happens to your heart.
(Also if you love tomatoes or bugs or mealtime please come over and teach my kid how to love these things because we are very biased over here).
What are some of your seemingly random, inexplicable loves?
What happens when you run toward them anyway?
Photo by Arnaud Mesureur