past loves

2013 and Where My Heart's Been

It's been a damn long year. 

2013 will go down in my books as one of the craziest, most unpredictable and unbelievable years I've had. But I'm not entirely surprised. I opened this year telling myself that this was the time to really push myself out of my comfort zone and put myself out there. An old journal entry from exactly a year ago today has these simple words splayed on the page in gigantic, capital letters: DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY. 

So I did. And oh, the places it's taken me! 

Those three simple words have taken me to Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda in a journey that I still find myself daydreaming about, wondering if it was actually real. That experience taught me about patience, understanding, empathy, friendship, leadership, and what true cross-cultural dialogue and solidarity really looks like. It taught me the importance of staying present in every moment. And it connected me to some of the most gentle souls I've ever met who will always be the shape and the depth of these dots on a map. 

This year I found myself in places and situations I wouldn't have expected. I found myself--against all reason--willingly jumping off a fucking 44m-high ledge into the Nile River (or what others like to call "bungee jumping"). I found myself on a boat in the pitch dark with nothing but the boundless sky above me and the Indian Ocean around me. I found myself writing a cover story for a magazine. I found myself taking up rock climbing and being kinda obsessed with it. I found myself running a 5K and then climbing up the CN Tower again. I found myself in New York City in the same room as Bill Clinton, Muhammed Yunus, Belinda Gates, and Richard Branson. And then I found myself roaming the city alone. I found myself learning how and really loving to paint. I found myself solidifying a number of friendships, forming new ones, and truly recognizing the depth of what it means to be a family...

...and that's just a snapshot of where my heart's been in 2013.

It's been an intentional year and though I've yet to scribbe the words to define my 2014, here's hoping it will be just as purposeful and full of love. 

Past Loves and Ancient Ruins

So I'm a little hesitant to write this post because I've steered clear from writing about romantic love publicly on this blog. But I'm reading this book and I came across a line that really spoke to me and I can't help but pour some thoughts in here...

In this book (Delicacy by David Foenkinos, in case you're interested), the leading lady is reeling from the tragic death of her husband and the narrator notes,

"With the death of François she'd lost all her if everything she knew about love had been ravaged. Her heart beats on these ruins."

I recently traveled to Rome and Angkor where I witnessed truly majestic ancient ruins, where glorious ancient civilizations once stood. And when I think about it, past love is very much like these ruins. A nearly barren land (in your heart) that holds just a glimmer, a glimpse of where something truly great once stood...where grandeur, magic, and the promise of forever seemed oh so real. It's still there and it probably always will be...but only pieces--fragments, really--still stand.

In a way, it's tragic to think that something that once held so much grandeur and magic and promise has been lost and ravaged by time. But it's beautiful know that some part will always be there, albeit in another form, ready to be revisited at any time. Isn't that enough?

And perhaps another parallel with these lost loves and lost civilizations comes the myth making that surrounds them both. Much of the history of Rome, Angkor, and many other ancient civilizations is steeped in a mixture of fact and fiction. And I don't doubt that the same is true for our past loves. We create our own narratives -- we romaticize or we villainize the loves of our lives and create stories of the time we shared together.

They're so similar really...the ruins of a civilization and the ruins of a love. It's funny we don't easily recognize that connection.