Strangers seem comfortable warming up to me. Perhaps my inoffensive smile sets them at ease, or that any healthy woman could probably kick my ass. The fact is I really don't know why it is, but those who know me say it is remarkable how I can convert introverts into chatterboxes.
This is not to be confused with a romantic interest. Perhaps the absence of that risk deems me harmless and approachable. This stands in contrast to how often I enjoy being alone, nodding off at parties and bars if I'm forced to interact with humans too much.
Over many years, the mystery persisted until this very day, when a hypothesis of epic proportions occurred to me. People tend to love those who are already loved by others, somewhat like a snowball effect, possibly assuming that a loved person is lovable. So it is that I took inventory, not of whom I loved, which has always concerned me more than who loved me, but rather in this case who loved me and how much. My acquaintances are few and change like the weather, but my few friends love me deeply, and probably always will.
That was when the epiphany continued to God, yes that mythical creature whom I believe really exists. What if this being who is the definition of love actually loved me, and as deeply as that all-powerful guy could love? Hard to believe the fellow running the universe could give a snot for an inconsequential one-out-of-7-billion individual on a one-out-of-a-billion planet in a one-out-of-a-billion galaxy, but his bio says he can do whatever he wants. What if he wants to love me?
In the peculiar way that life can go full circle, this is in harsh contrast to the situation in my late teens when I felt so unloved that I attempted suicide. Might as well come out of the closet with that.
I was around 19, riding down the freeway on my chopper, looking bad and invulnerable in my leathers. Seething with loneliness and self pity, I locked the throttle on, leaned back, and let go of the handlebars. But the bike just kept going. I leaned forward, gave the handlebars a good whack, and leaned back again. The cars on both sides darted away, the extended front fork gave a wiggle, but then settled down to coast along without a care. The bike refused to participate in my melodrama. The drivers alongside glared, and I looked back sheepishly. My only option seemed to grab the handlebars and roar away like a proper Hells Angel.
Looking for a rational explanation may be a fruitless exercise. I'm sure a girl spurning my affections was in the mix, but I don't remember which one. The only detail I remember was a language problem. In Hungarian, the word for like and love is the same, and to make matters worse, that word was not used in my family. I was thus able to say that at 19, no one had ever said they loved me. Clearly an absurd technicality since my parents loved me dearly, it nonetheless fueled my depression.
Looking back, there is no excuse for my lunacy, and I have had only one reason to keep it to myself all these years, shame at the self-absorbed cowardice. If there is a lesson-learned, it's a reflection on all the wonders and love that have blessed me the decades to follow. Ruminating on how I almost denied myself those years, or more likely just injured myself severely, I'm struck by God's mercy, even for those who don't deserve it.
Perhaps he knew something that I didn't, which brings me back to his love. I often bumble awkwardly when presented with the love of others, but this is at least convenient in not having to face God and respond. Almost as if he senses the clumsy situation of him being a spirit, he's not confronting me for a response, but I do need to get around to it.
I'm not sure how best to love a figment of my imagination, though I do feel I owe it to him to try, given how he seems to have gone out of his way to get others to love me and to save me from myself. So it was that another piece to my puzzle fell into place on a cold morning tucked away in my tiny forest cabin.
A cold fog drifted in among the trees and crept up towards me, thick as the tentacles of a great beast. Whereas a Steven King reader would have made a run for it, I was seized by the majesty and grace of the fog's dance among the branches; first a tickling finger and soon a full embrace into which the trees disappeared. Ribbons of white flowed around the cabin, turning into thick streams of grey, and then all movement and sound stopped as we submerged into the soup. The trees were gone and I was left drifting with only a cup of hot chocolate to hang on to. All my life as a child, I had wanted to soar among clouds, and they had descended to fulfill my wish. Some poetic corner of my brain spouted the words, "the breath of God".
And there I was having fallen intensely in love with misty water droplets -- air, the closest thing we have to nothingness, supersaturated with dihydrogen monoxide. The only way to rationalize such an emotional outburst toward molecular particles was to ascribe their wonder to something or someone more profound. Because the definition of God can be as broad as necessary, that someone had to be the Big Guy. By extension, I was loving him if I loved the splendor of fog engulfing a forest. It's the only alternative to being a nut job having epiphanies over physical phenomenon easily explained by a handful of equations.
If I could love the cold breath of forest fog, I could love the Great Spirit by extension, by his manifestations in my world. Seemed much easier than going wherever he was and loving him there.
The next puzzle piece to land was that I was already doing that. I loved my dad while he lived, but I didn't stop loving him after he died. Even stranger, I have a certain love for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. I've read a lot about their lives and how they helped form this great country, which curiously enough I also love. A dead guy, people I've never met, and even a governmental arrangement -- it seems my love can spread rather far and wide beyond people I can touch. The key seems to be to love what I can see and understand here and now, not some almighty spirit beyond comprehension, and then by extension to follow those lovable things to their potential source and then love that as well.
If there is a conclusion, it is to see God in the daily miracles around me, the things and people who are easy to love, to try to notice and feel. It can be as easy as spying a fly that just now landed near me, cleaning its face with its arms -- doing all that and mastering flight with a brain too small to see. Or the pile of chemicals in the mirror able to have all these thoughts. So much to love, and all I have to do is follow the trail of coincidences to bring them together into my private theory of everything.
Copyright © 2015 Peter Shikli