A few years ago, I painted the ice box and upright deep freezer fronts with chalkboard paint. I had written some words and phrases on the ice box with chalk markers and later when I washed them off, they left traces of the lines. My older duchess was here recently and wanted to draw with the chalk. I gave her the little container of chalk and went on with the dish washing. I looked around a few minutes later and she had drawn a cloud and a rainbow. Then she had traced over the letters she could still see faintly showing. “Love with reckless abandon” and the heart outline I had washed off for them to be able to use it for their play had been retraced.
She wanted to know what it said. (She’s four.) I told her and then she wanted to know what it meant.
I tried to explain.
Later, I thought about loving with reckless abandon. To me, it is how it felt when I was her age and even until I was about ten. When I loved, it was without reservation. It was without condition or hesitation or fear of rejection or concern about reciprocation. Love just was and everyone felt it as intensely as I did. Or so I thought. I am speaking of more than romantic love. I am also speaking of love between two individuals as friends or family members. I was in my twenties before I truly realized that the experience of love I have is not universal. I was so terribly naïve. I thought love could work itself through anything. It cannot work one way, though.
As we age, cynicism tends to set in. Or simply protective layers develop without our realizing. Many people never learn how to love. Some only love themselves. Many people never feel the exuberance of real, deep, true love. As I age, I think “many” should probably read “most”. Perhaps early on they had it, but life was too painful to continue to try to sustain the seeking of reciprocation. The heart and mind push away the painful memory and they forget it exists.
Maybe that is why grandchildren are so important to our hearts. When we are young and our children are young, there is a feeling of safety with the love between us. The knowing that at the end of the day, the snuggles and hugs are without reservation. The love in our hearts has a reckless abandon that only confidence of unconditional reciprocation brings. That same feeling returned with the duchesses’ arrival into the world.
Love, passion, anger. Strong emotions we are taught to control and suppress. They are reckless. They are dangerous. They bring with them pain. Pain is proof of being alive. I continue to strive for the fullness of exuberance and love. May I have the courage to face the pain of it all and love with reckless abandon. As I age, I want the scales of protection to fall away. I want the tender places to be open again. With maturity, I hope to manage the pain with grace and mercy and not with closing off.
I want to love Him and him with reckless abandon and exuberance and passion. I want to grow into the person the Lord wants me to be. I want to grow into the woman my husband needs me to be. I want to grow into the mother and grandmother my children need as the years continue. We still have a lot of living to do and I want it to be as wonderful as the first 37 years. Even better. Happy Anniversary, Rock. I love you! Recklessly.