2023.52 : Love Like The Sun

Adieu 2023

Love does not consist of gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars​

Throughout my childhood, random nights were terrorized by an infrequent yet recurring nightmare. Following each haunting visitation, for weeks thereafter, I resisted the embrace of sleep. In the deep quiet of the night, I sought solace in the murmurs of AM talk radio or the captivating dramas of Radio’s Golden Age from faraway states, their signals fluctuating with the whims of the Earth’s atmosphere. I would gaze through expansive windows, beholding stars that illuminated the valley floor, juxtaposed against the backdrop of a majestic mountain range.

The nightmare always began the same. I found myself, a floating observer in an impossibly vast expanse—devoid of a body, only a haunting sense of self. Abruptly, a ball of energy would zoom past in a grand orbit. Just as abruptly, a second energy ball would zip past in the opposite direction, also tracing an orbit.

Eventually, the two energy bodies would fall into a shared gravity well. Faster, accelerating to a high-speed orbit. Closer to merging. Even faster. Even closer. I screamed into the void, wanting, needing, the two energies to merge as one. In the dream, it felt like an eternity watching the bodies so hauntingly close to merging. They never did. Never. Not once. The attraction became so great they repelled each other.

That’s when I would wake up. Highly disturbed. In a sweat. A couple of times, after falling back to sleep, the dream would return for a second round of tormenting my peace of mind. As life turned out, there was no escaping this night terror once it leaped from dreamland into waking hours.

As touched upon in last week’s photo essay, I have always been drawn to impressively smart, reliably strong, and deliciously feminine women. Decades later, after a wonderful experience with The Hitchhiker (Part I, Part II), I turned to my old friend, seeking help as to why such a joyous journey left my spirit disturbed. We discovered the answer.

There’s another trait I had been drawn to: emotional unavailability, not to be misconstrued as brokenness. This unavailability manifested in numerous ways.

It took four painful hours of soul-searching with my old friend to realize that my childhood nightmare was a suppressed emotion seeking an escape. Yet another confirmation that suppressed emotions never remain dormant; they actively dismantle whatever stands between them and the exit.

What’s ironic is I have led a life dedicated to exorcising and actively discouraging suppressed emotions. I have sidestepped the majority of damage from suppressed emotions—be it physical or emotional pains. Back pain, stomach pain, headaches, a clenched jaw, grinding of teeth, neck and shoulder muscles tight as steel cables, short tempers, an inability to handle intense emotions, including love, and on and on.

In a plethora of ways, dementia sucks; the one aspect that has proven to be a profound challenge for me is the necessity to suppress emotions and words throughout the entire day. Day after day. Week after week. Month after month. After reaching a certain stage, individuals afflicted with dementia are no longer capable of engaging in the conversations needed to release suppressed emotions—theirs or the caregiver’s.

For all those who have lived a life of considerable emotional suppression, my heart goes out to you.

As 2023 comes to an end, what I take away most from the past 12 months is the commitment to love more. It also introduced me to a new favorite commentator, Orion Taraban. His ‘Love Like The Sun’ video essay beautifully expands on a prior photo essay (Love You Friend) I wrote nearly a year ago: that love isn’t taken, it’s given. His video serves as this week’s companion.

Entering 2024, a year that promises a multitude of opportunities to practice love in the face of suppressed emotion and with suppressed emotion. The only hope I see of succeeding is to love like the sun.

And now … know the photograph.

LOVE like the SUN: how men and women move beyond the exchange of value

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