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a passionate repentance

Dear Sam, I don't think it's very likely that you're ever going to…

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may God stand
Dear Sam,
I don't think it's very likely that you're ever going to read these journal entries. There are times when I hope to God you aren't. There are some things that mortal men are not meant to know. On the other hand, there are a lot of really good, juicy things that you're never going to get to know, unless your auntie tells you.

Come here, then.

First off. I love you. You know your mom loves you and you know your grandma loves you and you know that your aunt Trish loves you but you don't see me quite as often and so you don't know me quite as well. I do love you though. You keep that thought in your mind. You remember it, and hold onto it, onto all of those thoughts. Because there are times when you probably won't feel much like any of it is true.

I don't think love has crap all to do with how you feel. Just so you know.

I know..there are a lot of songs out there about feeling love, and feeling desire and feeling ..things. Mostly each other, if you read between the lines. The thing is, feelings come and go. You can feel something strongly one minute and then not feel it at all the next, and that's perfectly normal. It's like the tide going in and out. Sometimes the tide is in strongly and you're walking with your best friend and it seems like nothing in this world can ever come between you. Then he or she says something..and you realize that what you felt before is nothing compared to the annoyance and irritation you feel now. And that's just as true as the love and the delight you felt earlier. Feelings are like that.

Love isn't words either. Oh, people can say that they love you, and they may mean every single syllable. Those same people can say that they hate you too, and they mean that. Or they can talk about brotherhood and tolerance for all races in one breath, but they can talk about Republicans as if they were Satan's bartenders, or talk about the Democrats as if they were all out handing out pornography to children with one hand and picking the pocket of the poor honest working man with the other.
(Try not to worry too much about allusions like that, they're to do with the political parties of this time. I don't know if the America you grow up to inherit will have Republicans or Democrats. I do know that I hope it will be a better place than the one that I grew up in.)

Words encapsulate ideas and feelings. The moment that you encapsulate something and enshrine it within a word to give that word meaning, it begins to die. I'm not advocating that we all live without words, for one thing it would make reading hella boring. For another, living without words would mean that certain concepts captured by words but no longer in common parlance would not be available to you. Like "chivalry" or "Romanticism. Words, however, aren't love. They come as close as those little capsules can come to describing what love is, but in reality do you really need to know what ideas and feelings someone has about love? Or do you really want to know what it is?

Okay, you say..and quite reasonably too "You've convinced me that love isn't a feeling, and it's not a set of words. You're coming awfully close to running out of acreage, Aunt Nikki. What is love, if not feelings or thoughts and not words?"

Kid, I'm glad you asked.

There're a lot of definitions of love out there. And each person's definition is valid as hell for him. But nobody can really define love for you, because everybody approaches it in a different way. And you can't begin to define it, hell, you can't even begin to approach it until you've experienced it. So basically it's only when you get loved that you learn how to love.

Now, don't get all discouraged. For one thing, you're more loved than you will ever know. All the love in the world that flows from person to person, even from person to animal and animal to person, all that love is yours too. You were born in that love. You've grown up in that love, and you will live your whole life in that love. You're off to a good start.

Okay, sez you..I have been loved. So how will I know love, so I know what it is, and I can reproduce it? Well, say I..that's a damn good question. You see, Sparky I left something out. You can usually fairly accurately determine how someone feels about you by the way they act toward you.

I define love as putting the happiness of the beloved one above your own happiness. So look around you at the people you are close to. Do they do things that help and benefit you? Do they put your happiness above their own?

Yeah, well, what about all those times when people don't do that?

Honey, people aren't consistent. It's just a fact of life. It's right up there with other facts of life, like "Just because someone doesn't know how to do something does not mean that he isn't going to tell you how to do it." The point isn't that Mom or I or your grandpa or your grandma do everything the same way all the time. The point is that you should be able to see a pattern in what we do. A pattern of loving you.

Sometimes you're going to get to meet people who are really confused. They may claim that they love you and they really mean it, but they don't act as if they love you. When you confront them, they're going to be hurt and upset and sad, because they really do mean it.

Here's where you've got to make a choice. Is what this person says, and the pleasure of their company going to be enough to make up for the fact that they don't treat you as if they love you? Maybe it will be for a while but it might not later. And that's okay. I'm not going to talk a lot about rights and wrongs, because that's really your mom's job. What I will say is that every chance, every opportunity you have has a cost. Sometimes that cost is hidden. Sometimes it's pretty clear what will happen. You can choose to go on words and feelings, and accept this person into your home and your life. Or you can say "Hell, no, I am not a doormat." And say 'no." Does the cost of that opportunity--putting up with somone's bull make up for the awful moments? Or doesn't it? If it doesn't..don't stick with it. It's nobody's destiny to be unhappy.

Finally..and here is where I stop turning pages...

You've got that skeptical gleam in your eye. The kind that means there're going to be awkward questions at dinner. And I see you're nodding wisely. "What if all of this is some kind of wierd brainwashing idea to get me to eat those stupid brussels sprouts"?

Hey..you got me there. It *is* an attempt to get you to examine your life and the people around you. And maybe eat a few vegetables.

One brussels sprout won't kill you.

Aunt Nikki
  • Coolness!
  • Someday I am going to meet you and say to your face what I say now, only you will be able to read it in me and know it's truth: I love you for who you are, and I just love you.
  • You are so cool. Really.
    (But one Brussells sprout might kill you. Have you ever tasted those things? ::massive shudder::)
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