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Lions Roar : September 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2011 51 what I do: turn to the stranger sitting nearby, smile, and spontaneously say, “I love you.” The thing is, I really mean it. Is it possible to love in this way? Yes, from the very bottom of your heart and mind, when everything else drops away, it is possible and it is effortless. Now, can you live that way with people you actually know? THE ROMANCE OF NO ROMANCE Where there is no romance is the most romantic. —HONGZHI As surely as trees bud in spring and leaves fall in autumn, couples in a long relationship encounter all the same stages as those who don’t make it. Yet their union endures. They survive anger and resent- ments, disappointments and reversals. They watch their interests diverge and their devotions ebb. Their responsibilities grow; their families expand; their houses fill and then empty again. What is it that favors one partnership over another? Some say it is magic, the machinations of fate, the movement of stars, the right choice, or sheer luck. I think it is something we have the power to realize and actualize for ourselves. Love that lasts allows the love story to end. It isn’t laden with romantic fantasies or regret; it’s not defined or limited, not stingy or selfish. Without form or name, this love allows all things to be as they are. It sees all of life in every season as a process of perpetual change, growth, maturation, and renewal. This love is our inherent treasure, and when we prac- tice, it shines. It is true love because it is truth. Several years after my lover left me peering into the emptied medicine chest, I got married to another man, and he and I have been together now for a long time. I make no claims for our future, nor do I sentimentalize the past. Our toothbrushes sit in silence side by side on the bathroom counter. They stand sentry over a life shared through mutual courage, acceptance, forgiveness, and very small kindnesses. Every morning I reach for my toothbrush in a transcendent act that will spread boundless love wherever I go. I brush my teeth, brighten my smile, and begin again. ♦ From Taos to Gallup and Canyon de Chelly You still come to me like a fresh lover Woman of brown and pale pink I should have left everything for you should have gone so deep into your heart I’d get lost in yellow aspen leaves stand on the straw of your autumn I should never have taken another lover I should have walked your hills till my soles burned till the sky that old dwarf opened its secrets till someone stopped whispering your name 1,000 miles away — NATALIE GOLDBERG From Top of My Lungs © 2002 by Natalie Goldberg. Published by The Overlook Press, New York, NY. All rights reserved.