When I was a boy, my friends were more a matter of proximity than affinity. When you’re just starting to grow, other kids are more decoration than companion, but they can be comforting. One day I accompanied my mom to a playdate. There I met a friend, someone to keep me company and begin my first socialization, my first experience of people other than my family. While I didn’t know much about my new friend, I had no objection to playing, and we got along nicely.

Of course, time went on and my relationships transformed along with me. My friend faded behind the newly prominent face of my first teacher. She smiled and welcomed me into a new world of learning. It was there I learned not only the fundamental information to recite on command, but the rules and expectations my teacher had for me. She was kind and patient with me, and I learned to accept whatever she said as true. If my teacher said it, there could be no doubt she was right. It was simple, and I was happy.

As I grew, I still tried to please my teacher, but as all adolescents discover, sometimes that’s easier said than done. Choosing pleasure and my own momentary happiness became an irresistible force. I tried to do well, but even with my best efforts, I found myself on the receiving end of disappointed frowns, and soon the principal took over the prominent place in my roster of relationships. He did very little actually to punish my behavior, but I knew he was watching with disapproval. I avoided him if I could because I had given up believing I could make him happy.

Eventually, I graduated high school and childhood, moving away to college and continuing to grow. There I sat under a professor who helped me find wonder once again. He cared more about understanding than about perfectly replicating steps by rote. He guided me through unlearning my shame and seeing what deeper meaning was there to find if I cared to look for it. He taught me to feel the poetry. He taught me to open my eyes to brand new perspectives and ways to see the world.

With heart and soul awakened like never before, I received an even greater gift from my respected professor. He introduced me to her. I hardly knew what to do with myself when I was with her, but the more I knew her, the more I loved her. I fell in love first with the little things, the details most people overlooked. Eventually, I lost myself to all of her, to my beloved.

Life after that point became the dance of longevity. I learned how to live with my beloved after the initial passions cooled, though they still awoke from time to time when we reached new places of intimacy. I learned how to let go of expectations and the need to control. Most of all, I found a new friendship.

As time flowed on, though, without the renewed intention that was natural in the early days of infatuation and became work in the era of comfortable friendship, the relationship began to fade. Less of life was shared, and it began to look like two paths instead of one. 

That divergent path led one day to a series of stone steps leading up a narrow walkway. Following it to its end, I found a small, stone cottage with a grandiose view overlooking the valley. Within sat an ageless figure with silver in her hair and light behind her smiling eyes. She held prayer in her hands and spoke love without words. I sat at her feet, and she taught me with her silence to hear the voice of God. She opened her secrets to me and told me the story of each of the relationships of my life. It is with her I still sit, and she teaches me to see, to live, to receive, and to let go. 

 

**Originally posted on An Old Song with a New Dance

Published by Brandon Johnson