Sometimes I cannot bear to reconcile my longing to be off the grid with the love I have come to know through people. Sometimes I am filled with dread walking away from the woods, stepping into the world of men, knowing all the weight we carry individually and collectively. The way I feel in the woods is utterly connected. I think of Garth and how he is a different dog when we are out in the forest preserve. He is no longer worn and tired but refreshed and wild. The only cure if he is set off by a noise or uncertainty is to go outside. He will sit in the backyard for hours with his nose in the wind, inhaling the fresh air as if he had been suffocating before. This is exactly how I feel, quite often. To be completely honest, I think I would rather die than not be able to go outside, even on the most frigid or scorching days. Maybe it’s an exaggeration but that’s the level I’m at right now. I’ll admit the cooler air is much more filling than warmer air, but I would absolutely take either over indoors. Sometimes the trees, the sky, and the birds just make more sense.
In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry with some of the rest of the Order find themselves at the old house of Sirius Black. Harry is talking with Sirius about his family as the room they are in has a family tree on the wall. Sirius talks of running away when he was sixteen to Harry’s dad’s (James) house. Sirius tells Harry how much alike he and his dad are, but Harry says he isn’t so sure. Harry reveals his worry that maybe the reason for the connection between him and Voldemort is because he is becoming more like Voldemort. Harry confesses he feels so angry all the time and questions whether after everything he has been through, something has gone wrong inside of him.
“What if I am becoming bad?” Harry asks Sirius, desperately, fearful it is already true.
Sirius puts his hands on Harry’s shoulders and looks at him intently.
“You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person who bad things have happened to…do you understand? Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and death eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on, that’s who we really are.” Sirius lovingly and wisely reassures Harry.
A similar sentiment is expressed at the ending of the book/movie Beautiful Creatures. Without getting too much into the entire story, at the end, Ethan comes to say goodbye to Amma at the library. He is leaving to go on a college trip with his friend. Lena is at the library. He and Lena were in love, but Lena, who is a witch, wiped his memory of everything that happened between them after she claimed herself as both a good and evil witch, as both light and dark. She wiped his memory, essentially, to protect him from her. Now he just knows her as a girl from his classes at school, though there seems to still be an attraction for her when they interact at the library. A book is laying on the table she is sitting at, You Get So Alone at Times It Just Makes Sense by Charles Bukowski, one they had talked about early in their relationship. Ethan asks her if it is any good. Lena, repeating the initial conversation, responds, “define good.” He smiles softly, as if genuinely charmed and somewhat remembering. She tells him to keep it. Ethan thanks her and leaves.
After Ethan walks out of the door, Lena seems to physically gasp for air, choked by her love for him and their love that once was. Everything inside of her must feel shattered. How.
How can you possibly choose light after this? How do you endure love, which births the truest sort of pain there is?
How can Harry possibly choose light after all the bad he has been through? How does something not go wrong and cause him to become bad? How can he trust love is worth the risk of world-altering pain?
“There is a place in the heart that will never be filled, a space; we will know it more than ever. There is a place in the heart that will never be filled, and we will wait and wait in that space.” [Bukowski]
This is the line Ethan reads as his friend drives away from the library. Meanwhile, Lena is studying and experiencing both parts of herself, the light and the dark. The movie scene shows her with one eye gold and the other eye dark. Both natures wrestling for leverage.
How the magic of love brings the utmost brilliance to our lives and how its absence leaves a space in the heart that can never be filled. We wait in the space, somewhere deep inside of us knowing what should be there, what was there. We have a distant sense of it, so it keeps us waiting and hoping. We have a distant sense of being in Love. Before it became a choice, it was a communion. Love was who we were.
I have a gold and a dark eye too. The gold is who I am supposed to be, was made to be, as salt is supposed to be salty. The dark is tasteless, lifeless. A gold eye of love and a dark eye of pride. A gold eye of peace and a dark eye of anger. A gold eye of rest and a dark eye of toil. A gold eye of charity and a dark eye of covetousness. A gold eye of generosity and a dark eye of greed. A gold eye of humility and a dark eye of hypocrisy. A gold eye of faith and a dark eye of fear. A gold eye for hope and a dark eye of despair. A gold eye of gratitude and a dark eye of envy.
I get to choose to act on one or the other, yet my choice does not define good. The choice itself means that Love exists. The space in our hearts, that distance sense of something to wait for, means that Love exists. A Love so pure it decided I am enough to lose everything for without the guarantee I would even choose it. This Love defines good.