I heard “Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong” today on Spotify. Not shocking, as it’s on a few of my playlists, especially after the death of Joe Cocker earlier this year.
I didn’t expect the inspiration I got from myself when I heard it today, but here goes. “Who knows what tomorrow brings, in a world where few hearts survive?” The first words of the song are so sobering, sung beautifully by Jennifer Warnes. That’s followed by Joe’s plaintive plea for love, regardless of the encumbrances it puts on you. “All I know is the way I feel – when it’s real, I keep hope alive.”
The differences between those lines kill me – “I’m afraid, I don’t want to do this,” she says. He says, “I love you. Let’s do this. I mean it, we can make it work.”
It’s a love story in two sentences. And it’s full of imagery, fear, courage and potential. Those two lines, followed by the next, pretty much embody the push-pull I’ve lived the last 20 years. “The road is long. There are mountains in our way. But we climb a step every day – love lift us up where we belong.”
Love lifted me up – many, many times in my life. Not the traditional boy-meets-girl love that is written about in this song (and no, Richard Gere has not carried me anywhere) but the love of life, a higher power, joy and beauty – the love of people. The love of planet. The love of LIFE.
Something has happened to me in the last several years. I had a very, very dark time in the years after my mom’s death. That was followed by a lot of poor decisions, a lot of heartbreak and the loss of friendships. I was sunk. Literally and figuratively – my heart hurt, I began to hate things, I gossiped, I put on weight, I lost my compass. I drank too much. I ate too much. I reveled in false friendships.
My faith, which had been blossoming on the back shelf lo those many years, shot to the surface like a submerged life raft. And I’m not going to tell you that I’m right or wrong about faith. Think what you want about religion and God, etc., but for me, faith was a life raft. For me, faith gave me hope – hope that led to joy.
Now, you can say that faith is a life raft that everyone boards in times of trouble, only to abandon when life gets better, a manufactured joy that helps you get out of tough times. You can say it’s a normal human reaction – that’s your opinion. Once I felt that faith, and the subsequent joy that followed, I never wanted to lose that feeling. I still curse (sometimes like a sailor) and I don’t live by all the Bible’s teachings, and I don’t believe everything that traditional churches teach. But I love LOVE, I love faith, and I love service. Faith pushed me out of my doldrums. Faith became love of self. Faith became love of all people.
What followed was a surprisingly quick transformation into what I feel like I was supposed to be all along – an optimistic, nerdy, self-aware, happy girl who feels successful yet still ambitious, grown-up but childlike, and hopeful. Financial security has helped – but hasn’t changed everything. I found that being grateful for financial security also has made me want to preserve it!
I told a story to my brother yesterday about a moment that a higher power intervened in my life. I had been going through that aforementioned rough patch, and was finally ending a relationship that had run its course many years before. Lazily, and selfishly, I’d let it linger. But the FINAL day – the “you pick up your stuff and I’ll pick up mine” day, I drove away with my stuff, crying and wondering WHY ME. The song “Dear Prudence” was on the CD in my car as I drove past the QT on 11th Street, on my way downtown to the Tulsa World. Tears were flowing with sadness. Then, at a stoplight, and at the precise second John sang, “The clouds will be a daisy chain, so let me see you smile again” I looked up and saw a – I’m not making this up – circle of linked clouds. The sad tears began to turn into happy, thankful tears. I think that was my first moment of clarity, the moment when I grew up a whole lot.
I drove to work. And I let that relationship end. We’re friends now, and I believe we always will be. But that part had to end. I had to see the circle in the sky and move on.
This is a long and rambling way to say that I count my blessings a ton, and I’m happier for it. I feel like I’ve won the lottery every time I’m able to move through a tough situation with relative ease. The loss of a parent at a young age can change everything in you – I believe it tore me down, and then something – probably being guided by my mom – put me together again. Something said, “You’re better than this.”
And I was. I am. And I can’t help but be happy about that.
It’s very refreshing to find beauty in everything and everyone. It’s truly a wonderful thing to at the face of a stranger and think, first, “What a beautiful face” rather than “They have this or this wrong with them.” I thank a higher power, along with some pretty wonderful influences from Trinity Episcopal in Tulsa, the Tulsa World and my circle of friends in Oklahoma and the East Coast for that joy. I also thank myself. I’m not going to lie and say I’m like this all the time, but the prevailing thought process is one filled with a lot more open-minded thoughts than closed. And when the closed ones come up, I’m better equipped now to push them away. I’m better at saying I’m wrong. I’m better at swallowing my pride.
I don’t have everything I want out of life — not even close. But I don’t care anymore. If it comes (true love, world travel, my house in the country with three telescopes) I’m ready. Way more ready than before I heard “Dear Prudence” that day.
I’m sorry for the happy-crappy optimism, but I feel like I’ve kept it under a bushel and now it’s time to share it. I just feel so grateful – today and tomorrow – for being given life. Now the only thing I can ask for is a national title by ANY of the teams I follow. Is that so much to ask? :)