I find myself asking the same question that a confused reader wrote ‘Dear Sugar.’ ‘Dear Sugar,’ backed by the devotion of Cheryl Strayed, anonymously bares her heart and soul— vulnerably and authentically— to answer inquiries on life, love, loss, and whatever topic the submitted email asks to discuss. With grace and wisdom, ‘Dear Sugar’ handles the most difficult topics and even gives space to the confusions that most would discard. ‘WTF,’ ‘WTF’ ‘WTF!?!’ said one letter. Although I am not using the exact abbreviation mentioned above, my uncertainty and current hurts are centered on the same simple, yet complicated, frustration. “What happened with that friendship? Why is it over?” “I really thought he liked me and this would be something!” ‘WTF is love and dating in 2018?” “Why must cancer, injustice, and Trump be such an idiot sometimes (…or all the time)?” What. The. Fuck.
How does one really answer the hardest questions in the world? The questions that surround our much-needed desires to feel loved, accepted and belong. I don’t have these answers. I don’t know what love is and why we lose so much that we do love at times. I search blogs and stories and advice columns for someone that knows the secrets that I don’t. I look internally. I go kitesurfing. I write. I pray. I read. And, I wonder. With kindness and honesty, ‘Dear Sugar’ responds with more light than many of us may know in a lifetime, ultimately directing the pained inquirer—ultimately directing me— to, “Ask better questions, Sweet Pea.”
What is love?
I woke up the other morning with one thought glaring in my head. “10 miles. Love built a fucking airline. What is 10 miles?!” If you have ever heard the story of how Virgin Airlines began, you know what I’m talking about. Richard Branson did not build his aviation brand due to the connection between the music business and the aviation industry, but simply could not get from one island to another, after a flight canceled, and was determined to be with the woman that he loved— that day! Sir Richard made a call, chartered a jet, sold $39 one-way fares, and thus, a global empire began. Although there is only one man in the entire world that will ever be Branson, I do believe that if someone tells me, “We don’t live around the corner from each other,” and the corner is literally ONLY 10 miles, I should stop asking, “WTF?!” and start saying, “Thanks for being honest, and that’s cool. I’m looking for the person who has the potential to care enough to build a fucking airline.” Not everyone will love you, but the one who does should be (and will be) willing to drop the obstacles and ditch the excuses. Because, men in this world have built fucking airlines and done pretty crazy shit to get past oceans, mountains, and miles for the people that they love.
I kind of like the concept and want to live by the belief that love does sacrifice and create and concoct dreams that are almost unimaginable and absolutely miraculous. Love, in all its realness, demands action. When it’s love, the action isn’t a hassle, but natural. Branson has left no question in anyone’s mind about what he cares about and what matters. Still, to this day, he exhibits a strong devotion to the people who work for him and a dedicated attention to family. What if he had just said or lived in the vein, “I’ll just do that tomorrow,” or “I’ll let someone else change the world.” We would all be lacking an incredible example of what it means to be human and certain resources that help us live our own lives better. I told my friend Alana the other day, “I am so grateful to the people who choose to create and give and risk, because if they didn’t do their thing, this world would be missing so much goodness.” This is why you MUST create. You MUST do your thing. You MUST build your dream because you are building a better world. Our foundation for inspiring and impacting the world will often stem out of where our love lies and the struggles that we face. Next time you fly on Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, or Virgin America, remember that.
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What to love?
I became a flight attendant, not because I loved it, but because I couldn’t find any other industry that wanted to hire me. It became what I didn’t know I could love. It opened my world to ‘falling in love’ all over the world and introduced me to heartbreaks and healing moments. It gave me this blog and challenged me into growth. I’ve learned about myself. I’ve learned about loving people who are not good for me. I’ve learned about loving those who are great. I’ve learned about letting go of things and people that I love. I’ve learned about seasons and chapters and challenges. I think I’m currently learning that love means priorities and intention and that to find that in someone else, I need to love me first.
I spent a year casually dating someone who I said that I loved and he kind of said he loved me, but there was never the intention to really love each other. There was never the determined decision that he would make time for me or make us work. So, I allowed this style to permeate my existence because it kind of felt like enough. It kind of felt like I was valuable; at least in moments. Sometimes we can talk ourselves into what we think love looks like, based on what we see around us in the world. The commonality of love parading as ‘we are just talking,’ ‘Intimacy before commitment,’ and ‘There’s always another person available’ mentality has caused incredible anxiety for me— a somewhat secure and successful woman. I’m sure both men and women also feel this anxiety. Why do we do this to ourselves?! “But, this is how love works in this era,’ we say. “This is how people do this ‘love-thing,’ right?” I justify and question and dismiss how unsettled what, and how, I am choosing to love makes me feel about myself. I feel less then. I feel unwanted. I feel not enough. ‘There has to be more than this,’ I secretly pray to the Universe. ‘There must be something real. There must be a better way.”
Love In Action
I’ve sacrificed a lot to make my private jet dreams come true and devotedly work on my blog. I’ve even said, “You have to want to fly as much as you want to breathe.” Somewhere within me, I hold to the belief that if I make my career such a priority, I can assume that, at the very least, when someone does love me and want me, it’s not too much to ask them to be intentional and prioritize a relationship with me…a little. I mean, love did build an airline. The 10 miles I referenced early…that’s fine. He’s fine. I get it. Not in the space that I am and he doesn’t have to even like me, but I desperately want to be different and choose differently than I have in the past. Giving 10 miles when someone will not even take action to give me one mile— I just can’t let myself do that to myself anymore.
Does it exist— a giving type of love? I wish I could turn this around and say, ‘Yes. Absolutely. Love has to exist like that, and it does,” but to be honest, I don’t know. I’ve seen love build an airline. I’ve seen the incredible love between my parents. I’ve seen other people in love. Somewhere I believe, somewhere, that God loves me. He at least kept me alive when I didn’t want to be at one point. I have witnessed love in action in certain ways, but it feels so distance in my direct and most recent experience. So, to feel and to hold love— within the current culture, fears, insecurities, and inconsistencies of the dating world— I don’t know. I don’t know how to do that and believe in a love like that.
Instead of wondering ‘WTF?!?!’ is going on with love and why someone isn’t building me “my airline,” I’m organizing a different approach, or at least attempting. Your mind is so powerful and you have to find the discipline to change your thoughts when they aren’t improving the way you live. I have been doing things that are really kind for myself. I have a difficult time giving myself space and kindness and compassion, so it’s important that I work at this. There is an internal pressure that I deal with to always feel bubbly, grateful, and happy because I really have a fucking amazing life. Some days though, even with all the gratitude and acknowledgment of my wonderful existence, I just feel so human. I just get so sad and lonely. To that fight, I have focused on the little moments. I have been watching the way flowers brighten up my day or how the wind feels on my face. I take a break from writing work and my unhealthy thoughts to take my new pink surfboard out on the water. I feel the sense of being completely alive when I slip off the board into the chilly Pacific blue. It doesn’t feel like work. It also isn’t always easy trying to surf and kite; especially when it broke me once. But maybe this is a perfect example of love. A love that feels so intentional, simple, and freeing. Maybe how kiting feels is how love can feel.
And sometimes you slip.
Sometimes it’s not the right conditions.
Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you want,
but you learn.
What ‘airline do you need to build’ with the love and challenges that you currently face? I may question love in my own life, but I will never question that love does change the world. I think somewhere deep within me, I sense that it will (and is) always changing my world; even when I can’t feel or see it or believe it right now.