Haste

Photo: Nicolas Raymond, Flickr via Creative Commons

Photo: Nicolas Raymond, Flickr via Creative Commons

I’ve written a lot on this blog about ways I’ve loved, falling in lovebeing loved and over the past few years specifically the idea of loving with urgency. This last one comes from the impact of a line from Mumford and Sons:

“I will love with urgency but not with haste”

Over the past year and a half I’ve been exploring this idea of loving with urgency, trying to never miss an opportunity to connect with another person because of fear or insecurity or shame. My experimenting has led to some great encounters, some long-term friends, and some heartbreak. However, I’ve yet to broach the other half of this quote. I’ve had a vague, elusive understanding that loving with haste would be sloppy and unintentional. Actually knowing what it means or looks like, though, has been beyond me.

Tonight I feel like I’ve caught a glimpse. A very wise friend once explained to me that when he offers himself to someone in love, he is giving them the opportunity to reject the offer. To hand the offering back to him. But he’s somehow learned how to offer himself without offering the core of himself, so if the person chooses to reject his offer it doesn’t rob him of any value or element of his self. I’ve not understood how to separate those things out, but I’ve tried to learn.

The picture in my head when I think about this whole thing is of handing someone a silver platter with a golden heart atop. If that offering is rejected, the person hands the platter and its contents back to me. Maybe this isn’t accurate, though. Maybe this offering of self is less like an object being passed back and forth and more like an extended hand at the top of a new road. If the person chooses to not accept the offering it will look like an empty hand and an untraveled path. Which can be lonely, but isn’t the same as having your heart callously handed back to you.

Maybe loving with haste means grabbing the person’s hand and tearing down the road, not acknowledging that you are dragging them behind. Maybe it’s plowing down the path ignoring warning signs and pits that clearly communicate that this isn’t a safe path to take. Maybe it’s slamming into the “Dead End” sign over and over, not being able to accept that for whatever reason this road has fulfilled its purpose.

I’ve thought that loving with urgency meant to take every opportunity to connect. And I still think that’s true. But connecting requires desire on both parts, and it’s not unloving to accept another’s lack of desire to do so. For the first time since starting this experiment, I find myself mourning the loss of potential connection. It’s the first real bump in the road, to be honest, so it was bound to happen. I’ve extended my hand to a person who remains unsure, a person who haltingly takes a few steps and then retreats. I don’t get to know the reason for the back and forth of hesitation and movement forward. I’m facing the need to put into practice that philosophy of allowing another to pass the unaccepted offering back to me as I stand empty handed with extended arm aching, looking down an unfamiliar road that will remain forever foreign. I am in a position to choose to lower my arm and leave a friend alone at the start of our road, acknowledging this person’s indecision as a warning sign against traveling together while not dismissing their seemingly genuine desire to move together toward connection.

As a person who attaches easily, feels deeply, and loves completely, this may be the most difficult phase of the experiment of learning to love with urgency but not haste. I’ve loved hastily, I think, and in the haste my legs have become entangled in the weeds creeping across the road. But this has been a good and necessary phase in the process. As I grieve an almost connection that wasn’t, a road untraveled, I can also celebrate the fact that this won’t scare me away from extending a hand at the top of a different road to a different companion. Because the connection is worth the risk. Because you are worth the risk.

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