"Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
Alfred Lord Tennyson
I used to joke and say I'd rather play it safe and avoid the possibility of being hurt. It wasn't all a joke. I was, deep inside, always a little wary, and sometimes, loved with reservation. But when my son died in 2011, I knew my deep love for him was worth far more than avoiding the pain of my heartache over him being gone. That's one of the reasons I say I learned so much about love from loving him. The loss of my son and a few other things in my life from the last few years have opened my heart in a way that it has never been opened before. The wariness has diminished greatly.
In the comments on the "My Prayer" post, Rach said, "I love how this is all about risking to open your self up but at the same time being cautious. That feels true to me." There is something in her words for me. We live in a world where people are going to hurt us, disappoint us, occasionally totally betray us. I think I lean towards being Pollyanna-ish at times, but beneath that is always the awareness of the possibility of being hurt. That's why I need those warnings in my prayer, or my creed, or my manifesto, to remind me that there is no magical way to avoid being hurt. It's going to happen. But that doesn't mean I need to live closed off and afraid of being hurt.
Love, trust, faith, openness, allowing one's self to be seen--they are always going to be risky propositions. But if we can approach these choices thoughtfully with our eyes and heart wide open, the risks are so well worth it. Just don't go at it blind. Know that you are taking a risk. Know that you might get hurt. Perhaps that awareness will keep bitterness at bay. But also know that your risk might lead to a very satisfying and life-giving relationship.
Maybe what I'm trying to say is that I have had a shift in my thinking. Maybe, in spite of what I've written here about risk and pain, I'm come to a place where I am less focused on avoiding pain and more focused on taking the risk of loving and being open? I don't know. What I know is that I am grateful for the teachers and healers in my life who have helped proved to me that, many times, the risk towards love is well worth taking.