In Love or Love In?

Where did the phrase “in love” come from? What does it really mean to “be in love”? I do not know how long the phrase has been around. But it eludes me. I’m not satisfied with how it is phrased and I suppose that could have something to do with what it has come to mean in my world: American, middle-class society.

If I really think back to when I first heard and learned the phrase, I could honestly say that it was since I was a baby. I don’t remember it specifically, however I know the phrase to have already been so common at that time, in the early 80’s. We most commonly hear it as “falling in love”. An action, describing something happening to a person and giving the image that it lands a person in a certain place and that place is love. And then there’s the variation of “being in love”. This gives the impression of a state of mind, once again another place that a person is in. What does that tell me though of how it is supposed to feel? What are the emotions associated with it and is it an emotion? Or could it be a place – a state of mind? Is it a combination of both?

What if we turned those phrases around? What if instead, we went around saying that we were “love in falling”? Or that I was “love in being”? Does it suggest more control on the part of the one in love? Or could it reveal that love exist completely aside from our actions and place? Could it imply that we can always have love, in all that we are and all that we are doing? Could it be that love is always with us? Or are there times in our lives when love is not there?

I googled some of these questions and I have to confess, that the results are too overwhelming for me to list them here or get in over my head beyond the curious thoughts I already entertain. Throughout the world love is associated with emotion and passion, good virtue and compassion, sex and affection, commitment and relationships, choice and the inevitable.

But I have no answers, only questions still. I think I will never stop wondering about what it means to “be in love” or “fall in love”. It must be and look different for each person and yet have a foundation and key elements that are beyond us and un-explainable. I hope it is un-explainable and not confined to my limited understanding. Yet, what could that one foundation be that proves love to be love?

And as scary as it is to put into writing, I will claim that so far it is looking a lot different from what I had thought and expected. This is what makes me want to re-phrase such a universal concept in my mind. Why not “love in being”? Why not “love in falling”? Why not “love in…”?

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Skitrip Familia – The Time It Takes…

My study of the American Family on a ski trip continues into day four. To understand the findings, I’ll give a run down of the factors involved. The focus of the study is my own family from my dad’s side: Mark, my father who is in his late 50’s, Brenda, my step-mother, Mark Jr., my 24-year-old brother (the middle-child), Brendan my 16-year-old brother, and then Tyler and Amanda, my step-brother and step-sister who are each in their mid 20’s. Yep….that’s a lot of people. Seven of us total and typically there would be eight but my step-brother Justin is in law school in New England and could not make the trip. photo.JPG

Our adventure started this past Friday night, December 9th. It was also my brother Mark’s birthday and he turned 24, so it was a great time to be together with family and celebrate. Since the family is of a larger size, the vehicle of choice to rent was a large suburban that fits eight and all their gear. Since I’m local and live in Denver, I packed my own mini cooper full with my brother Mark and was able to contribute more space on wheels to the family trip.

After a night in downtown Denver, we arrived in Breckenridge the next day and it seemed apparent that our particular family was going to do pretty well getting along. I attribute this to the fact that we’re each pretty easy-going. We like to be active, while at the same time we enjoy our rest and relaxation. There’s an all-around appreciation for the beauty of the mountains, the snow, and learning to ski. You see, aside from my brother Mark and me, the others have not skied in about six years. A full day of lessons was set up the first day for my dad and my step-brother and sister. Brendan picked up snowboarding again pretty quick. He’s the one in the family that picks up any sport quickly. Tyler and Mark have already hit a tree, Amanda has laughed on some nice spills that she gracefully turned into butt slides down the slope, and my dad and step-mom have done their 180’s that are certainly by accident and leave them facing the wrong direction on the slope while on their hands and knees.

photo.JPGAt this moment, I’m enjoying the mountain view from the overstuffed chair by the fireplace after our snow-shoe trek we went on today. Beside me is my spiked eggnog martini…my own version of apre snowshoe. Dad is snacking in the chair beside me and enjoying the view of the mountains as alpin glow fades with the setting sun.

Up to today, the quirk I’m noticing in our family ski trip has to do with time: everything seems to take longer than anticipated and you end up waiting for someone at each activity. This can certainly result in impatience and irritation on a variety of levels: someone taking more pictures, taking a detour into another store, taking too long in the grocery store, and my personal favorite from today, taking gear back to the vehicle a second time when you’re just 1 minute into the trail and still have to put your snowshoes on. Consider as well the elements that skiing brings into the picture. Cold weather, risk of bodily harm, coordinating meeting for lunch and meeting to ski runs together, getting on lifts together, getting all your gear on in the morning…I’m sure you have plenty of things coming to your mind if you’ve ever been skiing or on a family ski trip. photo.JPG

What it comes down to, is that we can each laugh about these time and people related incidents and I have to say, that our trip is full of laughter. It is probably what keeps us from letting the little things get to us. Cause when you have 7 people living together, family or not, you’re going to have plenty of opportunity to be irritated. But this trip reminds me that life is too short to let the little things get to you and it’s worth the effort to laugh and let things go so you can appreciate the people with you in the moment.

Skitrip Familia – A Study of the American Family on a Ski Trip

Skiing. It is one of the world’s most popular winter sports. For some, it involves beautiful scenery, exhilarating speed, skill and talent. For others, it represents uncomfortable cold, steep terrain, and risk of bodily harm.

Family. One of the world’s most important relationships. For some, it involves encouraging love, inspiring fun, and a life guiding foundation. For others, it represents hurt, embarrassment, and haunting dis-functionality.

So what do you have when you combine the two? What takes place when you attempt to do one with the other?

This week, I am joining my family on a week-long ski vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado. For an entire seven days we are living together again. This time in a ski-in/ski-out town home. I am extremely grateful and excited for this time with my loved ones. As you can see from that one line, I am one of the people who sees the first description of family. And now that I have invested a few years into learning how to ski, I can say the same about skiing – I am of the first opinion previously noted. Before you get ahead of me though, realize that there are elements of the second opinions of both skiing and family that do exist in my life. Maybe this means that it has a lot to do with perspective: does a person focus on the negative in things or on the positive? And of course the other elements and factors need to be taken into consideration and they do play a powerful role.

Over this next week, I am going to write about what I observe in my own family while we are on our family ski trip. While my writings will be influenced by my own personality traits (which tend to be on the positive and optimistic side), I will do my best to observe and note what occurs when you combine skiing with family. As you follow along, feel free to share about your experiences with skiing and your family. And as much as being objective is valued, let’s make a point to have our biases and perspectives recognized and fully used. If you’re optimistic and idealistic, then read this and then respond with that perspective. If you’re realistic and pessimistic, then read and share through that lens.

Less Can Really Be More

I just moved this weekend. If you have known me for more than the past year, you have come to learn that I move pretty frequently…about an average of once per year or every two years. It’s one of the characteristics of the kind of person I am and something that I have come to appreciate about myself: I like change.

This move though was special. For this move, I actually packed things in an organized fashion and I eliminated stuff! At first I was overwhelmed by the thought of parting with things. Once I started however, I found myself overwhelmed by having so much stuff and it motivated me to get rid of more and more. It felt great. And as more time passes, it feels freeing.

Now, many people would say that I did not have much stuff to begin with. And I would agree. About this time last year, circumstances in life afforded me the opportunity (don’t you love that play on words?) to have no kitchen furniture, no living room furniture, and very limited bedroom furniture. Actually, I did not even have my own bed and now I’m back to not owning my own bed. I consider this to be very beneficial because it is a relief when I move that I do not have to rent a moving truck and hire movers. At the same time, I don’t hesitate to ask friends for help in exchange for food and good company.

You see, I had come to recognize this feeling of being held down, confined by the stuff I had accumulated. There’s nothing wrong with the stuff in and of itself. At a different time in my life I will gain more stuff again. However, during this season, I have simply identified new priorities in my life – priorities that I think will enable me to better reach my goals. With this more recent move, I was elated to find that I could set up a cozy and comfortably organized bedroom in less than an hour. Items and clothing are immediately and easily accessible, while still being protected for long keeping. It’s amazing how efficient plastic drawers can be.

Overall, my life is now contained to around 20 bins. I see it as traveling light so I can live a full life. What kind of stuff do you have in your life and how many bins would it take to hold? Have any recommendations and ideas to share from your own elimination organization? Feel free to share your secrets. I will treasure them.