Love Songs I Write To Myself

The Tunnel

“Getting to know someone is like standing at the entrance to a dark tunnel and walking in,” she says. “Pitch black, no maps, no safety net. You step in at your own risk, heart beat at your throat, unknown dangers lying ahead. At first it is just curiosity, with one foot placed cautiously beside the next. A whole new world unexplored, and a primitive hunger to know dangling before you like bait on a string. Pushing past curtains of thin misgivings, warning signs bouncing off of skin still thick from the belief that you are in control. After all, you know yourself. Feeling around in the dark, you’re convinced you can find the way back out again.”

 “So what happens next?” he asks. “How do you escape your predicament?”

 She looks at him askance, one slow glance digesting all of him. “Communication, my friend, is the secret weapon. With words you hold light which penetrates through darkness. No matter how thick be the tunnel walls closing in, just one drop of honesty dabbed on the wrist can push back against old grudges, hurt feelings, heck, even heal the stubborn flesh wounds unwittingly inflicted.” 

She leans in closer, smiles conspiratorially. “You could say communication is the miracle we’ve all been waiting for - the Million Dollar Cure, or the Second Coming, or it finally clicking that we are in charge of saving ourselves - it’s the Universe’s greatest joke, I think, to put the answer inside our own palms only to close our fingers around it.” She leans back, repositioning herself to where she’d been sitting before. “I guess it’s fitting karma for the hubris we extol, when humanity grabs a seat on the throne, high atop the whole world’s pecking order. Yet inside each so called ‘king’ a stronger force rules, one that tells us we are unfit to wear the skin that we’re in, or unworthy even for the air that we breathe.” 

She pauses, slight shrug of her shoulders. “You could say it’s the through line of Man. The duality existing in every one of us. That no matter if you’re rich or poor, confine to society’s rules or bend against them, we all bend, similarly craven, at the knee, to the dictator in our head decreeing that we aren’t good enough.  It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the thing that should connect us divides us instead.”

He looks at her thoughtfully, eyes trying to read her expression. “I agree that we’ve all known imposter’s syndrome at one time or another. Wouldn’t a shared experience create more harmony amongst us, not less?” 

She nods. “Harmony comes from a place of love. Self-loathing is the graveyard where love goes to die. You can’t love someone, or find sympathy for another, when you can’t see the light in yourself. Have you ever seen a cornered animal?” 

“Of  course. My dog once ran a raccoon into our garage. When it realized it was stuck, it was like something in it transformed. I’ve never seen anything so vicious come out of something that small.”

“When we fall prey to our insecurities, we become that raccoon, backed up against a wall by our own dog.” There is a pause while she searches in head for the right words to convey her feelings. “When we are venturing through the tunnel of another person’s mind, we feel our way by the gifts that they give us. Each shared thought, every honest conversation acts like a trusty map in hand, a signpost along the road, a lantern illuminating the path. You may not know where you’re going but you know you are being guided there. You have nothing to fear so you can keep walking no matter how far, no matter how treacherous the way may be onwards. 
“ But unfortunately, my dear fellow traveller, to have a light is not guaranteed. Your guide is not always a reliable one. It falters, it fades, it disappears on a whim sometimes for days. And you have no control in calling it back. When it lies and leads you astray, spins tales until you are dizzy with the unknowing, what can you do but wait, and pray, that it comes back to its senses? 
“ But that’s not what you are going to do, is it? When an animal feels trapped, suffocating in pitch black, all it can think about is a counter-attack. Watch how quickly love disintegrates in the dark, when what once was two partners, lose sight of one another, turn to claws and fangs, no space for even one moment, to let the other one in.” 

“But I would never do that!” he cries out, raising his voice. “I’ll be there for you; I’ll light your way.” 

Tilting her head away from the sudden jump in volume, she keeps her face looking straight ahead. “That’s not for you to say,” she says. “There’s a risk, there’s always a risk. You take it the moment you forsake the safety of the light outside and step foot inside the dark, damp floor.” He makes a move like to interject, but she waves him off. “Even when you feel the presence of someone else there you have to remember, no matter how much you might want to forget, that you are still alone. Because if one day you do find yourself suddenly out there, alone in the pitch black, remembering your aloneness will be what stays your hand from attacking back. You don’t have to fault the light for leaving you because you didn’t need it all along. In that moment you may recognize the light that exists in yourself.”

“I don’t understand,” he says, the dejection barely hidden in his voice, “Are you saying you don’t believe you could ever be with someone? Or that love doesn’t exist?” 

She looks at him, a simple smile playing at the corners of her lips. “No, darling, I do believe in love. I’ve walked through the tunnel before, many times. I’ve had the light turned off, the floor pulled out from under my feet. And yet I would still walk inside, again and again, willingly. But only because I no longer look for my guide from a light inside the tunnel. Now I need only to look in myself.” Her two lips part like she’s just heard the greatest joke, and her eyes seek his inviting him into the laughter. “I am my own guide now. This is the love I know I can depend on.” 



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