Why does someone seem lovely to us? What makes them lovely in our eyes? To some extent it is because of characteristics that they manifest, to some extent it is their physical beauty, but to what extent do they seem lovely to us simply because we love them? How is it that being enamored of them transforms all of their characteristics into “enchanting”? And after having had major bad experiences with them, how is it that they become so unlovely to us that we can’t stand either the sight of them or to hear their voice? And why, even when we have tried and tried to find nourishment in the relationship, but with our heart still starving, is the thought of leaving them so terrifying? Why do we begin to tell lies to ourselves so that we can remain in an unhappy but comfortable place? How can the possibility of a life without them seem like both a relief as well as a terror?
The Unknown. On the one hand the idea of the unknown kind of excites us with all of its possibilities, all of which we postulate as being wonderful; and yet, when we get serious about embracing the unknown… its possibilities begin to terrify us into immobility.
Consider the young albatross chick. He has only known land and that food comes TO him via his parents. And then one day the parents fly away! The chick’s hunger grows and grows. Inexplicably… to him… he feels the desire to stretch his gigantic wings and when he does he feels the wind underneath them and he almost feels like he could fly. He can see the waters beyond, from which his parents always returned with food. As his hunger grows the call of the possible food in the sea grows louder and more urgent. He stands at the edge of the cliff and extends his wings, feels the wind fill them with the possibility of flight. His dilemma is that he has never flown yet and therefore is not certain that he can! As each day without food passes he is held captive to the land and tugged towards the sea. Each day he stands at the edge of the cliff and confronts the terrifying emptiness of not knowing if he can fly. At the edge of the cliff one day, driven desperate by his hunger, he spreads his wings, feels the wind fill them, lifting him; he steps off, and discovers that he is flying!
No one can teach us how to fly. Until the moment when we do it we will be terrified, but it is one of those things that we have to learn by the doing of it. A relationship can sometimes reach the edge of the cliff; at such a moment the issue becomes: stay and starve, or fly and feed.