There’s this narrative in our society that what we seek on the surface matters more than what goes unseen and unspoken. It suggests that chasing joy brings us the most fruitful lives, and it’s not that I disagree, but rather that I choose to live inside the bones of a body that wants to see it all: the peaks and valleys of life; the juiciness of marrow inside the bone that can only be attained if we gaze into death itself, as the means of life. How beautiful is it that our bodies are nourished most, given life by the exchange of nutrients from another? We create energy from death, like mushrooms on a log we fruit from the very labor of decomposition itself.
Nature reflects back to us that only time and pressure compacts the Earth into layers of rock, the very layers that become the mountains we gaze upon with admiration and awe. The bones of those mountains have seen lifetimes of births and deaths, they’ve been carved by rivers and roads, and moved by glaciers and tectonic plates so deep we can barely conceptualize them. These are forces more powerful than we can claim ourselves to be in our fragile human bodies.
As much as I want my life to be a mountain that others gaze out at as a pillar of hope, I want them to remember too the pressure, the shifts, the winds, the external elements, the perfect storms, the nourishment that goes into a building of this mountain. It has required willingly being stripped away to the bone so that I can be truly seen and admired for all of the pieces that have held me up.
The truth is that it’s not about what anyone sees from the outside, because when we look deeper it’s the spaces in between that matter, the ones that can only be seen from the inside out. The devotion to carving paths with the winding ways of Mother Nature, the cycles we make and break, the ones that don’t serve us and the ones that do.
I believe that we can think we’re choosing the easy path, but if we do we will miss all the nooks and crannies of awareness along the way. Yes, we can fool ourselves into thinking that “choosing love” is an easier path, but in reality it is a commitment that we must work at every day. There are so many confrontations we make along the way to understanding what real deep commitment is. It requires that we must reflect on each other’s deepest darkest edges and corners, peeling back the layers of our souls until we uncover the bones of who we are.
I didn’t choose a conscious marriage because I thought it would be easy, I chose it so that we could camp in bear territory, and wail in the woods until our throats are sore. So that we can hike until the soles of our boots wear off, and find farm stands with bricks of butter that we smother on everything we eat. So that we can sit amongst treetops, and glide about in hammocks overlooking cold creeks while we bear the parts of our souls that we are most afraid of, and eat steak off of the bone. So that in the quiet and cold of the night we can nuzzle into the curvature of each other’s bones to find the sustenance we’ve been holding back from ourselves and each other. So that in those quiet moments we remember why we still return to the shape of each other’s sleeping bodies side by side each night.
In this spiritual work, we often talk about love like it is an empty shell. Something that is just a simple choice to attain, a mindset shift, an act of chasing joy. Instead, I have found is that love is a deep and intentional choice, a mirror that reflects back all of our deepest inner workings, it is the marrow inside of the bone, the one that brings us the greatest nourishment if we learn to work for it, but that only bears that fruit if we are conscious enough to see how closely love sits to grief, and to want to, despite that, reach for it everyday.
And that depth is exactly what makes it so damn beautiful.