• Michael Lentz

Each prayer accepted, and each will resigned

I’m sitting at the dining room table on chairs that I just assembled in my first apartment. I’ve been living alone for a week and a half.

I wanted to take this moment during this time to take stock of where I am and this moment in life. Some things haven’t changed. I still think about being in love. [1] I still love the same kinds of people and by the same kinds of people, I mean the wrong kinds of people, and by the wrong kinds of people, I don’t mean that they’re wrong, but I mean they don’t love me, and that’s been the pattern my whole life. I don’t really think I’ve ever felt mutual affection. Even in the friendships in which I feel most comfortable, I always have this sense that I love them more than they love me. There was one time I thought I had something with someone, but that proved to be more of a spell that lost all of its enchantment the moment that I told her that I had never “liked anyone who liked me back.”

Maybe I’m articulating love this way right now because the film class at my school just watched Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. Every time I watch that film it changes me. Every time I think about that film I think about love differently. Every time I think about love differently, I want to try love again — to apply my new understanding to a new relationship with a new person. That film says: “you’re attracted who you’re attracted to” [not in so many words, but] no matter how many times you erase them completely from your memory and start over with them completely new as strangers, you’ll find them as a new person and you really always love them and they really always love you, even if your hair is a different color, or whatever the change ends up being.

I was sitting in my office last week thinking about that idea and it actually overwhelmed me to the point that I needed to take a break from everything I was doing and everything I had to do. I closed my eyes and I fell asleep for no more than 3 minutes, but somehow when your body [or at least, when my body] knows that sleep is coming, it prepares the imaginative part of your brain to accept the dream so you might have part of the dream in consciousness, and that’s what happened to me. I was in a restaurant across the booth from a woman who I had decided that I wasn’t in love with anymore [in the dream] and I was trying to explain to her [in the dream] that I didn’t believe in love-at-first-sight [in the dream] and as I said that, she crumbled. And before I was fully lost to the dream, she said “can it still be an option?” And then my head jolted forward and I caught myself and I said out-loud “they are parts of me that believe in things that contradict other parts of me” and I think we’re always consoling our unbeliefs with our beliefs.

I’m getting ready for May. May, for the last 8 or so years (since I’ve been keeping track) has been my worst month of the year. And by keeping track I mean my Dad left in May 2010 and ever since that happened, every May after that has been terrible. Usually it’s compounded by the contradiction of Spring happening all around and flowers coming back and you can finally wear short-sleeves and not have to worry about a jacket or the cold. That’s good, but it’s also hard because even as all of that joy is happening and life is happening, I’m still feeling like I did in the winter [like I feel all the time]: trying to smile, trying to spend as much time in the sun to counteract any and all sadness. And I try to spend time in the sun because the sun is supposed to make things bloom. It gives light, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. Some days, when I can remember, I take vitamin D supplements to contribute to the sun’s power. These supplements are Super Vitamin D supplements. I found them online and they’re more powerful than the ones you can buy at the store. I take two capsules because two capsules is the serving size. Two capsules together are supposed to give you 695% of the recommended daily value of vitamin D. That means there’s no excuse for why [if it’s really sunlight that gives you life] I shouldn’t have the most life that I could possibly have because I’ve supplemented myself with almost seven times as much life as the FDA recommends. But you and I both know it’s not that easy.

An informed person might tell me that this has something to do with internal unhappiness or discontent, but I can’t help thinking [and knowing] that it has to do with the fact that I still can’t get my mind off the people I’m not supposed to have my mind on. And I’m the kind of person who believes that if they were the right person, you would be able to say, “hey, I’ve had you on my mind are you doing ok?” or “hey, I’ve had you on my mind, let’s talk, let’s catch up.” If they’re the wrong person, you can’t just say that. You have to keep your concern inside.

May is impending. The flowers have started to bloom. Lately I feel like I’m one of those flowers that blooms in stages with a few buds opening, but not the whole plant. I will be whole eventually. All the buds that are meant to open and bloom and they will [with enough sunlight and enough attention]. Other buds won’t get the chance. Those opportunities and avenues for beauty and joy will be closed forever, never realized.

What I’m trying to learn, what I’m starting to learn, what I want to remember is that: flowers are beautiful. That’s a truth universally-acknowledged. If you asked anyone if flowers are beautiful, they will say yes. Before you ask someone to consider a particular flower, before you ask someone to consider a particular flower’s particular stems, before you consider that flower compared to other flowers of the same type. Flowers are beautiful and that inherent beauty is what inspires people to keep growing flowers. It’s what inspires people to buy seeds and plant them. It’s what inspires people to water the ground, even before the buds are open. I need to remember that I am beautiful. That I have a beauty inside me that is part of my identity, regardless of which parts of me are blooming or which parts are closed off. That’s a beauty that I will have for my whole life, regardless of any patterns of pollination.

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The title of this piece comes from this poem by Alexander Pope.

[1] I still think that if I write about this kind of longing/discontent and call it love, people will think it’s weak art.