The Break Up
It begins with a break up.
Not the kind of break up that lends itself to tissues and chocolate peanut butter pie (although I am often tempted to date just to break up, just to fall head first into a justified peanut butter pie coma). But no, no, this is the kind of break up that stems from a chance encounter. This is the break up we have seen played out in nearly every movie that Kate Hudson has graced the screen. Like every classic, often predictable chick flick: the protagonist who seemingly “has it all” settles into a relationship that cheapens her worth. The guy is never around. Married to his work. Flirts with other girls. But said protagonist does not give a second thought to leaving. Or finding better.
Until…that epic chance encounter with a rugged costar who awkwardly bumps into her in the lobby of a hotel or while dog walking (notice how they are always walking their dogs in those movies?).
The girl suddenly finds herself knee-deep in a ruffled mess of clichés. Falling Head Over Heels. Strange Insects Flapping Their Wings Within Her Stomach. Tossing and Turning in Satin Sheets at Night.
So naturally, a break up ensues. The kind where things needed to first Break in order to Look Up.
She is tired of the old. She knows that better exists out there; she’s now seen it with her own two eyes. She decides that enough is enough; a little heartbreak won’t kill her if the weight falls off her shoulders.
I had a break up with my own body.
A Kate Hudson kind of break up with my own self. You want to say it is not possible. I want to say it is quite possible.
We were in a long distance relationship for far too long, as if I were sitting upon a cloud watching a girl live in New York City, swipe her metro card through a turnstile, and bolt off to work without ever stepping foot into her body. She and I, we were forgetting to talk at night. We were barely ever communicating. I stopped listening to what she wanted. She stopped wanting anything at all. This, my friends, is where you need to either take the peanut butter pie to your face and cry on top of a kitchen table or decide to make a split. Change Something. Change Anything at All.
“I want to learn to date Amazement,” I told my friend at a coffee shop one morning. My eyes were tired. My feet were probably swollen from some ridiculous pair of heels. “There is no reason, at all, that I should not be amazed by every little thing around me. I want to be more grateful for all of it.”
Hold Up…I realize right now how very transcendent I sounded in that statement. I can assure you all, I was not trying to date my inner being or make out with trees and butterflies while contemplating my past life as a brick in a castle. (No offense to anyone who has a past life as a brick in a castle. I am sure it was a beautiful one.) I was merely trying to fess up to the fact that I wanted life to court me. I wanted the little things to make my attention more often. I wanted to stand—barefoot and broken open—before a world that surely was broken herself but still had so much Amazement tied in the locks of her spiral-curled hair.
And while Cosmopolitan can shovel ten thousand tips into our digestive tracts about how to date and date “right,” I can sum my quest to date Amazement into three steps. Three Simple Steps. Beat that Cosmo. Come over here, and I’ll show ya how we get things done in this yard.
Step One: Look Up.
Girly girl, if you are spending your days watching your feet prance on concrete, then, rightfully so, you should be a little depressed. We are human beings. Translation: We got Tough Times. Rough Patches. Unfavorable Situations. Wrong Turns. Messy Conversations. Selfish Motives.
Basically, we have these messy, messy lives, and it is kind of a beautiful thing. A wondrous art if you choose to see it that way.
My favorite line ever, even beating the top-notch phrases of Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, are words written by Chaska Lela Potter before she let Jason Mraz slip ‘em into his sweet lungs: “Hey, what a beautiful mess this is/It’s like picking up trash in dresses.”
Oh My Goodness. Evoke Imagery Right Now. Lace and Silk White Dresses. Brass Buttons. Sheer Veils. Knees Sunk in the Dirt. Dump Yard. Unearthing Treasures in a Trash Field. Call me a garbage man’s daughter, but this is the most beautiful illustration of life that I can find. How amazing it is that we have the chance to pick the treasures from the mess of the world and hold them high up to the light.
There’s no chance we could possibly go another day missing that, needing that, forgetting to look up and realize we have so much of that already.
Step Two: Look Around.
When we finally look up, it becomes easier to tilt our heads this way and that way and Look Around. Look Left. Look Right. Look Both Ways and Cross Streets.
Suddenly, we are swept into a wild courtship with a Messy World that always brings Amazement along on her arm, fitting nicely into the crook of her elbow.
Perhaps this is a kindergarten lesson, but we have Fingers. Knees. Freckles. Legs to Walk. Lips to Kiss. Arms to Embrace. Lungs to Inhale Life’s Sultry Symphonies. We can dance. Now. Laugh. Now. Break Up, Make Up, Show Up. Right Now. And in five minutes. And two hours. And tomorrow. Again and Again and Again.
Amazement in a fine, fine suitor. The debonair skips right over the chocolates and flowers and ties the whole wide world and all its brilliant possibilities up in a silky white bow.
“Here you go,” Amazement says at the door. “And by the way, you have a very pretty face.”
Step Three: Look Inside.
Ah, the place we often never want to look for fear of the mess we might encounter if we pick around too long. Car Crashes of the Soul. Bitter Feelings. A Whole Collection of Pandora Boxes Full of Sadness, Loneliness, and Unhappiness.
But we must go there—with flashlights, sleeping bags, and tents—if we ever pray to be ok with ourselves inside and out and to embrace the Amazing Potential that is praying for release.
Dating Amazement starts when we Let Go of the Mediocre Bindings. The Little Problems that seem Oh So Big. The Feelings that we feel will never end. And we open ourselves up to the truth: We are worth more. There is more than this. We don’t run the show. There is Something or Someone much larger than us that Pumps Amazement into the Place where we Stamp our Feet and Cry out Loud.
Amazement slips in when we admit to being Messes of Skin but admit to wanting something more. Something far beyond average or ordinary.
Be still. Be quiet. Perk your ears up. Can you hear it? Amazement just propped open a window. It is time to crawl through.
Hannah Brencher is a writer, speaker, and creator pinning her passion to projects that bring the human touch back into the digital age. After spending a year writing and mailing over 400 love letters to strangers across the world, Hannah launched The World Needs More Love Letters in August 2011—a global organization fueled by volunteer “letter writers,” now in fifty states and forty-seven countries. She’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Oprah, Glamour, the White House Blog, and is currently a global finalist for the TED2013 Global Talent Search (watch the TED Talk). You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.