M_cc5fee2fe6743e98ff7e32283049f05e_1By John Hope Bryant

Written between age 18-20

Through my experiences in life I learned that at any given moment in life, any one you choose to stop and pick, there never seems to be enough (time that is) to allow us to make mistakes, experience and adjust to others, or to readjust to our ever changing and new found selves. There are so many experiences, feelings, hurts, heals and changes in self during a period of growth, that sometimes it hurts to do nothing else but to sit back and reflect for a while. “Concentrate on not concentrating,” as I like to put it. And if we are truly lucky, and if we are willing to learn from our mistakes, our memories of the past will give us some kind of foresight for what’s to come, and insight as to what’s happening and where we are right now in our lives.  This retooling of my thinking process has led me down a path that not only enlightened me, but made me sensitive and aware of the real beauty and value in people, relationships, and myself. In my journey into “the art of caring,” I was forced to confront many things in my life that were not necessarily joyful or admirable. I only hope that in my travels down that path, I have helped, through the reading and comprehension of the following few pages, to smooth out some of the hard and painful bumps for the next person, who dares to also travel.

Everyday that passes strengthens me in my theory that there are no accidents. That everything that happens in life, happens for a reason. Whether it be to wake us up, to bring us gently back to ourselves, to make us think or care, to remind us of our humanness, or whatever the purpose.

When you meet a mate, it might be by chance, but in my opinion, not an accident. I would even go so far as to say that if it hadn’t been that person, it would have been someone else of like qualities (surprisingly to me, there seems to be a lot of genuinely good people out there). Maybe your paths crossed because someone “out there” wanted you to be reminded that there are still people who sincerely care. That there are individuals who are secure enough in themselves, to allow their insecurities to rise to the surface so that the birth of a relationship is possible. And that the fine art of love and caring has not died in the hearts of those individuals that are true to themselves and their emotions. And even if it didn’t work out, at least you’ve learned, experienced, “and maybe even restored hope in the system.”

But more often than not, our egos get in the way of our hearts, and we never see the beauty of the forest for the trees, if you know what I mean. Even I, not so very long ago, use to think “I’ll love you, if.” If everyone had just one single person in his/her life who says “I will love you no matter what. I will love you if you act stupid, f you slip and fall on your face, if you do the wrong thing, I will love you no matter what,” then we have never end up in mental institutions. Think about it. Aren’t mental institutions packed to the walls with people, breathing, caring, and more often than not, very loving individuals, who simply didn’t confirm to societies expectations?

To me, the concept of “love no matter what,” this is what marriages should be made of. Home, a real home, is a place that accepts you no matter what, they have to take you in. That’s what a home should be – like “come on in. Okay, you’ve been dumb, but I’m not going to say it, I love you, and I’ll take you as you are.” That’s a home that I personally wouldn’t mind ending my day with.

Take it from someone who has tried all of the escapist type head games, men really need someone who care about him, no matter what their macho image attempts to convey otherwise. Again, just one person, but someone who really gives a damn, and I’m not talking about a great big scene. I’m talking about little things, little (very important) ways of showing you care.

Personally, I think we all should go back to school and enroll in classes “Caring 1A,” and “Love, Advanced Level 1B.” We, as individuals can change our own destiny, simply by taking responsibility for our own decisions, by fighting our petty resistances against change and fear, by learning more about our hearts and our minds. By practicing to see and hear and touch and feel as we have never before used these senses, by creating something with our own hands without demanding perfection, by listening to the words we utter to our wives, our kids, and our friends, by listening to the words and looking into the eyes of those who speak to us, by learning to respect the process of our own creative encounters, and by having the faith that they will get us somewhere soon. We must face our own shortcomings, mistakes, and transgressions. And we must decide to leave our beds and live again. And if we fail, we don’t have the comfort of blaming others or life or God.

I’ve learned that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s “okay to hurt,” and to be able to relate to that feeling just like any other, ….it’s okay to be human. It doesn’t matter who you’ve hurt in the past, if you’ve learned not to hurt again. It doesn’t  matter what mistakes you’ve made as long as you don’t make them again. As long as you learn, as long as you’re willing to take responsibility for your own life, and kiss it and go from there. Then there is growth. Then there is life. And any two individuals with these unique qualities, who take the responsibility of backing each other up, are, in my opinion, irrepressible.

For me, the following poem puts the value of a relationship into perspective:

“If I learn so that I can teach you more.

If I grow and grow, I can give you more of me.

I strive for wisdom so that I can better encourage your truth.

I became more aware and sensitive so that I can better accept your sensitivity and awareness.

And I struggle to understand my humanness so that I can better understand you when you reveal to me that you are only human, too.

I’ll cry with you, but never because of you.

I’ll laugh with you, but never at of you.

I may not agree with you, but I will always support you.

I’ll believe in you as long as you believe in us.

And I live in continual wonder of life so that I can allow you too, to celebrate life.

What I do for me, I do for you.

And what you do for you, you do for me, so that it is never selfish.

As my agent use to say, ‘John, the job is yours to lose,’ and so goes my love for you!’

You have your brushes (your heart and you mind), you have mixed your paints (life’s experiences and lessons), now paint your paradise and you go!”

If you are for someone, for God’s sake tell them, hug them, …show them (and if they can’t respond to genuine love, then that’s something that they will have to deal with in themselves. Your only responsibility, in this life, is to offer it). “Water the roses before they die.” For tomorrow is only an allusion that we can only hope to be a part of.

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