I went to a bridal shower this afternoon and one of the bits of wisdom shared was that marriage is heartbreaking work. While I generally agreed with the sentiment it didn’t feel like a total articulation of the experience.
So I sat on the train to Harrisburg en route to visit my mother in law thinking about love and heartbreak.
As an artist it’s clear to me that developing a beautiful piece of writing is a work of creation delicately balanced with sensitive pruning. The spaces, the gaps, are as important as what’s on the page. The story should neither be over nor under developed.
Marriage, I’ll posit, has some parallels to good writing. It has broken my heart (the gaps). Repeatedly. Excruciatingly. Viscerally. But I turn the page, take a breath, and re-open my eyes to my lover and companion and my heart is made anew (the page). Sometimes, on the other side of suffering, my heart grows wilder in its kindness. The generosity of shared daily love (with all its comforts and struggles) leaves me more curious about the human condition, able to connect with other humans with more empathy. I grow humbler and, frankly, stronger. The well of love digs deeper into me, and my resources grow. It’s neither comfortable nor pretty. I’m convinced it is worthwhile.
Let me bring the bonsai picture into this. The bonsai above is in training–a comparatively large rock dangles from one of its limbs giving it the graceful shape the gardener intends.
As a spouse I experience all three: sometimes I am the rock, sometimes I am the branch, and sometimes I am the gardener. And that is love to me: My heart breaking and being remade, by turn.