Red Lips & Battlefields

Archive for the tag “love”

On Love & Woe

Dependence and expectation are the cornerstones of all pain. The great Buddha once said that one who has 50 loves has 50 woes, and one who has no loves has no woes. By this, he didn’t mean that we should not love, but that love, in essence, raises the very simple human person to an inextinguishable existence. That belief, which mostly stems from the Western tradition, uplifts us all to the level of “individuals.” It allows us to live under the false pretense that each of us, like a snowflake, is unique and that we all have some kind of everlasting purpose although our presence on this earth is so short-lived.

I agree with most of what the Buddha had to say, but this statement was one that I could never wrap my mind around. Being brought up in the Christian tradition embedded me with faith that we are all inherently important and that, in some way, somewhere, we will continue to exist long after we’re gone. The Christian tradition allows me to love, to elevate the human person onto the pedestal of eternal life.

I still do not dispute my own faith; however, I do recognize that the Buddha was on to something. The one statement he made with which I so adamantly disagreed suddenly makes perfect sense to me: those who have 50 loves have 50 woes, because the human journey is, in fact, a solitary one. We surround ourselves with distractions, conversations and plans with others, but to what end? Life is what happens when we are all so busy making plans. We depend on others, only to be disappointed time and time again. We expect a knock on the door that never comes, we expect to build a future with others that only truly exists on a hypothetical plane, and we avoid the pressing question: to what end?

When people have asked me what my purpose was in the past, I often responded with the same simple answer: to love. That is the Christian message. Jesus was killed for it, but at least his suffering wasn’t in vain. Well, wasn’t it? He suffered in order to alleviate human pain and yet, just take a look around you today. What do you see? Humans still killing humans. Humans still acting selfishly and senselessly. Humans still accumulating wealth that they cannot take with them to their graves, just because. Humans dying and, in dying, leaving it all behind: every last bit.

So, the question stands: what’s the point? I can love with all my heart, yet I cannot depend on love returned. I can love others until I am poor, tired, and bed-ridden myself, yet I cannot take an ounce of the love I have given with me. When I die, perhaps a select few will remember that I fulfilled my Christian duty to love, but they too will soon meet their end and all will be forgotten. It has been forgotten billions of times before. Why should we believe that we are any different, or any more important than our ancestors? How arrogant of us.

Dependence and expectation are the cornerstones of all pain. When one does not depend, one is free. When one does not expect, one does not base happiness upon the expectation.

Now, if I decide that I have established that the Buddha was right, where does that leave me? Do I not love? That seems out of the question. Loving others is the fabric of my most basic nature. I am meant to be a lover, a mother, and a teacher. I am meant to give others the satisfaction of being appreciated. I cannot avoid love, simply. So, what’s the alternative? Should I love and expect nothing in return, trust everyone but not depend on anyone?

Perhaps Jesus could do that, as Jesus was a Buddha. But I am neither Jesus nor Buddha.

I am only a woman who sometimes thinks too much for her own good.

MD 22/01/2015

The Doll House

“Dance me to the end of love.” I had just been listening to my favorite Leonard Cohen song in the car, and was quite amused when your mother greeted me at the door, humming the same tune. As we sat down for dinner, I remember thinking that it was funny that she happened to be playing the same CD that I most often played on my iPhone. I thought that, perhaps, it was some kind of sign that we were supposed to be together.

In retrospect, it seems that I was always looking for these signs, trying to convince myself that I was in the right place. Deep down, I knew I wasn’t. That isn’t to say I didn’t care about you. I did. It’s just that I always sort of knew, silently, that we weren’t meant to be together.

We were much too different, you and I. We just didn’t see things in the same light. You were, for lack of a better word, very mathematical: every decision you ever made was based on a logical formula of sorts. I, on the other hand, was not quite so calculated. I had a vision of the future that I wanted with you, but it was built mostly upon frivolous daydreaming. I knew that it wouldn’t be too long before I snapped out of it.

I don’t know if I can say we were in love. I feel like it isn’t fair to say that we weren’t but, at the same time, I’m really not sure anymore. I feel like we tried to make things work because they looked good on paper. No outsider could have ever guessed that we were unhappy. We were both very good at playing nice. Eventually, it started to drain me. It even became a little bit painful. When I tried to envision the life that lay before us, all I could see were dead ends. I could only see a whole lot of compromising, and a load more of political correctness. Nevertheless, I somehow convinced myself [for a very long time] that I ought to be satisfied.

Leaving you behind was very difficult. I had developed a loyalty to you, which, honestly, could have probably withstood time. We could have probably built a white picket-fence life and filled it with children’s toys. I could have set a meal on our table every day, and you could have brought home the bread. We could have shared a retirement fund.

We would have both been so devastatingly miserable.

You are a wonderful person. One day, you will make someone out there very happy. Someone will choose you with adamant conviction, and you will help her build the most intricate parts of herself, just as she will seal yours. You will be the fabric of each other’s dreams. I could have never been that person. I would have always felt cheated, like I had received the short end of the stick because, with you and I, everything was based on compromise. In order to love each other, we both had to sacrifice the love of ourselves, and we both became bitter.

One day, you will find a love that completes you, and that does not ask you to change in order to earn it. Perhaps I will too. Only time will tell.

All I can really say to you, at this point, is good luck.

Good luck and goodbye.

– Anonymous
April 1, 2014

(For more information on the Kiss&Tell project, as well as access to other anonymous letters or to submit your own, click on the menu option at the top of this page titled “Kiss&Tell”.)

The Unrequited

I don’t know if you have ever realized… but I love you. I have done so since the moment I saw you. This is a feat in itself as all I saw of you was your nose and a bit of your eyes (it was winter so the hat and scarf were covering every bit of your face), yet I was blown away.

You may ask when that happened; a year ago, possibly 2. No, it happened 4 years ago and, to the shock of my friends, I still haven’t told you how I feel. Week after week we see each other, and yet I am too scared to say so. Part of it is due to the fact that I don’t want to ruin a good thing if you don’t feel the same way. I have to say, after my initial reaction, I tempered down my feelings for you. I didn’t want a repeat of someone else, or being disappointed. However, I was right to feel as I did all those years ago.

I love how you respect me. I love how you let me speak and we agree to disagree. I love how we like similar movies and TV shows, yet we also have different tastes in other matters such as music. I love how we watched marathons of those movies and TV shows until the late hours of early morning. I love how you understand my jokes or references to songs and films. I love how you always come to events with me even when you may not like or understand them. I love how we watch football together occasionally. I love how you got me into tennis when I didn’t enjoy it before.

I love all these things and more about you, yet I am scared to tell you. I could fill a page of how much I love you. Every thought of you brings a smile to my face as it does now. You are gorgeous inside and out, which makes me love you even more, if that were even possible.

So here is my confession on paper; you may see it or, very likely, you may not.

– Anonymous
March 20, 2014

(For more information on the Kiss&Tell project, as well as access to other anonymous letters or to submit your own, click on the menu option at the top of this page titled “Kiss&Tell”.)

City of Jasmine

Dear Damascus,

I’ve been meaning to write to you for a while, but I don’t know what to say.
It’s been so long since I walked in your streets,
seen your aging structures,
inhaled the sweet smell of jasmine that fills your air.

I am, not only, deprived of going home,
I am also deprived of seeing home.

I look at your pictures on the news;
I don’t recognize you.
I don’t know a Damascus torn apart;
I only know the one that exists in my memories.

My favorite part of Damascus is the old city,
A 15 minute walk south from my home in mazra3a,
Past the once great castle of Damascus.
I would enter the old city through Sou2 El Hamadiyeh,

A 300 meter long stone bazar.
For thousands of years, people would buy and sell goods here.
I would shop around for Shishas, perfumes and Jewellery.
After walking through the Sou2 I would reach the Ummayed Mosque:

A momument to the, once great, Ummayed Khalifa.
The entire Muslim world was ruled by this quarter in Damascus for 100’s of years.
Now, the muslim world has forgotten our influence and abandoned our people.
After starring in utter aw at this magnificent structure, I continue east to Bab Toma.

Bab Toma is a predominantly Christian area north of the Jewish Quarter,
A maze of narrow 7arat and Arabic style homes,
Filled with Christians and Muslims who have been neighbours for generations.
Getting lost in Bab Toma was a wonderful experience.

It was 3 am, I was walking through the 7arat with my sister and her fiancé.
As we passed the closed shops of the silent streets,
We talked, laughed and lost track of all time and direction.
I was taking in all the history I could,

Touching the old stone walls and wooden doors.
I broke off a small piece of stone and put it in my pocket.

Hours later, still lost, we turned a corner and saw an open door.
Peaking inside we saw a man watching TV,
He spotted us and quickly approached.
We apologized for intruding but he insisted we come in for tea and ka3ik.

After reluctantly stepping into this strangers home
We saw a tree in the middle of the living room, extending through the ceiling.
Only the trunk of this thick, aging tree was visible from the ground floor.
The man said this is a lemon tree that crowns in him bedroom.

We asked why he keeps his house door open at 4am;
“Why close my door?
I grew up with everyone who lives here; if any Shami wants to come in
we will be more than happy to greet them” he replied.

Although i didn’t realize it at the time,
This is the moment I learned the true Arabic social fabric:
Having so much trust in the people around you
That you leave your door open at night without a worry.

I don’t remember the man’s name.
I didn’t ask him about his religion, he didn’t ask me.
Through his generous Arabic spirt I realized,
He is more brother to me than stranger.

Oh Damascus,
I long to walk your streets again.
Oh Damascus,
I long for your jasmine scented air.

However much I want to visit Damascus,
I dread the day I will arrive.
When I see the destruction that has fallen on you,
The images in my head will immediately become distorted.

This letter I am writing
Doesn’t have a recipient
Because the Damascus I know
Doesn’t exist anymore.

– Anonymous
March 20, 2014.

The Passerby

If I could, I would write you a masterpiece, but you will have to make do with my humble soliloquy for now…

Our brief encounter was, in time, as simple as two shoulders accidentally rubbing on a crowded side-walk. You could have been nobody. But, I took the time to look at you. You took the time to see me. And all it took was that one hard look for me to know that I knew you. I knew you, and you hadn’t yet said a word.

I didn’t speak to you for long. Not long at all. But, somehow, you managed to get right under my skin. You awakened passions in me that I lost a lifetime ago. You reminded me what it was like to feel again; to find, to celebrate, to lose, to mourn, to remember. The accidental touch of your shoulder against mine felt like a full-blown slamming of souls. You left me breathless.

You’re gone now, with all the other strangers who pass me by on crowded sidewalks every morning. It is quiet, now, and there is only room for memory. If there was a magical pen that could draw your face into the fabric of my dreams, I wouldn’t possibly remember it better. I remember “A Whole New World.” I remember hands shaking. I remember eyes meeting mine, and finally feeling at home. I remember diving despite my fear of water. Exposure therapy.

For you, I dove. And I broke my neck. I knew, if I didn’t, I would never forgive myself.

– Anonymous
March 19, 2014.

(For more information on the Kiss&Tell project, as well as access to other anonymous letters or to submit your own, click on the menu option at the top of this page titled “Kiss&Tell”.)

The Dirty Little Secret

“We only said goodbye with words, I [cried] a hundred times. You go back to [earth] and I go back to…” The closer we get, the quicker you go back to reality, reminding me that ‘we’ could never be. I guess in a way you try to remind yourself too but why remind when you can’t forget? I will never forget one of the most surreal and real moments in my life–heavily and sadly crying while I was given one of the best gifts of my life. In your arms, driving where the wind would take us (literally) reminded me of how carefree we were for that split second when nothing else mattered. You showed me that I can have emotion again, you showed me that I could love without boundary even if for a blink of an eye. Thank you. Thank you because I know that if my world crashed you would not let me crash with it. Thank you for kissing me with love and with lust. Thank you for looking at me ‘that’ way.

There are some things better left unsaid, but I know whenever we look into each others eyes they do the talking. I suppose this is what this letter’s meant to be, a brief look into my eyes. And then you hold me tight underneath the sun and moon in various nooks and cracks in the city and it’s like for those few moments there are no obstacles in the way. 2 am road trips, sneaking off into waterfalls, falling into the embrace of dangerous excitement all came crashing my way for years. We can thank that moment by the mountain, during the sunset, and after just a few days of talking, when we just knew. Something unmistakable, something forbidden, and yet, something so wonderful was about to occur. I use that word because I can never explain it to another human being. And that’s why you’re my dirty little secret. Well, for other reasons too of course.

These obstacles… I don’t want you to ever think that I won’t abide by them or that I will try to make you change your mind. If I could turn back time and be in the position to erase one of the obstacles, I would in a heartbeat. And then you would be mine. But you’re not unless it’s temporary. I don’t know why we put walls up when vulnerable; I can see that even in writing this. The last time you pushed me away tore me apart more than I could ever explain to you. Maybe it’s because I felt it was really goodbye; like this was it. I wouldn’t want to ever fully let you go, there is a magnetic force in me latched on to you. I know one day I will not have a choice in the matter but I guess I’m still on my first stage of grief- denial. I hope you never read this. I hope you never know how much it actually hurts or how much I care. But I hope you feel the same way. Sometimes you win—sometimes I feel insignificant to you. Maybe in the realm of everything that is logical I am, but if I was emotionally insignificant then I would not be pushed away just to be held tight… I don’t get it, even if I participate in it.

Why is it that people play games? I guess to prove who has the power. But in this case none of us do… and yet we’re stuck playing, hiding, masking, and not saying all that is true. So don’t read this letter because the games will be over. And once they are, I’m afraid you’ll go with them. Love me from a distance, dream of me, and hold me in every breath you take… This is just the beginning of my goodbye, my dirty little secret. I will forever keep the memories sealed within my heart.

March 12, 2014.

(For more information on the Kiss&Tell project, as well as access to other anonymous letters or to submit your own, click on the menu option at the top of this page titled “Kiss&Tell”.)

The Far-Fetched

We’ve been talking for quite some time now and our friendship has grown to a point where there are days where we would spend endless hours, day or night, talking about anything, which is so often criticized as impersonal and distant.

I don’t think I’ve ever “talked” as much with anybody or any so-called friend as I do with you.

Some people talk about the risks and dangers of knowing someone you just met, to the point of becoming suspicious of their own shadows. But I must confess that our contact, even at a distance, has become really important to me.

But, more importantly, I feel the need to know that you are well, that you had a good day, that things went well for you and all those curiosities that true friends have about one another.

By writing this letter, I acknowledge my intention of maintaining this almost daily contact, until the day that we can tighten this relationship and make it more physical.

March 10, 2014

(For more information on the Kiss&Tell project, as well as access to other anonymous letters or to submit your own, click on the menu option at the top of this page titled “Kiss&Tell”.)

The Byron

You’re a difficult memory,
But you’re a wonderful one.

You challenged everything I believed in.

You tore me apart and then made me a whole different kind
Of whole.

You nourished me, re-energized me,
and sheltered me.
You kept me warm.

You made me feel at home; you were good at that.

You were also good at leaving.
So was I.

All the roads lead to Venice, after all.
All the roads lead to love.

They lead to nothing.

But the wind blows.
And, when it blows, we have to go with it.

Don’t we?

– Anonymous.
March 1, 2014.

(For more information on the Kiss&Tell project, as well as access to other anonymous letters or to submit your own, click on the menu option at the top of this page titled “Kiss&Tell”.)

Four Years Old – A Memory


The brick beneath my foot
Is grey with memory.

I inspect it.

The left corner must have cracked
By virtue of a very big man
With much bigger feet than mine.

He must have been running.

Yes. He was.

My left ear buzzes.
The kind of buzzing that comes from
Being stared at,
Or being surrounded by flies.

I look up,

The eye of a gun;
It must have stared at me too long.

That’s what caused the buzzing.

I return my gaze to the broken brick.
Yes, he was running.

But, perhaps, he was not so big.
Perhaps, only four years too old.
Perhaps, he had a sister.


I do not raise my voice,
Or raise an unruly finger.
I know daddy will ask:
“Who taught you that?”


I close my eyes;
Imagine the finger pull.
Imagine the fire backfire.

Imagine an unlikely form
Of justice.

I giggle.
(MD 2013)

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