The day before my 26th birthday I went rollerblading. This was also the day I realized I shouldn’t skate down really big hills. As my face bounced off the asphalt and I heard several families at the nearby playground gasp, I did a quick scan of the situation. Even with a helmet, knee pads, and wrist pads, I was a bit banged up. For weeks I monitored my purple/blue body in the mirror and made every movement a strategic calculation.
It’s been over a year and I can still see one faded bruise on my leg. I know it’s only a matter of time until that last physical reminder leaves me. (It was a much shorter period of time before I wanted to go rollerblading again.)
I was talking with a friend recently about how I want to use my body in every possible way. This friend and I had grown up together as runners and while I still think of that as my main sport, it has been a joy to explore movement in all its forms and push outside my comfort zone—even when it sometimes ends in a bit of a mess.
And so I’ve been dancing.
I’ve been hiking and biking and swimming and stretching and skating. I’ve been embracing all forms of movement and leaning into what the physical body can do despite anything the physical body has endured. I’ve been pushing the boundaries of myself and being open to skating down a hill again—even though one time it was a little rough.
While wholly committed to adventures of the physical body, a long time ago, I promised myself I wouldn’t take the same risks with my heart. I told myself that it was perhaps safer to stay. Or to go. Or to be alone. I convinced myself that I had literature and traveling and my notebook to provide all the love one might need.
Love. Romantic love. A topic I seldom breach on this blog. I’ve written about self love, love for strangers, love of adventure or community or family or friends. In fact, in the Ambassador Program, we spent all of February talking about love. But love love? I suppose I didn’t want to write about love love because I wasn’t sure how to begin comprehending something so intangible.
And then I remembered that I’ve spent the last 9 ½ years recording daily joy. Happiness. Another seemingly intangible. But something I understand much more intimately now. Something I understand because of a deliberate choice to lean into it, to take a leap of faith, and to use my heart in every possible way.
Boy is that scary. And when you’ve had countless “rollerblading crash equivalent” heart quakes, the idea of using that part of you at all can be a bit much. But for the past year, I have found myself intentionally lacing up and leaning into love.
And it is more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed.
Because I want to use my heart in every way possible. I want to love big. I want to love unconditionally. I want to love out loud.
In the last year, I’ve been given that opportunity—to make love tangible. To see that love is a clean tea kettle and an honest review of a baking experiment. A knowing glance across the room and the offer of a supportive hand on a steep hike. A meal with all your favorite foods and an “I believe in you” hug.
I’m realizing that perhaps the best way to comprehend something as intangible and all-encompassing as Happiness or love is to continue to show up and use your heart every day. And maybe to dance a little bit along the way.