My youngest has started her own business. It isn't much of a business since she doesn't charge for her wares. She does it for love. And because she is a busy body. Somewhere along the line someone taught her how to make bracelets from multi-colored string. Now she can't stop making them. And she takes orders from friends, family, strangers who dare to ask her what she is doing. Her little fingers flying as she weaves the thin string into multi-colored bands.
On the surface of it... it is a childish hobby. On a deeper level there is much that is symbolic about it. It is her way of making her mark in the world. Of staking her claim on the people that she loves. Public displays of affection, if you will.
Love can be like that. It is our deep, unspoken desire is to make our mark on other people. To bind them to us in ways where they can't escape. In some cases this is sweet and lovely and happily ever after... but in other cases it can be stifling and limiting and troublesome. My dog has a way of binding us with his love. He sits on us. It isn't really comfortable for either party. But there is a territorial protective part of his behavior that is funny. But it is also hot, smelly and uncomfortable when he steps on areas of you not made for stepping. But the concepts are the same.
We are surrounded with symbols of owning and being owned. Wedding rings are only a hop, skip and jump into metal from the string colored bracelets of my daughter. There is desire to own... but a reluctance to be owned. But owning someone when it means we have to sit on them to keep them where we want them isn't very satisfying. Being our own people by running away from any possibility of being owned isn't very satisfying either.
Of course, love isn't really about owning... or being owned. It is about willing giving oneself over to another. Choosing to stay. And letting the other person decide whether to come or go. That can be joyful. That can be heartbreaking. But it is a lesson that comes to us all at some point. I hope for my daughter the heartbreak is minor and the joy overflowing. But those lessons are far away from now. A now where a piece of string is all it takes to say "I love you".
And so... for the time being at least... there is a middle age man walking around with some woven colored thread on his wrist. She owns a piece of me. I accept that and embrace it. And I love her back, even though that means that I can't tie her down and keep her with me forever. I will let her fly away when she is old enough to fly. Perhaps she will return or perhaps not. That is the risk we take whenever we give a piece of ourselves away with no strings attached.
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