Choosing the Beast

9.20.08 Update: This is now up in essay form as well…just scrolll down.

This is something that came to me today. It will be up in a day or two as a text post. But for now, I think it wants to be just sound. I’m sorry it doesn’t look prettier. If anyone can tell me in simple terms how to change the code so this is an embedded file that doesn’t have to open in a new window I’d appreciate it. Until then, thank you for listening as-is. Oh, and please say nice things, or at least that you listened. Podcasting still feels tender-new to me. Tak.

Choosing the Beast

I sat in silence for the first time in a long time today. No television on as background noise, no music, not even the warm tumble-thump of the dryer. Just the candles and a tub full of warm water, and the sounds of my noisy mind slowly settling into stillness.

There is a way of holding still without becoming stiff that only happens for me in the womb like waters of a bathtub. As I have no bathtub here in my Danish expat home, this watery stillness is a much longed for and uncommon occurrence. Today, in my borrowed claw foot basin something came to my side. A revelation:

The choice to love, to really love, is incredibly, ridiculously brave.

It is not a surrendering of self but rather, a time when you scramble a bit to find your footing, and then you stand in your own power and look the Vast Beast in the eye and say, “I choose this.” I choose this thing that can both protect me and tear me apart; that can and will bring me my most enthralling joys and my most excruciating and unanticipated pain. I choose the risk. I choose the possibility of endings. I chose to be as simpatico as old souls and to be equally, heartrendingly misunderstood. I choose to be at intervals rashly taken advantage of and unexpectedly worshipped. I choose this terror and this beauty. I choose love.

There are many times when we step into this place of love in naiveté—in the blithe flush of new crush and happy mutual adoration, blissfully unaware of the awe-full power we are inviting into our lives. We do this when we marry; when we choose our children; when we accidentally fall in love with a jubilant soul, with the idea of beauty, with wanting to be a writer or a painter or a poet; with a country we did not even know was part of our bones. When this happens, we live in that place for awhile with ease and contentment, unable or unwilling to see the depth of the pact we have made, not acknowledging that some part of our soul was the currency used in the bargain. Sometimes this joyride continues through the long luxurious length of our journey. But more often the fearful awesomeness of what it really takes to sustain the choice to love looms in front of us and we find that we must be very brave. Brave enough to say, “I choose this still.” Brave enough to stay the course, to maintain the bond even when it becomes painful to do so. Brave enough to say I will bear the ache of watching you grow up, of watching you be sick, of watching you grow old. I will bear the confusion over what to do, over how to love you best. I will love you through this whirlwind, through this firestorm. I chose this beast called love.

I am in a place right now where I must very intentionally choose to love: to love people who are far away; to love my challenging tween and teen; and most challengingly to love my own ill and tired self. And I am watching others commit brave acts of love: surrendering to a first love; watching someone die; tending to a baby soul born at midlife; loving someone through the sickness part of “in sickness and in health.” These acts, these making of stands on the high ground of love are so real, so raw, so terrifyingly powerful they make me want to shield my soul from the solar-flare burst of it all.

But I won’t. I don’t. Instead I stand in the choosing. I stand in the heart of the flame and I try to remember, “if you are never afraid you can never be brave.” And then, I chose love.

Bethany September 18, 2008 at 8:11 am

You’re a brave soul for posting this. There’s something so touching and lovely about hearing someone’s voice; it’s also vulnerable and “tender-new,” so thank you for being willing to share this gift. I had to listen three times, because the first time through, I was too bowled-over by the significance of your words to really absorb it. I’m at that scary, spindly place of choosing right now, and this was a desperately needed reminder of what this thing is that I’ve chosen. That I *am* choosing. Love. I hope it will light a bit more of your soul to know that someone needed what you had to give today.

daniel September 18, 2008 at 8:18 am

Just what I needed this morning, Rachelle – to hear your voice, and to be reminded of love and beauty and goodness in the world.

Thank you for your bravery!

andrea September 18, 2008 at 11:06 am

Greetings from Montreal!
I’ve enjoyed your insightful blog for ages, although this is my first time commenting. Thank you for sharing this. It’s beautiful. It sounds very litrugical at parts, making me wanna be reciting it with you and a whole host of other love-rs.

Elaine September 18, 2008 at 12:08 pm

I sat still (very hard for me, in or out of a warm bath) and was not even tempted to multi-task while I listened to this. Oh, I will play it several more times today. Thank you for being brave enough to share it as-is.

Rachelle, you have such a gift with words — the ability to translate the heart’s language. Thank you.

kel September 18, 2008 at 3:40 pm

much admiration for coping with not having a bath to soak in
it’s a small simple thing that can restore some semblance of sanity in a silly world

loved the podcast
thanx for sharing

Sacred Suzie September 18, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Lovely. Tender indeed. I love hearing about your listening to the silence as your frantic mind quieted down. You are brave, I have not dared share my voice with the blogging world and yours is lovely. So telling.

Shell September 18, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Loved your podcast. Your words and voice are full of love, passion and dedication. To love others is truly a challenging act because we lay ourselves vulnerable. In return, others bare their soul equally. When this happens it is magical.

This Guy September 18, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Wow. Just amazing! Absolutly lovely! Thank you SO much for sharing!

gilly September 19, 2008 at 9:51 am

Thank you so much making this available for us!
Ridiculously Brave….I like that.

Heather September 19, 2008 at 11:19 am

I was blown away by your podcast. For me too, it was just what I needed to hear, as I struggle with the pain, confusion, and anger of Tommy and the feelings his little body is unable to contain. It can be so overwhelming – I have approached love so naively. Your podcast made me think about how it is not until we are challenged by the other side of love that we really step up and make the choice, tlove becomes more than just a gift to enjoy.

I loved hearig your voice – it is much more powerful to listen to your words, rather than read them. I hope you do more.

Jen Lee September 19, 2008 at 4:00 pm

So nice to hear you, almost-friend. So, so good…

Lori in Denver September 19, 2008 at 7:39 pm

I was drawn here today, and now it’s clear why.

Thanks for your timely message.

Rebecca Dallin September 19, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Yes, I think you’re right. When you’re young, you may choose love without knowlege. But when you really know, choosing love is brave. I wonder if I will ever be that brave again.

You are one of the bravest people I know. Thank you for loving, graciously and without shielding your soul.

Tess September 20, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Just today I was talking with friends about my difficulty absorbing words if I cannot see the speaker. For example I find it difficult to concentrate on spoken word radio programmes.
No such difficulty here. Your words are beautiful, compelling and challenging. As others have said, this was achingly personal. And it made me realise that I have rarely been brave enough.

Silvia September 24, 2008 at 9:27 pm

i’ve been listening to this podcast for many times. there’s something about it that resonates so deeply with me. but i can’t seem to put those feelings into words just yet.

Ria September 24, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Hi! First time commenter here. Just wanted to thank you for sharing your beautiful and immensely touching essay.

rhea September 25, 2008 at 4:00 pm


Graciel@Evenstar Art September 25, 2008 at 5:01 pm

This piece is exquisite in its truth, its power, its grace. You’ve touched my heart and given me courage with your inspired words. Thank you, thank you.

rowena January 26, 2009 at 6:02 pm

This is the link I hit on randomly, probably drawn to the title, and now i need to sit with it and reread it and really think about it, because I am definitely dealing with this beast right now, and I don’t want to go in blind, and I want to go in aware of my fear. Releasing myself.

Jolie February 6, 2009 at 4:01 am

As always, Rachelle, your words are timely and needed. Thank you.

The Other Laura February 6, 2009 at 5:10 am

Powerful writing, full of courage and strength.

I am practically speechless in the face of such truth.

ngaire Bartlam February 6, 2009 at 10:03 am

beautiful.. simply beautiful.

Ngaire In Australia

Mark Barnett January 27, 2012 at 11:37 am

This was my third choice of the three, Wandering (1), Alone (2), and now love (3). I think love is still distant, perhaps the missing piece. When I embrace it, then all the wandering and alone-ness will empower “being.”

Thanks for sharing this!

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