On the sometimes rare occasion, one has the ever so fortunate experience of being transformed by another person. Like a comet passing by a dark world on its way somewhere else or perhaps a meteorite penetrating a lone planet’s atmosphere in a fantastic display of streaking light before leaving its permanent and indelible mark on the planet’s cosmic face, a person lights up your world and you are forever altered. Your life and path are forever altered.
There’s a scene in the movie “Phenomenon” (1996) where the lead female character discovers that the lead male character has been the one buying all of the chairs she’s been making and selling outside of his store. Upon finding out about his secret, she is (at first) upset with him. However, as he begins to experience extraordinary capabilities in extra-sensory perception, she sticks by his side even when others in the town become fearful of his newfound talents. In another scene viewable below, a friend (played by Robert Duvall) explains the crux of the matter quite well.
So now that I have provided you with the necessary reference for what I wish to share, I’d like to start by saying that I have desperately longed for someone to buy my own chairs ever since I first saw this movie. From my late husband when he was alive to every love interest since he passed away, I had hoped that just one person would love my chairs the way George loved Lace’s. But, I don’t actually make chairs and whenever I spoke about wanting someone to buy them, no one ever seemed to know what I was talking about.
So, if I don’t make chairs, what do I make? What do I put myself into? The answer is right here. You’re reading it. I put myself into words and attempt to construct my own “chairs” out of sentences, paragraphs, maybe a plot or two. And guess what? There’s not a lot of people out there who believe that what I create is of any value. And, unfortunately, I’ve even married and dated a number of those people.
But that all changed this past August when I started texting a man I had come to know through an online dating application. Although this same person even sent me the link to the above video early on in our chats, I was only initially excited by the realization that he was familiar with the concept of buying someone’s chairs. Actually, excited is the wrong word. I was (more accurately) over the moon and beside myself with that little bit of serendipity. And yet, any hope or expectation that he would buy my chairs was fleeting (at best) and when he did start to buy them, I don’t know that I immediately or even fully realize it for what it was.
It started, I believe, with a sharing of a poem or two…..and a few letters. I began to send him handwritten musings about various aspects of my life and even about him. And although those early letters were received well enough, I don’t know how long I expected the writing to continue. For I’ve been told that I’m an over thinker and this has a way of making my words rather tedious. As a result, my overall recollection of past experiences is that my personal letters aren’t typically that well-received. Nevertheless, I just wanted to be myself, for better or worse…..and I did that, without fear or reservation. I lay bare every annoying personal attribute and shared every single sappy sentimental word that came to mind. And he read them all. And he continued to read them as time went on.
After about a month of writing him, however, I realized something quite fantastic. I realized he didn’t just read the letters. He understood them. He understood what I was trying to express in them, absorbing the words and even deriving information from them about who I am…..and it all became quite evident in the things he, in turn, shared with me. And It was at that same point that I also experienced first hand what it meant to really love someone.
It happened during a moment of brief sadness upon realizing there would come a day when it all would end, one way or another….the texting, sharing, letters, happy and warm feelings. And it didn’t matter when or how it all would end. It could have been the next day or after we finally met in person or upon my death or his. Nothing was permanent. And yet, even in knowing this, I was still not afraid. For once in my life, the fear of loss did not dominate my heart. And the fear of what I didn’t know or understand just didn’t exist at all. For I believed I knew him, and understanding that I would lose whatever it was that we had in that moment or moments to come was not really a concern. I was ready for any and all of it and in the process of realizing this, I saw and understood that this man who bought my chairs had completely transformed my life with every single purchase. In short, he had transformed me.
“There is no fear in real love. In real love, you know that loss is coming one way or another, but you embrace the now. You do not fear its death, but accept it….and in its acceptance, your heart opens and love blooms. It may be for a moment. It may be for a lifetime, but it blooms….and it’s extraordinary.” -JS
You see, no one I had been romantically involved with ever seemed to really believe in my writing and more often than not, some even appeared to be frightened by it….not unlike some of the characters in the above movie clip. What was becoming quite apparent was the difference it was making in me to be able to express things that had been stored away for decades…saved for just the right person. By writing to him and knowing that he was reading every word, I was slowly becoming the writer buried in me for half a life-time.
And this is why I am where I am today, doing what I am doing. When someone buys your chairs, you make more. You share and grow and thrive. Like a plant given a little bit of water and light, you are then able to offer a little bit of oxygen to those who find their breath in it. Inevitable endings don’t matter and just as the main character, George, illustrates at the end of “Phenomenon,” we might leave our mark. Maybe we leave it on another person. Maybe we leave it on the world. It doesn’t matter where. The only thing I really know is that every time I make a new chair, there’s a person who buys it…so I will fearlessly stick by and make him a million more if I can.