A true expert hiker, cannot call himself that unless he frequently, and consistently conditions himself to be one. Practice really does make perfect. My sister was able to view the Fourth of July fireworks from the top of a mountain, not because she is a hardcore hiker, but because her husband is. She couldn’t stop talking about the hike up the mountain, how amazing it was to see the fireworks at eye level, and to see ALL of the Ogden Utah Valley that they live in, light up in sparkling color.
I kept thinking about that. Not everyone can go night hiking. Not the weak, or the fearful, or the deconditioned soul. But she could. Why? Because she has learned to be strong, faced her fears, and allowed the pain to condition her for these types of joys. These are joys that only her current husband of almost 5 years has brought into her life, because he is a lifelong hiker. Weekly Wednesday night hikes are never to be altered or skipped. In fact, he plans his weeks around them. Sunday he makes sure to watch the news, has geographic map apps, weather watching apps that resemble KUED 2 news weathermen, and apps for getting the “Meet-Up” group emails out to let everyone know where to meet – up for the hike. (Imagine that).
But that isn’t what prepares him. It is the fact that he actually participates and does the work he loves; he hikes all the soft, hard, steep, down-hill, rough, sandy etc. trails weekly. He traverses through them all as a true expert.
The point is, he is only an expert because he put in the time, pain, sweat and tears to learn those important hard-earned lessons, and Tammy observed and now respects how he walks the walk, literally, and not just talks the talk.
By now you are saying, why is a romance author not talking about love? Well, I am. Love is a hard-earned lesson too. Ask any married couple, even those married 2 weeks. Bliss is bliss but what if bad weather comes, or financial trouble? What if one gets injured?
It takes conditioned love, to be able to love unconditionally. No, read that again. It takes conditioned love, practiced love, to truly be able to depend on your instinct to love someone unconditionally, even when the storms come.
But as humans, we have selfish sides, right? Maybe even dishonest, or perhaps jealous sides. What about sensitive sides? Yes, ladies, your tender hearts can get in the way of your love. You know it does.
But a truth universally acknowledged, is love sometimes trips us up. We fall. We often say we fall in love, but more often, we fall over love. We fall for love, and through love, and some even throw themselves at love’s feet. But, all of it is like the weekly hikes my brother in law has done for 60+ years. All those falls, and mistakes, and pains, and racing heartbeats, and joys and goals reached . . . well, that is what makes you conditioned to “fall-IN-love”. You become conditioned to love unconditionally. You became capable of falling in love for good.
I filed for divorce this week. My second. I want that unconditional love, I dearly do, as I am sure most of you do too. I have chosen to label these last 3 years as one of my “falls while walking the walk”, so that I may acknowledge that I loved, he loved, we loved, but it all ended up conditioning my heart for what is to come. Someday I may be ready to “fall in love” again, but my heart will have the muscle memory, the fortitude to endure, and the experience-driven capability to have what I always wanted.
But until then, the pain is quite raw. My proverbial heart muscles are sore. But I know that I climbed, I saw, I descended, and I will always remember the fireworks I saw at eye level.
I have added a small snippet from Pride and Persistence, (who saw that comeing??) where Colonel Fitzwilliam helps Elizabeth understand why storms come.
The colonel reached for Elizabeth’s elbow and turned her back around. He paused, wondering how he could make her understand. Pointing to the west he asked, “Have you ever noticed how beautiful sunsets are after a storm?” She shook her head. “When the grey clouds part above the setting sun, you get a true rainbow of colors. The light bounces off the storm clouds, accenting the fact that the hard part has passed and a new beginning is coming.
“You have had your stormy weather with Darcy. Do you see what I am trying to say, Miss Elizabeth? I do not know exactly what happened between you, but I know that you did not favor him when he first proposed. Perhaps these storms have left scars on the landscape.
“But storms provide several things Mother Earth cannot live without. Storms prune the landscape. Whatever is too weak to survive—a tree that is not well-rooted, or a river bank without plant growth—is washed away and deposited where it is needed, bringing fresh minerals and energy to that new area.
“And storms provide rain, or the tears of life. Where rain is, there will be new life. Without a storm’s moisture, there can be no growth. Without growth, our lives would wither away and be meaningless. So you see, those tears you shed are proof that you are growing. And every storm brings a promise: after the storm comes a rainbow or a parting of the clouds at the least. That promise is one that is very important. A storm does not last forever.
“Perhaps what I am saying is that you may have had problems with Darcy in the past, but I think that storm is passing. In fact, I am sure of it. I think you already see the truth of what I am saying. Your hard feelings for Darcy are being pruned away. And those tears streaming down your face are only evidence of the potential for growth and healing. And those feelings you are feeling is the parting of the clouds, reminding you that things do not have to stay the way they were.
“There is great hope in the ever-challenging foe of change. It is important to have the storms. They bring growth and new life. But this storm does not have to last forever. Open your eyes, look, there is a break in the clouds. The sun will shine again. That is the promise of the storm.”
Elizabeth wiped at her eyes. She had been watching the sunset while listening very closely to the colonel. “But I do not love him. I should not have kissed him.”
“If that is the case, then I agree with you, you should not have kissed him. But love comes in all forms. The beginning may just be an element of respect. Do you at least respect Darcy?” She nodded. “Do you see how honest and loyal he is?” She nodded. “Do you see the depth and solid nature of his character?” She nodded. “What more is there?”
Finally, Elizabeth turned to the colonel. “Love! The kind of love that makes you want to be with him at all times. The kind of love that burns like a fever when he touches you. The kind of love that makes you blind to all his imperfections. The kind of love that can never be reproduced or deflected. That is the kind of love I want in my marriage. And I do not love Mr. Darcy like that.”
“Perhaps not yet. Give it some time.”
“No, you do not understand. I do not want to love him like that. I am not ready to love him like that. I want to be ready for it when it happens, but more than anything, I want that kind of love to be mutual. I am not sure Mr. Darcy’s infatuation with me qualifies as the kind of love I am looking for.”
Colonel Fitzwilliam laughed out loud. He put his fist up to his mouth and stifled it. “Forgive me. I believe we differ in opinions on that matter. I have never seen a man more deeply in love or more persistent in his pursuit.” He let out another laugh. “I would say his love for you cannot be reproduced, except multiple times a day, every day. Would you not say that is a little persistent? Consistent? Resistant to deflection? No, you are wrong, Miss Elizabeth. Darcy’s love for you is much deeper than an infatuation. You are simply unbalanced in your understanding of it.”
Jeanna Ellsworth Lake
Hey Lady Publications
and no, I do not know if I will keep Lake in my name . . .