” … i love you like a starfish loves the salty water, like a selfish daughter.” — a fine frenzy, bomb in a birdcage, “swan song“
“broadly speaking, starfish are opportunistic feeders … most species are generalist predators, eating mollusks such as clams, oysters, some snails, or any other animal too slow to evade the attack.” — wikipedia
i had a dream the other night (maybe it was last night — all my dreams kind of run together) that you walked into my house and said hello, or “hey,” more likely.
i looked up, surprised, and got that nervous sensation that comes with meeting the unexpected and having to make conversation with it.
i can’t be nervous all my life! really, that’s getting ridiculous. i don’t want to love people, selfishly, like a starfish, for what they can give me or how they make me feel.
“for, though henry was now sincerely attached to her, though he felt and delighted in all the excellencies of her character and truly loved her society, i must confess that his affection originated in nothing better than gratitude, or, in other words, that a persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought. it is a new circumstance in romance, i acknowledge, and dreadfully derogatory of a heroine’s dignity, but if it be as new in common life, the credit of a wild imagination will at least be all my own.” — jane austen, “northanger abbey“
this example from northanger abbey (which, by the way, is the only fault i have with the book) refers to romantic love, but it’s applicable to the phileo/agape love we’re supposed to have for everybody. God’s love. Christ’s love. love that would give up everything to buy its worst enemy out of slavery and totally deserving death.
but we like being freaking starfish, those “opportunistic feeders” who devour anything too slow to get away.
okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch. but seriously. we love attention. i love attention. i like it when someone says something nice about something i’ve done, or comes up and talks to me first instead of making me ask the questions. i don’t initiate conversations. (i’m learning how to do this, but it’s taking a while. and i’m not there yet.) i don’t champ on the bait of a dangling conversation hook (usually that would mean i’m a smart regular fish, but in this case it makes me a wily, cold starfish). the reason i don’t is because i don’t care enough about the other person to get over myself and my fear of rejection/disapproval/disappointment — or just my utter self-centeredness — and open my mouth.
what would happen, do you think, if we went around with big signs on our foreheads that said “i’m not talking to you because i don’t care enough about you to bother”? it would be like being able to read someone’s mind, in a way.
i know it’s considered cute in our culture right now to be self-absorbed. just think of all those shirts for little kids you see that say “actually, it is all about me.” i hate those. but we like thinking we’re the center of the universe, don’t we? thank Goodness we’re wrong.
“i perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. that which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.” — ecclesiastes 3:14-15
man is not the ultimate; God is the Beginning, and the End. He is before the beginning and will be after the end of all things. He gave Himself to rescue the selfish from themselves. He is the reason we love; He is the reason we can love. He is love.
He created starfish, which are beautiful things. and He created everything, i think, to teach us something about Him and about ourselves before Him.
i don’t know what will happen when you walk into my house in reality, if you ever do. i don’t know if your face will wear that faintly tired, long-suffering look i seem to receive so much, and probably deserve. but i know i want to love you not with little fluffy feelings i could drum up based on how you could respond to my attempts at wit, but with a love that has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with who you were made to be.