For the first time in years The Strokes were back on stage as a full band headlining the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Thousands of people swarmed us singing and dancing, enamored in the band’s reunion. We sat on the grass in the middle of it all.
“I’m almost 30 and I still don’t know what love is,” you tell me. “But this, this is what love is supposed to feel like: the ease and simplicity of being around each other, the electricity between us. This is love.”
Even at a music festival with millions of things happening all around us, all I see is you.
“You’re going to graduate and go on to do amazing things. I wish I could be the man in your life, but if not me, it’s going to be someone better than me.” You start to cry. I start to cry. The Strokes start to sing, “Last Nite,” and we spring up off the ground to sing, “I ain’t ever gonna understand…”
This is a part of the Choosing Vulnerability series. Read more about it here.
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Over the last few months I’ve been asking most people I interact with the same question. I’ve been asking people from all different backgrounds, spiritual and political beliefs, lifestyles and age ranges (mostly 20s to 70s).
Some people have had the same exact response: “We travel in soul tribes and switch roles throughout lifetimes i.e. mother and daughter, husband and wife, romantic partners, best friends. Certain people have been in our lives multiple lifetimes. We keep reconnecting in order to grow and learn lessons with and from that person.” Others have said that it’s a recognition and reflection of ourselves. And almost everyone has seen it as an important catalyst for growth.
What is it that draws us to some people and not to others? Why does a connection with someone sometimes affect us so deeply? And I just can’t help it, I’ve been dying to know: what does it all mean? Is it related to love? Is it necessary for love?
Sometimes I meet people and I feel like I’ve known them for years after only spending a few hours with them. Sometimes all of our interests, ideas, and words are in sync. There’s an undeniable buzz of electricity between us. I like to refer to this as the “Je ne sais quoi” connection, French for ‘a quality that cannot be described.’
I have grown and experienced many different things, places, countries, people and connections since that moment the Strokes were playing at Coachella. Yet I can still recount that moment and other moments Matt and I shared vividly. I’ve felt that ease and pull towards other people, but due to other circumstances, the relationships were temporary and fleeting.
People walk into our lives, teach us lessons about ourselves, the world, how we handle certain situations, and then they leave. I really do value these kinds of connections and the magic in the fleetingness (see my post ‘The Delicate Dance Between Holding on and Letting Go.’), but what if I want a love like that that’ll stay? A romantic love that will outlast the beautiful, burning, fire light moment.
Are those bright moments only meant to last for a flash and then dissipate? Is that love? What is that? When you’re completely in sync with someone by gazing in their eyes, seeing and being seen, feeling everything all at once, opening, embracing the connection and the spark. I don’t feel that connection with everyone. There are definitely ones that burn brighter.
“Are we like stars in the sky? Burn for a moment than darkened?
Out of a circle of flames, a million new stars will awaken.”
Some people I asked the ‘je ne sais quoi’ question to said that when we connect to others like that, it’s because we’re seeing a reflection of ourselves, a recognition of our own self (spirit) in another. We find admirable qualities in that person that we want to exude as well. When I think of the times I’ve felt this connection, romantic or not, it was with someone I respected and admired. They possessed certain qualities that I hoped to have in myself.
Seven years ago I met someone at a music festival who I’ve never been able to stop thinking about. When we first met he was radiant. He was friendly to everyone, constantly smiling, intelligent, well-traveled. People lit up when he was around. He’s been an inspiration, a mentor on my path.
We’ve spent some time together outside of the festival, but most of our interactions have been for four days every summer at the festival. Even though we never got a chance to fully know each other, he brought something inside of me to life.
I barely know him when it comes down to it, yet from the start I’ve felt like I’ve known him all along. We didn’t get a chance to know each other so I filled in the empty space. I made everything up. The potential. It’s always the potential when I think of him. I can still vividly remember moments of our encounters, when I’ve dated guys, been in actual relationships with people for years and can’t remember anything at all.
Finally this past summer, after seven Grassroots’ of confusion and longing, I finally realized the power of our friendship and that he was put into my life for multiple reasons: to help me grow (isn’t everything?), to show me that I need to accept people for who they are and not for who I want them to be, and to not idealize or romanticize people. Yet he keeps coming back up in my life in one way or another. This part drives me crazy. Every time I feel like I’m making progress or beginning to understand, he comes back up. ‘The dance with the devil under the pale moonlight,’ a traveling gyspy I met called it.
After all these years, connections, confusions, and questions, I do feel like I have some sense of understanding. Some sense of understanding and more questions. Love is what connects us to source. Love is everywhere, in everything. Each person I meet and every interaction I have is a chance for me to grow, for me to deepen my connection to source and myself by falling in love with myself, and for me to heal. Only from a place of self-love and self-respect can I positively impact others.
I don’t need to do anything when I feel the ‘je ne sais quoi’ connection other than to acknowledge and appreciate it. Let the joy be joy. Let the pain be pain. Let the lesson be the lesson. Yet it’s always the same lesson—why do I keep learning the same lesson? When will I be free of the lesson? Maybe we are always free of the lesson. Maybe that’s the lesson: being free of the lesson. Being free of the fear of fleetingness and just being.