I’m in love. But then, I think I was born in love. I suspect you were, too.
When I met Ana, it felt like all my life I’d been beaming a signal out into the universe — and for the first time, someone had received the signal and sent back a reply.
It was like the moment the great stone door rolls aside when Ali Baba utters the correct password. The “Eureka!” as Archimedes realizes what it means that his bathtub has spilled over. The click! of the last key on the ring as it unlocks the door to the treasure vault. The perfect call-and-response of a ceremony known since before the dawn of time.
When I met Ana, it felt like I’d known her all my life, and had just been waiting for the right circumstances to fall into place so we could meet.
There is a wonderful plot device in that delightful Star Trek film, The Voyage Home. A massive object appears in space, sending out a signal that wreaks havoc, and it becomes clear that if it doesn’t get the response it’s looking for, the Earth itself may not survive. Kirk, Spock & Co. eventually realize that the return signal the thing is waiting for needs to come from a humpback whale — but they are now extinct. So they travel back in time, to the twentieth century, to find a couple of whales to bring back to the late twenty-third century.
Among other wonderful distinctions, this is the Star Trek movie with the most hilarious lines, mostly occasioned by the fish-out-of-water nature of Kirk’s team visiting the Earth of our time. (“Don’t tell me! You’re from outer space.” “No ma’am, I’m from Iowa. I just work in outer space.”)
But that beaming thing? That just-waiting-for-the-right-response thing? That was exactly how I felt meeting Ana.
And here’s where it gets a little spooky.
When I was a kid, I was in love for a time with a girl named Ruth. After that, I was in love for a time with a girl named Anne.
Fast forward: Ana and I met in our forties. Some time later, I learned a factoid about her early years: although as an adult she goes by the name “Ana,” through her childhood she went by the name on her birth certificate … which was Ruthann.
Cue Rod Serling, bongos, and that chromatic Twilight Zone theme song.
I was putting out that “Ruthann” signal before I could even walk. It just took four decades or so for it to come echoing back.
Here is the fascinating thing, for me: that happens these days, in ways big and little, all the time.
When I’m writing a book, I know I need a chapter to go a certain way, but don’t know how to say it. I beam out the signal … and wait. Kirk and Spock go to work. They time travel. Have adventures. Trade quips, get into fistfights, shoot off laser beams. Manage to escape from tight spots. And then the signal comes back.
The whales respond.
I find just the right sentence, as it falls onto the page. Or the right chapter concept. The right ending. “Ruthann” happens, and suddenly the book all fits together.
It has changed the way I write. It’s a matter of trust — trusting that if you send out an honest, heartfelt question, the right answer will come beaming back.
Here’s what I believe: that this doesn’t just work with life partners and book concepts. I think it works with everything.
“Love,” they say, “makes the world go round.” I think love is what makes things go click! and that all it takes is sending out the signal, and being open to the signal that comes beaming back.
As I said, I think you were born in love — with someone special, and with a life all your own, and all the various pieces of that life. And that the unfolding of years is the process of giving those signals you’ve broadcast out a chance to come beaming back at you.
All you have to do, is listen.
One more thing about that Star Trek story line: I love the fact that the two whales that Kirk and Spock adopt and bring back to their century are named “George” and “Gracie,” after that most wonderful of comedy couples, George Burns and Gracie Allen.
Talk about a love made in heaven.