“I love you means . . . that I surround you with the feeling that allows you . . . to be everything you really are as a human being at that moment. When my love is fullest, you are most fully you . . . which is the very most I could ever ask or expect.” – Thomas Patrick Malone M.D. The Art of Intimacy
The last summer gathering I attended was a celebration of love and possibility at the Muse Mansion in Portland, OR. The event was a launch party to raise money for a new film in the making: If.I Love You, by my daughter Maria Allred.
A golden crescent moon slid through the deep blue sky, like a button passing through a button hole. Three-story trees, their lower branches dripping in twinkle lights, encircled a huge lawn laden with tables of food and beverage. A screen was set up for the showing of the film proposal on KICKSTARTER.
Guests from all age groups and many walks of life mingled in conversation, danced, played chess, and contributed to the film at donation stations. After the film proposal was shown, Maria fire-danced—an amazing talent she learned when she was a yoga student at an ashram in India. As she spun her fire balls in the dark night, a sense of wonder and awe passed through the crowd and was met with ooohhs and ahhhhs.
Maria’s first ‘practice’ film effort was launched when she was age nine, and was cleaning the bathroom on roller skates. As she cleaned she narrated the process to her audience via the bathroom mirror, welcoming them in a serious voice to the ‘Cleaning with Maria Show.’ Now she is receiving backing and support for her film work from a well-known New York producer, and an international entrepreneur.
Her exploration of love is of deep interest to me and has led to thoughtful and poignant reflection about her life so far and what she is now creating.
She was a shy and sweet child in her earliest years, her thumb often in her mouth. She was willing to help, and was careful about being a burden in our big family. But her spunk and drive emerged with force and intensity in grade school when dreams of the film industry first began to grow as she envisioned a future career as an actress. And dramatic she was!
She was also the girl who befriended the child who was alone or different; a popular babysitter who did activities with the children and made memories that some of them as young adults still remember and cherish. Wherever she was she helped make life bigger and better!
During her teen years she moved into a fierce rebellion, angrily pushing against us as parents and turning her back on convention. She was 14 and I was 40 and our clash was ferocious. We lived our own version of ‘If.I Love You.’ She taught me volumes about the over-controlling parts of my nature. Her free spirit and desire to explore beyond the confines of our own home and culture showed me how infinite the world is and how valuable her curiosity was in discovering herself according to her own dictates.
Despite our difficulties, I adored her and was learning how complicated love can be. More than one night I went to sleep questioning myself, her, and life as a mother.
Off she went, at an early age, to the San Juan Islands where she lived in a cabin in the woods alone while working as a housekeeper at The Doe Bay Resort. It was at a Rainbow Gathering in Missouri that she began to learn yoga, met her first love, and saw her first fireflies. Eventually her quest took her to India where she lived in an Ashram and became a certified yoga instructor. That is also where she learned how to fire dance. . . . As I watched her dance at The Muse Mansion party I was reminded that it was on this daughter’s wings that I was borne to places of mystery and wonder. I am still mesmerized by her relationship with fire and the sound of her fireballs spinning around her body. To see a video she shot and fire-danced in, featuring extreme urban firedancing go here: http://vimeo.com/31180841
College came later for her, but none too early. She embraced her art and her passion, got ‘A’s’ in all of her classes, and caught the eye of a producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting who mentored her. She has since had her work shown on OPB shows: Oregon Lens and Oregon Art Beat, as well as screened at a number of local Portland festivals.
If.I love You, of course is exploratory. Through a collection of interwoven short vignettes and a multiplicity of diverse perspectives, it illustrates not just the romance of love, but the complication and complexity of love. It examines “love” from an investigative stance and is rooted in the notion that all relationships reflect the quality of our relationship with self.
As I watched all the people at the party who love Maria and whose lives she has touched, I was thankful for love’s elasticity—how it can stretch and grow and take on new form. I realized a long time ago, to my surprise, that Maria, and her five sisters, have been my teachers!
Mother love has been revolutionary for me. One of the most important things I have learned from my daughters is the ability to love people for who they are, right where they are at. It took a long time and grew out of the way they each challenged me as individuals and personalities in their own right.
“When we commit to true love,” as Bell Hooks writes in All About Love, “we are committed to being changed, to being acted upon by the beloved(s) in a way that enables us to be more fully self-actualized.” This is the journey we have been on in our family and its realization has been born in a cocoon of both love and conflict, problems and possibility.
Maria is now in her process of having a dream she has nurtured for a long time become actualized. And has her mother I can say, “There are no ‘ifs’ about it, Maria, I love you!”
To learn more and donate go here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/if-iloveyou/if-i-love-you-0