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I had been seeing Stacy for a couple of months but had fallen headfirst in love. Stacy
lived in D.C., working for the Government Accounting Office while completing her college degree with a major in broadcast journalism. I had moved into Manhattan
to return to graduate school, thinking I would one day open a private psychotherapy
practice like the shrink I was going to at the time.

I longed for the weekends, when I would catch an Amtrak train bound for Washington.
Stacy and I would spend a whirlwind weekend in the love nest we created for our short
time together. On one of these weekend trips, I arrived early and made my way to Stacy’s apartment. I plopped my suitcase on the bed, made myself comfortable and
waited for her to get off of work.

On Stacy’s desk was a marbled notebook; it was open to the last page she’d been writing in. Though I don’t have a snooping instinct, I succumbed to curiosity: what
occupied Stacy’s attention in the privacy of her own thoughts? And so I found myself reading a few pages... something I didn’t feel good about, then or now. In retrospect,
I should have respected her privacy and lived with the questions.

But, on this Friday afternoon, I discovered something that burned a giant hole in my heart: Stacy recounted a night at a local comedy club, where she’d been enchanted
by a male comic who was young, funny and handsome. Within one short paragraph or two, I found myself devastated.

I remember panicking, too. Is she going to break up with me? Am I going to be abandoned at the side of the road? How will I be able to go on with my life?

When Stacy came home, I greeted her with a coolness that instantly signaled something was wrong. I refused to open up and we suffered through a strained evening together. I was aloof, distant, morose.

It wasn’t until the following morning, after an interminable, sleepless night, that I confessed what I had discovered in her absence. We were sitting at the foot of her bed, and I just started sobbing. I sobbed and sobbed and couldn’t stop.

I couldn’t articulate what was happening for me in the moment. I had no clue. Only later did I realize that I had fallen headlong into the abyss of impermanence--the Buddha’s profound insight into the nature of human existence: There is nothing to hold onto in life. We are all groundless, notwithstanding the security we are always seeking in every moment.

In that paroxysm of sorrow, fear and anguish over the prospect of losing Stacy to another man, I surrendered my love. Surrender doesn’t mean defeat; it means to give back to. Though it took me some years to integrate the experience, what I realized in my heart of hearts was that love is a gift; it comes with no warrantees whatsoever.
I had mistakenly believed that love governs with an iron fist; it closes around the beloved like a vice and protects one from any injury. I had to learn the hard way
that love, by its very nature, is delicate and vulnerable, even as it is strong and resilient.
Love contains its own security; there was no fortress in which to entomb Stacy to prevent her from falling in love with someone else.

And, so I returned to New York at the end of the weekend not knowing what would become of us. I lived with the uncertainty, but relieved, refreshed by a freedom that I had never known before. Surrender was the grace that had transformed fear into freedom. It has lasted the better part of the thirty-two years Stacy and I have been

Robert Epstein
El Cerrito, CA
11 December 2010


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