BY LISA GROVES
When I was six years old I deliberately dropped my brand new baby doll into a long-abandoned well in my parents' backyard. It was the same year I made a lavender Christmas tree ornament with the sentiment, "I like alone."
When I was twenty-six, an old, old friend, smoking furiously and with unqualified command calmly informed me that it was impossible to love another person unconditionally. If it were possible, she reasoned, if we indeed could love without condition, we would love every person we encountered, and to the same degree.
I blew a kiss through her quarantine, and set out to find the cure for condition.
She fell in my lap. Repeatedly.
Her name was Madeline, a sticky newborn who futilely tried to balance herself with fistfuls of my hair. She was imposing and soulful and beyond my control and I instantly knew she was "Mad."
Two words of wisdom from a girl who could not yet speak one: divine connection.
Not the sort of connection borne of scrutiny. Not that sort at all. There was no academic analysis, no lab to dissect condition. Rather a connection so elemental, so unmodified, divine origin could be safely presumed.
Like a litmus test for soul mates.
Now, to yield to this connection tethers us deeply. Child, lover, friend, no matter -- acknowledging any relationship as divine connection creates obligation, it colors escape.
I am an itinerant wife and mother. I am the most well when I am, well, alone.
And in my heart of hearts, I am a nomad. But a nomad who has reached understanding. Yes, it is not connection that drives us mad; we are driven mad by our resistance to it.
Madeline's mama, shouting no Mad, no Mad! -- a battle cry of sorts -- all to remain a nomad.
And yet, despite my flag, I lay quietly in bed and slowly take inventory. Now that I'm approaching thirty-six, I know more, therefore I no more.
Unconditional, divine connection defies reason, rhyme and requirement.
It is unconcerned with the harvest.
And yes, sometimes it even defies the self.
Recently, my buddy Nate offered this humbling explanation for the assent: "Love, the kind given to one person over the course of a lifetime, is borne of the desire to believe in something greater than oneself."
What a mad, Mad notion.
Lisa Groves is a recovering attorney, an author, yoga teacher, president of I've Been Meaning to Write, LLC, a Scottsdale-based marketing firm, and Madeline Mary's Mom. The above essay is excerpted from Lisa's book Off the Beaten Path, (c) 2011, her most recent work of nonfiction and journey through abuse recovery. For orders, to view additional excerpts, or for a righteous vegan lemon bar recipe, contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.meaningtowrite.com.