Urgency, Not Haste

MANDY KAMPEN


In the spring of 2013, I lost my friend Vin, a beautiful local artist married to a woman who had been like family to me since childhood. All these years later, tears still fill up at the mention of his name and the heavy lump in my chest is always quick to surface when I think of how much we all lost when he passed.

I had the privilege of helping with the memorial events, and that week running from one task to another I found myself lost in a grief fog at a stop light. The lights moved from red to green to yellow and red again without me budging. The same CD that had been playing in my car for months had faded into background noise, but out of nowhere a phrase flung itself into my consciousness and woke me up.

I will love with urgency but not with haste.

The line carried megatons of meaning in that moment, thinking of my friend who was gone and the impact he’d had on so many people. He made people feel seen, and beautiful, and important, and worthwhile. You never felt more like the best version of yourself than when you were with him.

These words, “I will love with urgency not with haste,” have been reverberating in my soul since that day. The context of the entire song is one of hope for a future love of intimacy, vulnerability, freedom, and acceptance. My reality for most of my life was living with such fear —of rejection, abandonment, failure, or just being found boring or weird—that I could easily drown in the regret of lost opportunities, broken relationships, missed opportunities, and general screw-ups.

Or, or...

I could learn from the legacy of my friend. Spend my life healing and loving and accepting and breathing and incarnating and kindness rather than in this constant fear of rejection and narcissistic self deprecation. Learn to be present with others and present in my own life, to be exhausted not from struggling against the world, but from engaging it with all my faculties. I want to have given the gift of presence to the people I encounter. Because I never expected to have so little time with my friend, thought there were years ahead of us. And I’ve rushed through too many conversations, too many chances for connection because I was self-conscious and afraid.

The time is urgent, but haste is destructive.

The stories behind the rest of my tattoos are rooted in ancient history, stories written over the course of many years or about events that occurred a long time ago. This one is different. The story of this tattoo began in March of 2013 and is still very much being written. I do feel an urgency to learn to be present and take risks on people. I feel an almost desperate need to remember that feeling of regret that clouded my vision during my friend’s funeral so that I never, ever have to feel it again.

I had in mind a very plain, front-facing, two-dimensional red guitar with a few flowers around it and the lyrics “love with urgency not with haste” framing it. Flowers to symbolize beauty that can only be experienced in the moment, beauty that won’t last forever but is vibrant and fragrant here and now.

Like it has for most people, music has bound up my wounds, has set me free, has paved the road to healing from heartbreak, has given voice to screams of rage and shouts of joy I couldn’t muster on my own. From my first Beach Boys cassette to the Cornerstone Mag tent, music has connected me to both the spiritual and material worlds. Before I knew God, I knew the power of her voice through the poetry and sounds of music. I contend that the most beautiful sound in the world is that of an acoustic guitar backed by the crackle of a fire under a clear night sky.

As always, my artist was faithful to the heart of what I had in mind, even though I was terrible at describing it. The result was much more traditional and MUCH larger than I had expected. But other than swapping out the electric guitar in his original design for a red acoustic, what he rendered is absolutely perfect.

This isn’t a tribute tattoo to my friend, though I had considered adding something specific to him in the design. It is a tribute to the kind of life he lived, one that seems to really impact people, to matter. I want to do more than never forget; I want to always remember. The beauty of life is presence, risk, hope—the melody of scandalous love that lingers long after we’re gone.


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Mandy Kampen loves fantasy, science fiction, and acoustic music. She is a latecomer to comics and board gaming, but she's quickly catching on. She enjoys cool weather, coffee, and YouTube art tutorials, but her favorite way to spend time is with friends, new or old. She's a life-long learner, particularly about spirituality; her current curiosities have led to an exploration of natural and mystical practices throughout history. She and her partner Angela have two cats they call "their boys," which will make you think they are human children - be aware of this when chatting with them.