Sunday, February 4, 2018

Thoughts on Loving

Recently, I finished a rather thought provoking, inspiring book.  While some parts of the book were meh or just didn't speak to me personally on a deeper level, several other parts I found to be quite poignant, moving and insightful.  The book, titled "Something More," focuses on helping to bring forth your very best self, and usher you forward into what will be your best life via brave and purposeful living.

Some random excerpts (all of which are on varying and different topics) which I found to be moving, meaningful and relevant.  I imagine each of you will find at least a few of these passages, if not several, equally as inspiring and thought provoking.

--As the Irish poet W.B. Yeats once told an admirer of his work, "If what I say resonates with you, its merely because we are both branches of the same tree."  Thus, part of the magic of writing books.  Or really, just writing in general and those who read said persons writing.  "Writers allow us to enter imaginatively into someone else's life.  And when we do that, we learn to sympathize with other people.  But the real surprise is that we also learn truths about ourselves, about our own lives, that somehow we hadn't been able to see before."

--Your own personal passions communicate with you through emotional touchstones- those eccentricities that give expression to your essence and trigger what Emily Dickinson called "the ecstatic experience."  What excites us, or moves us to tears, what makes the blood rush to our heads, our hearts skip a beat, our knees shaky, and our souls sigh?  Our authenticity is hidden in the small details of our daily rounds.  Within home, family, work, pleasures, our closest friends or person with whom we are in love. 
We think that its the big moments that define our lives- the wedding, the baby, the new house, the dream job.  But really, these big moments of happiness are just the punctuation marks to our whole personal sagas.  The narrative is, instead, written every day in the small, the simple, and the common.  In your tiny choices, these tiny changes.  The minute details.

--Tiny choices, day in and day out, shape your destiny.  Just as much as deciding to run away to be an elephant girl/boy with the circus rather than turning 50.  "True life is lived when tiny choices are made," Leo Tolstoy believed.  "Tiny choices mean tiny changes.  But it is only with infinitesimal change, changes so small no one else even realizes you're making them, that you have any hope for transformation."

-- Consider for a moment that there are only three ways to change the trajectory of our lives for better or worse: crisis, chance, and choice.  You may not realize it but at this very moment, your life, it doesn't matter who you are, where you are, is a direct result of the choices you made once upon a time.  Thirty minutes, or thirty years ago.

And further, our choices can be conscious or unconscious.  Conscious choice is creative, its made with intent, and its the heart of authenticity.  Unconscious choice is how we end up living other peoples lives.

--"Don't be afraid that your life will end.  Be afraid that it will never really begin."  (Referring to people who perpetually put things off...who focus on the wrong things and promise themselves they will turn towards the right ones "eventually"...those who let time slip away...etc).

--Many of us settle for something less than love, even in our most intimate relationships.  Most of us know couples who either outright dislike each other, or are just terrible together, and yet who stay together.  If its true that sometimes we marry for the wrong reasons, we convince ourselves to stay for even worse ones.  We stay to be kind. We stay for the kids.  We stay for the reason of shared history and comfort.  We stay because we think we cant afford to leave and wont calculate the psychic/emotional cost of remaining (which is likely to be far greater).  We stay because we put out loyalty to others, above loyalty to our own truth.

We stay because we are genuinely good and decent people.  Good people do not walk out on relationships that are congenial enough to get through a dinner party, family gatherings, ski vacations with friends, weekends at the beach, and serviceable sex.

We stay because we are afraid to believe in true love.  Because we don't believe we will ever find the love of our loves.  And you know what?  We are absolutely right, that if we stay where we aren't supposed to be, that of course we will never find such.

--Additionally, there are certainly many instances in which relationships can be turned around through professional help.  But.  When someone isn't right for you, for either basic or exceedingly complex and mysterious reasons, you cannot force a reconciliation.  Thus, if a couple who is mismatched stays together to share mortgage payments, the food bill, the car, pets, etc, that's their choice, but relationships of convenience will never bring joy.  The couple instead becomes locked into a dreary life of not-so-quiet desperation.

--When you consider that you only have so much time to experience the joy that can be shared by two people who deeply love and respect each other, you must choose wisely.  Even when it may mean making a decision to leave something that no longer fits.

--We know within our hearts when we are supposed to move on or out of a situation that is stunting our soul growth (and this doesn't just have to be a person or relationship, it can also be a situation, life phase, behavior or experience) and we consciously refuse to do so because the uncharted terror of choice and change scares us, a celestial clock starts ticking.  If you are getting strong internal direction to let go of something, then do it.  You can run from such a truth for a long time, but you cant really hide from it.  The truth will remain there, whispering in the background until you listen.

--Most of us would love to think that our life journey is linear, but actually, we move along our trajectory instead, stumbling in fits and starts, on our way to authenticity.

--A bad man or woman is any person who repeatedly (as in, more than twice) behaves badly toward you or makes you feel bad, either while in their company or without them.  Though especially when with them.  You will recognize the scoundrel because the odor of something sweetly rotten lingers in their wake.

--Within life, it is the small things that not only help us find joy but, that when taken one by one, can be truly savoured.  Things like planting Japanese poppies, or vegetables in your garden.  Drinking very good tea out of a thin china cup with a lovely print along its glass.  Eating a hot, buttered muffin.  Rereading a love letter from someone you have positive feelings for.  A long hug from a person you love.  Your favorite food for lunch.  An unexpected email from someone special.  Small things savoured, even if you have to force yourself to focus on them, is how to become happy, even when you might feel sad.

--"It is the denial of death that is partially responsible for people living empty, purposeless, mislead lives.  For when you live as if you'll live forever, it becomes too easy to postpone the things you know that you must do."

--Did you know that, of all human activities, making love is the only one that engages and excites all our senses simultaneously; sight, taste, smell, hearing, touch and intuition.  Sex only uses five though.  Guess which one is missing.

--Even at our best, after a great nights sleep, we cannot take in even half of what's happening around us.  George Eliot believed that "if we had keen vision and feeling for all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing grass grow and the squirrels heart beat, and we should die of the roar which lies on the other side of silence.  As it is, the quickest of us walks about well wadded with stupidity."

--Wild animals relay on their intuition to stay alive, we need to hone ours to thrive.  "It is only by following your deepest instinct that you can lead a rich life, and if you let your fear of consequence prevent you from following your deepest instinct, then your life will be safe, expedient, and thin."

--And, one of my favorite of the passages: We are born to love certain souls into full being, unconditionally.  And certain souls are born to love us in the same way.  Some we give birth to, others we meet on the playground, at a workshop, in the office, on a blind date, you name it.  We can meet these rare few anywhere.  And even further, we turn towards some, and we turn away from others.  Our choice- to walk towards or turn away from- becomes our destiny, our deeply personal love story.

--And, another favorite: The psychologist Carl Jung said, "the meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed."

Except, I would change the wording to "He or she walked into my heart as though they belonged there, took down my walls, and lit my soul on fire."

--How do you know when someone you love is your soul mate?  I mean, if you're in love, they are bound to be, right?  Not necessarily.  There are a lot of people we can be happy with, but these relationships don't feel as if there is an inevitability to them.  With soul mates, the feeling of inevitability and a deeply abiding, resonating fit is potent.  This is often difficult to acknowledge because acknowledging this inevitability makes you vulnerable in ways you never knew existed.  Finding your soul mate often sends your world into an initial tizzy, because it can mean the rejection of some of the systems and relationships you have come to count on to give your life strength, stability and structure.  I don't think there is a more frightening feeling in the world than the moment before surrendering to ones destiny when it involves another.

For a full article on soul mates, as in, what exactly makes someone a soul mate or not?  And what does this type of connection with another person feel like?  Here is a blog entry I wrote detailing such almost exactly on year ago.  On Valentines day, 2017 to be exact.

--And lastly, perhaps this is what friendship gives us.  The real mirror to your life and soul is your true friend, which can either be a romantic, platonic or familial connection.  A friend helps you glimpse who you really are, both your strengths and areas where growth might occur, and what you are doing here.

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