I am not writing this or anything that I write to help anyone. If that happens then so be it but that is not my intention. Even if the words I write help someone, it won't actually be about me but rather the person who interacts with whatever I share and allows it to remind their genius of it's own power and completeness... in that way we rarely really help anyone. This is not a self help blog, it's a self saving blog. I am trying this to see if it can help me save myself. And I am writing this in a time when I am indeed in need of saving myself with a new awareness that I am on the only one who can. The details of why and how I got to this point are distractions from the common human experience of struggle, loss and groundlessness. Feeling like nothing makes sense. And feeling like I have been hanging at the end of my rope for years longer than I would have ever imagined.
I listen to audiobooks. I don't read any more than I have to get by with work and life. But I have an affair with books. I call it an affair because I make time for them and even if I only have ten minutes, I get lost in the books for those ten minutes and it's a rush for me. I crave the next chapters and I my authors and characters and I wonder about them until I can get back to them. Right now it meeting some kind of emotional need for me to feel connected in a big, full, meaningful and omnipresent way that I can access almost anywhere.
Every time I listen, I get something. Which is what keeps bringing me back to the books. Sometimes it's a little nugget and sometimes it feels like a break through concept (though I am increasingly more and more cautious of, I'll explain later). Sometimes it's a feeling of interacting with a great teacher and their teachings and it leaves me feeling connected to them. All of these are positive experiences for me. They remind me of the light in the world and put wind in my sails, even if it's just enough to get me to the next check point these little moments of insight, inspiration and community with the world around me through these books are keeping me alive right now. So I want to keep track of them. And that is why I am doing this.
Right now I am reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I really love it and highly recommend it to people who need or want to keep their feet on the ground or at least close to it but have an itch to run, jump and dance through it all. It's like a realist guide to living extraordinarily. Today I listened to the chapter Does it love you? which tells the story of a woman who teaches young fervent environmentalists at Syracuse University.
She begins every course with the question, "Do you love nature?", to which every hands goes up. Then she asks, "Does it love you?" Apparently, every hand drops.
The professor then points out that this is a problem.
You cannot love something that you are not in a relationship with. Love requires exchange. A belief that you are worthy of being with the other and there is a place for your presence when you are together that adds to the goodness in a space you share. It's that you are actively co-creating with the object of your affection; not just observing in awe or trying to please it. Without that relationship and presence of yourself in it - the experience of simply pouring affection or energy of any kind onto someone or something is more an experience of adoration rather than love. We adore people and things from whom we expect nothing of and have no exchanges with. But we love people with whom we share exchanges with and with whom their is a balance of giving and getting.
The problem the professor speaks of is about how the students believe that humans do nothing but consume and destroy the earth. She believes that if we believe that and hold to the stance that we are unworthy and don't see how the earth loves you back then you'll be hard pressed to love it well and be in a healthy relationship with it.
This has a lot of parallels for me. It feels so much safer and more natural to adore and appreciate from a distance rather than argue with my shame gremlins and take the risk of being whole, transparent and give away precious parts of my soul without knowing how it will be received or if it will be returned by the one I love. That is scary.
So today I am asking myself the question, Does it love you? My it is a more broad concept of a spiritual universe I like to picture and even more simply, just life itself. Do I believe life loves me? The realist in me thinks there is no way to know if life really loves me...waiting for a message in the sky or visit from some spiritual source is not something I can count on. And if I were to just choose to believe that, who could prove me wrong? What harm could it do?
I think none.
So, it has been decided. Life loves me.
Today I do not really believe that in my core but I am going to try to. I am going to make a sincere effort. In fact, I will write it on my hand. That's solid. Or perhaps it's just as solid as I can be today.