"Your task is not to seek for love but to seek and find all the barriers that you have built against it." ~Rumi
A year or so ago I found myself feeling that something was sorely missing in my life. That what I was longing for was to fall in love.
And I didn't mean falling in love with another person. I'm more than happy with my marriage and am blessed to feel in love with my husband every day.
What I had lost was a sense of being in love with life itself. And not just in some abstract generic sense. But to be in love with my own day to day experience.
Externally things were good in so many ways. I knew that my life was enviable even, to the outside observer. But I just wasn't feeling the goodness.
And it was no mystery to me why that was so.
The previous ten years had been filled with a variety of stressors. A roller coaster struggle with menopause that left me drained and depleted. Cataract surgery at the ripe young age of 53. Losing my mother, buying our house, the joys and hassles that come with building a business, providing emotional support to my brother and his family as his wife slowly deteriorated and eventually died from the nightmare of ALS.
Loss. Change. Pressures of various sorts. Even when it was positive it was still stressful stuff.
And something inside of me had just gotten tired. Worn down and kind of worn out.
It was an understatement to say that I wasn't exactly thrilled with my lackluster mojo. What I really hankered after was a greater sense of sparkiness and magic. I wanted to experience more joy. More heartfelt exuberance. More wonder and awe.
I also knew that what I didn't need was some thing to fall in love with. I didn't need a new car or a vacation to Italy, even though those things would be really, really nice.
I didn't need or want to add anything external. I had a pretty good sense that as they say in AA , this was an "inside job."
Of course, it took me awhile to grant myself permission to honor this desire. I mean come on... Sparkiness? Magic? Wonder and awe?
Who was I kidding? I'm a grown-up for crying out loud. I know the score. Common wisdom is that we forfeit our connection to those more blissful states of being when we take our irrevocable steps into the adult world. So who was I to think that it was reasonable or realistic to want all that again?
But this desire just wouldn't let go of me. It was always in the background, popping it's head up from time to time to let me know that it was still there. And I mostly tried to ignore it.
I should have known better than to think that something so hungry and relentless was simply going to just disappear because I didn't know how to embrace it.
Because of course, it was constantly on the lookout for some means to reopen that door to that long ago remembered sense of enchantment.
I eventually and somewhat inexplicably found my way into a modern day medicine woman's living room and began a shamanic spiritual practice with her as my guide, not realizing at the time that this work was going to give me the key to that seemingly locked door.
Through her guidance I was able to open to a direct experience of spirit more deeply than I ever thought possible. But this practice that I have chosen has one major and serious drawback. It comes at a price. And that price is a need to surrender... over and over again.
Which I wrote about in my last blog post as NOT being one of my favorite activities.
Through that continued practice of surrender I found myself softening some of those hard and dried up places inside of my heart and psyche.
And through an even MORE continued practice of surrender my life has become incredibly sweet.
I am also learning that surrender is not a partial thing. It's pretty much all or nothing. It's kind of like how you can never be just a "little bit pregnant."
The big surprise is that I did get what I asked for and now I am falling in love with everything in my life. And I do mean everything. Even the things I don't particularly like. Which is totally and completely weird.
It's not that I don't regularly feel gratitude for my life. Because I do, I do!! But that gratitude has always been reserved for those things that I think of as beneficial and positive.
It's a total no brainer to be continually thankful for my amazingly loving and creative husband and my work in the world as an intuitive painting teacher and guide. I can easily celebrate my many wondrous friends and my beautiful and colorful home and the fact that I can both be of service AND make money doing something that has such resonance and meaning for me.
But one day, as I continued to explore this completely altered state of openness and vulnerability to the true loveliness that is my life , I felt a twinge of sciatic pain in my leg... and thought ... oh my goodness, but I love that too. That too is part of my experience here on this planet.
And in that moment at least, that experience of pain that I usually shrink from or wish were gone, became something that I was able to cherish. Of course, it WAS only a twinge. I haven't been tested yet by any serious pain while in this state!!
As I stepped into this place of such tenderness in relationship to myself and to the world I had another realization about why I wasn't allowing myself to be more open to ALL of my life.
And it had nothing to do with being burnt out or stressed.
What I began to see with greater clarity was that experiencing my life .... and LIFE period ... as precious also meant I was more in touch with the inevitability of loss.
There is that moment to moment, day to day experience of loss as things continually rise and fall, die and are reborn, morph and change.
And as I get older, It's becoming more clearly apparent that it will ALL have to go away at some point. Sure as shit ( as my beloved grandmother used to say) I am someday going to lose this life that I now absolutely adore. This life that will never be again.
Staying closed to your life and not surrendering to the love and magic that continually surrounds you gives you a weird feeling of protection from that ultimate reality of loss.
But it's a false economy.
Because you ARE going to lose it all anyway.
There is no protection.
Only the choice to be open.. or closed.
And at least for now... no matter crazy it might seem at times or how much it might scare me... I'm doing the best I can to stay on the side of open.