How can we truly connect to ourselves? To understand what it is that we hold in our hearts and in our soul? Is it possible that we could spend our whole life not knowing what it is that we really desire?
When you find yourself right in the middle of a storm and you can’t find a way to breathe, you have to find a way to connect to yourself in order to make your way out. This is what grief teaches us. But what happens after the storm?
In ‘Kafka on the Shore’, Huruki Murakami wrote:
And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.
A friend sent me a newsletter today that asked what happens when you start to outgrow the person you made for yourself. How do you find yourself, define yourself, consider yourself, when you feel like you are in a state of constant change?
I’ve spent a lot of time on ‘me’ over the last few years. It may have been selfish at times, but it was necessary. It was the only way that I survived through the storm.
To truly and deeply connect to ourselves requires patience. The late poet Mary Oliver said that ‘patience comes to the bones before it takes root in the heart as another good idea.’ It also requires courage and trust. To not fear what you will find or how you will feel, to let go of all judgement (your own and others) and to trust your feelings - why they are there and what they are trying to teach you. And to let them wash over you as and when they need to.
On the courage to be yourself, E.E. Cummings wrote:
Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.
To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, To make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
In Kahlil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’, he is asked by a man to speak of self-knowledge. He says:
Your hearts know in silence the secrets of the days and the nights. But your ears thirst for the sound of your heart’s knowledge. You would know in words that which you have always known in thought.
I love the moment of realisation that Kahlil Gibran speaks about - ‘you would know in words that which you have always known in thought.’ There is a beautiful poem by Derek Walcott, ‘From Love After Love’, which also speaks of this moment. I will end with these verses, and with hope:
The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
Sit. Feast on your life.