Words to my future self
Over the last few days, I have felt a particular pull to reading all that I’ve posted for a contemplated life. As I read my words, there has been an emerging sense that these words were always intended for my future self - of course not knowing then that I would need them more now.
In one of Paulo Coelho’s books, a boy asked why we have to listen to our hearts. The answer: ‘Because, wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure.’ And the Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry gave us a very simple secret: ’It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.’ It’s obvious from a contemplated life that I’m fixated on the heart. Instead of asking ‘how are you’ I have learned to ask ‘how is your heart today?’
In one post I told you to learn to surrender and to trust. And to be patient. That all will unfold and reveal itself as and when it should.
In another post, I told you about the poem ‘Sweet Darkness’ by John O’Donohue. I said that it’s a reminder of all that we can connect to when we take the time to really draw inward, to be comfortable in that space and to be open to all that we can learn. That this ‘sweet’ darkness can be the wisest teacher in helping us understand what it is that revives us and who makes us feel most alive.
I also gave you these words by Ernest Hemingway very early on:
Life is unpredictable,
It changes with the seasons,
Even your coldest winter,
Happens for the best of reasons,
And though it feels eternal,
Like all you’ll ever do is freeze,
I promise spring is coming,
And with it, brand new leaves.
And then for a little while I went along with a theme of blooming and wrote about the lotus flower - how it is a symbol of strength amongst adversity because it can revive itself into activity after a long period of stasis. If we have closed ourselves off from the world, the lotus flower teaches us that we can too reopen ourselves up to all that the world has to show us. I reminded you of the Buddhist proverb that the lotus flower blooms must beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud. I said that how we each bloom will be different, and I promised you that you would get there. I also said that we can still bloom while we weep and smile at the same time, because that’s the magic of being alive.
I reflected on the meaning of kindness by sharing with you the poem by Naomi Shihab Nye:
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing
I said that to find a sense of peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise or trouble - it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in our hearts. I shared a mindfulness lesson from Christophe Andre - who said that in times of sadness we can stop and accept tiny snippets of happiness, even if they are brief, sad in themselves, incomplete, imperfect and fragmentary. His lesson: we must preserve our little moments of happiness, even in adversity - in fact, particularly in adversity. It is then that they are at their most touching, magnificent and indispensable.
These are just some of the things that I wrote for my future self. I haven’t finished reading them all yet.
I’ve shared my lessons of grief with you. Perhaps now I need to share some different lessons, perhaps I can call them lessons from a lotus flower? The author Ali Smith was interviewed by The Paris Review and she said:
What I discovered, though, writing it, is that work is trustworthy and loyal and underlies and overlies everything and can hold steady even as we ourselves are floating about in pieces, as if in airless, gravity-less space travel, around some phantom of what we formerly were or life formerly was.
I know from all my reading and living that extraordinary things happen on the edges—the changes happen, the rituals happen, the magic, for want of a better word, happens on the edge of things. Everything is possible at the edge. It’s where the opposites meet, the different states and elements come together.
If I share my lessons from a lotus flower, from the very edge of things, then perhaps one day soon, I’ll be able to share with you my lessons from blooming and I’ll be able to tell you all about my brand new leaves.