Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service (Day 704 – Day 713)
In my late twenties, I moved to New York City. I remember seeing a hand crafted metal bracelet in some little boutique. The artist had etched words into the surfaces of grey metal cubes that, as it wrapped around my wrist, told a story over and over again. It was a simple story; the story we all hope to live.
It read: Time passes, life changes, love remains.
I was young but I had already lived enough to know that this was a rare story but it was the story that I wanted for my life. I bought the piece and wore it as a talisman to help draw in the love that I wanted. I am a romantic and an idealist. I hoped to fall in love and have a partnership that would tell that story. Over the years, finding partners was easy. Finding a match, however, was not.
Time passes. This is the cruelest truth of our western existence. We idolize youth but it is such a short span in our lives. When we are young, we believe that time stretches out before us forever. When we have spent some of that precious time, we realize that the next moment has never been guaranteed. The moment has gone and it will never come again. Standing silently, unnoticed in the continual flow from what is next to what is past is the only thing that is real: the present moment. The only right time for anything is ‘now.’
But most of us don’t manage to live in the moment – and if we do, it is for fleeting moments, before we are carried away by our to do list and our regrets. And so, we live forever in a race to the next moment where change is a constant. But it is not the change in our circumstances that matters in our story. It is the way in which our circumstances change us, in this moment, that dictates how we will write our narrative.
I was in Los Angeles just a few days ago. Coming to Vancouver, I have lost the person I worked hard to become. I found her again for long moments in LA – in the gaps in the passing of time. It wasn’t the circumstances of being in Los Angeles or with beloved friends that brought me to life again. It was the way I was able to react to being there. I managed to do the kind of work that I love, while I was there, and it was effortless. I was able to connect with loved ones and I was able to laugh. I was able to look at great art and to let it change me.
I love to look at paintings by Mark Rothko. It is not a quick glance but a long and lingering gaze. It is a meditation. And when I sit for 30 minutes looking at a single painting I could swear that it morphs, before my eyes. His paintings are like portals to another dimension just beyond my perception. Slowly, with enough attention and relaxation, I become present with the painting in the moment. I am able to see through the eyes of the artist that created it, and experience the love of creation. It is me that changes and it is me that is revealed in the looking. Art may seem to change as we look at it. But it is we who can be transformed, if we allow it.
Like that bracelet, time seems to wrap around our life, bringing changes, but we are returned to the same point over and over again. The question is: can we be present to it when it happens? Sometimes there is rough edge on the links that keeps catching and drawing us back. If we can be present and really look, we can see through the eyes of the artist that created our bracelet. We will see where the rough edges need to be smoothed so we can stop catching. If we file the bracelet too aggressively, it will break. It can be mended but there will forever be a weakness where it was broken. If we want to keep the block that reads “Love Remains” we must bring love and care to the snag.
While I was in LA, I had the chance to spend time with old and new friends. It is a joy to have these men in my life. They model for me new ways of relating to men.
I am grateful for a new friendship with TCLA. His caring wisdom has been fortifying for me.
I am grateful to have spent time with CM whose unconditional love is one of the most transformative experiences in my life. I am grateful to have met him and that he remains such a positive force in my life for so long. His wisdom and counsel helps me to approach the snags of my life in a whole-hearted way.
I have tried over and over but life keeps snagging in one particular spot. I find it difficult to be grateful for this. But I am grateful to LK for pointing out that love begets love. That doesn’t mean that love is always reciprocated. But, only by approaching life with love can we attract the love we want. I find myself in the discomfort of anger over the shape and contours of this snag. Anger is the right response and anger – although scary – is a fiery emotion that brings about change. We need fire to forge the metal into the blocks that make up a bracelet and we need fire to solder the metal links of the bracelet, but uncontrolled fire can melt the entire thing into a puddle of molten metal. We must use fire to transform, not destroy. Fire is at the heart of a passion and while passion can be scary, without it, we do not have a very interesting story.
My anger has caused me to be sweary and even to slip into feeling hatred at times. This is uncomfortable. It is not a person I want to be. My service this week is to try to find a way to be open hearted and the loving person I want to be, while feeling my anger and allowing it to burn and transform me so that the situation can shift. As CM points out: transformation is painful. And none of us looks pretty while we are doing it. We make mistakes, we become the person we don’t want to be and then we change again. Love is the only thing that gets us through it.
I am grateful that I got to spend some time with SP in LA. Our friendship is still new, but it is unlike any that I have ever had before. I am grateful that at a time when I am experiencing anger and disorientation, this friendship is gentle and certain. No matter where in the world I am, I am connected to this man, and that certainty of Oneness is a kind of Grace.
Let time pass; it will anyway. But, be present in the moment. Good or bad, it is all we really have. Let life change; but let us choose how we are changed by it. Bring love to every situation and we will see: Love remains.