“A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western. Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.”
Here it is... day 40. It doesn't feel like 40 days, and though this started out as an exercise in self-discipline, it became an exploration into my own mind and heart. Having to think about what each rule meant to me on a daily basis did a lot for my discipline, for sure, but it also set me off on a journey with unexpected results.
Was there some great epiphany? Have I magically stopped yelling completely? No, let's be honest here. I'm still very much who I am, but I'm starting to make more sense to myself. I'm a little clearer on who I am and why. I know exactly what I don't want in life, and from there I'm starting to figure out what I do want. What I can and can't do without. And it's not what I suspected.
Perhaps that's why it's fitting that all roads lead to rule 40 - "a life without love is of no account". It is important to love oneself, ones family, ones friends, and having love in return is just as necessary.
In these uncertain times, I find that an alarming number of young people are swearing off love. It's for the naïve, the needy, the weak. Those of us who are self-aware and world-wizened know better. Right?
Wrong. If you are with someone who has this kind of attitude, please, walk away. If you have this kind of attitude, please, do yourself a favour and get off that high horse, because you're riding it backwards no less. It is the most foolish thing to be ashamed of loving someone else too much, what are you so afraid of?
We need to take a long hard look at ourselves, to face our fears head-on, and realize their place in the universe is just a tiny speck... exactly the same as us. And then there are the opinions society at large has of us, and guess what? That's not even a tiny speck, it's non-existent in the grand scheme of things.
What have I learned over the last 40 days? Here are some of the bullet points, you know, since we all have ADHD these days:
- There is no cure for road rage. None.
- Most things I yell at my kids about are just coming from me being overworked / overtired / not mentally stimulated enough / not creatively fulfilled enough, and has no actual connection to the action itself or my kids. Well, most of the time. And, in those instances, it's just not worth losing it, but it's hard not to. I'm still working on this one.
- Sometimes, you do need to lose it, because you're trying to make your kids into good, decent, considerate human beings. Or save their life. In either of those two cases, you do what you have to in order to get the point across. That's what parenting is.
- Tell your kids stories about your pregnancy. Their birth. The first time you saw them, held them. Their baby stories. Kids love this stuff, and there's nothing that makes you bond more than sharing those special memories.
- You can never have enough cuddles.
- It's hard not to judge people sometimes. It's really bad to do it, but sometimes it really is hard. Still, must keep trying.
- Be grateful for what you have. You never know what others are going through, and if you only have small problems in your life that you can fix yourself, you're very lucky indeed.
- If you have people who love you in your life, you are also very lucky. Try not to take them for granted.
- There is no point in dieting and cutting back on roti at dinner if you're going to get the munchies at 11pm and eat a packet of crisps with dip and several chocolate chip cookies. Seriously, T, just eat the damn roti at dinner! Ugh. So mad at myself.
- Exercise is vital for your brain as much as for your body, and yes, even for your creativity.
- One weekend I was so exhausted I just couldn't get up. As a result the 6 year old made breakfast for herself and the little one. Well hey! That was a wonderful surprise. It's what we teach them to do for themselves that matters, right? No more "helicopter" parenting.
- The signs are there. Everywhere, in everything. You just have to open your soul to see them. Tune in to the right frequency, if you will.
- Love with all your heart. Try with all your heart. Create with all your heart. It may or may not be returned or well-received. But you try your very best regardless, because you are you, and that's what you do.
And on that very Dr. Seuss note, it is time to bid the 40 days of love farewell. Thank you, Shams. Thank you, Rumi. 40 days might be over, but those rules are always in my mind and heart as of now, and you start to see small things around you differently. There are dualities within me that will probably always exist, I accept them but also accept the challenge to constantly work on myself. I do not want these 40 days to be over and forget everything I have learned. I will revisit the rules time and again, some more than others. I will playfully wonder, "What would Shams do?" in various situations.
I decided for the last image that I would take a picture of the calligraphy I did in its raw form. Those tools have been my faithful companions, and I think the 40 days did the most remarkable thing bringing us back together again.
If you've made it this far, thank you for going on this bizarre ride with me. You're awesome, and I'm high-fiving you from here. I hope you've gotten something helpful out of these 40 days, but hey, I'll settle for mildly entertained. ;)