It’s a little odd for me to say that I’m in love with life because I know that I still feel pain. The holidays were once effortlessly happy, and I never understood why people moped around saying, “The holidays are tough.” Yet in the last few years, I’ve never found myself relating more to the mopey-ness that accompanies this season. This is the kind of pain that comes only after you have experienced real heartbreak. What is there to celebrate when tragedy has touched us so personally?
I suppose the celebration comes in witnessing the surviving spirit we all possess–that there is something/everything inside of us that allows us to grow past our suffering and step into love.
Sharon Salzberg teaches that paying attention is the place where love begins. When you suffer, you can make a choice to attend and befriend your pain. You can use metta, or lovingkindness, wishing peace, love, safety, and health for yourself. You can hold your suffering with a spaciousness, acknowledging that while it is here, it is not the only thing here. The mantra, “this too” is a helpful tool in reminding us of the vastness and plurality of emotion, thoughts, moods, and situations we can experience (in even just one day).
This spaciousness with ourselves allows us more grace with others. In the buddhist sense, grace is simply another word for patience. The Dalai Lama encourages us to develop “an enthusiasm for patience.” He must know that when we are engaged in this pursuit, we cultivate more tolerance and deeper understanding. Patience helps us see ourselves in others–we realize more and more our interconnectedness, and we lower the walls of separation. When we are patient with others, we allow them to be who they are. I know that’s all I want from my relationships–to feel that my being is just fine.
What I’m discovering is that the more I choose love, the more it expands into parts of life that I wasn’t connected to before. My love for animals, the planet, and the cosmos is budding in ways that make me feel like a child again–I get to discover new ways of being in love with all life. At any age, at any time, we can become beginners and learn to love anew.
I can embrace this state of falling in love, because I’ve learned that sometimes our suffering helps us crack the shell that kept us from touching the expanse that life truly is.