I wrote to him, “I respect your decision, and I wish you well, always.” I meant it. The words came from a place of sincerity and love; I stood tall and very sure of my growth as a woman and human in that moment. Recently, I was thumbing through a post over at Tiny Buddha–a blog dedicated to joining Buddhist ideals with our every day struggles–when I realized that I needed to address some things with him. I was holding to some anger that stemmed purely from my hurt feelings concerning choices he made, which I simply did not agree with or wish to adhere to. I needed Buddha. It is not often that I don’t feel “fed” when I sit with Buddhist principles. The Buddhist spiritual journey is all about–only about–love and growth, and I stand as a soldier for both. A recent article there called “10 Ways To Love The People In Your Life” really spoke to my heart because, well, it was sore and needed to be spoken to. This year has, for me, been chocked full of “Wow! it’s like that?” disappointing moments in personal relationships, and recently, I have felt myself becoming a bit embittered. At the same time, however–and as I commented on Twitter (while trying to mentally and emotionally sift through my big, full feelings)–I have reached a point in my personal development where even when I would feel satisfied with being petty, angry, or hateful, the universe simply will not allow it. She stands there–all black-mama-like, hands on hips, lips pursed, telling me, “Now you know better….”
Reading the aforementioned article affirmed and challenged my feelings about how I love simultaneously. “Tell them about their brilliance.” Check! “Be authentic and give others the gift of the real you and a real relationship.” Check! “Remember that you don’t have to understand their choices to respect or accept them.” Oh… well… but… I mean… that sh*t hurt my feelings though… Hurt feelings serve as no excuse for whether or not we respect the people we claim to love, or the choices they make. People have a right to be whomever they choose, and it is our responsibility to accept and even support them if we love them, whether we agree with them or not. Tara Sophia Mohr–the author of the article–confirms, “Remember that everyone you encounter was created by divine intelligence and has an important role to play in the universe. Treat them as such.” There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s; one should add to her statement–even when it’s hard, and we’re tired, and our feelings have been trampled on like a foreign spectator at the Running of the Bulls.
We have to offer compassion if we hope to receive it–also a statement needing no further examination or forensics. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yeah Jo, easier said than done.” ‘Chile, I told myself the same thing as I wrote that email. I am a Scorpio with a hell of a stinger and a way with words–I know how to hurt when I am hurting. In the end I know, however, that the character I’m building, by challenging myself to love in transformative and revolutionary ways, will return to me in abundance. Good karma, bad karma– our lives are a collection of it, so we may as well strive for the good, always.
Another important point made in the article, though, is what we sometimes forget while accepting others and their choices, “Don’t conflate accepting with being a doormat or betraying yourself.” I love the duality of that statement, and the truth it sits in. Yes, we are responsible for loving, fully, those we say we love, but we are not required to allow that love to forge our own undoing. This reminds me of the term “compassionate detachment,” which I borrowed from activist Aisha Simmons.
We can as Mohr mentions, “Let them be who they are, entirely. Then, you decide what you need, in light of who they are.” UMMPH! We are capable of loving others with great feeling and consideration, without compromising who we are and even who we wish to become. This reasoning is even more important than loving and accepting others because, as Buddha points out, “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” The key to loving others is to first love ourselves and, through the model of loving ourselves, offer the greatest parts of our loved-up-selves to them.
Choose love as you choose breath, with necessity and an understanding that it is detrimental to living. Realize that loving you is paramount, but loving others is one of the few reasons we inhabit this planet. And remember we do it, this love thing because, as sister Nikki Giovanni reminds us, it “…is the only true adventure.”