If I Had a Single Flower for Every Time I Think of You, I Could Walk Forever in My Garden.
How many flowers🌷would you have?
‘Working with the British public is particularly hard. They’re very sarcastic. They’re easily bored.’ Photograph: Mike McGregor Mike Mcgregor/PR
Marina Abramovic is a talented artist 🎨 whose work is raw and poignant. If I were an artist I would be like her. Bare and vulnerable. Tough yet fragile. Loud but silent. Serene yet turbulent. You may have heard of her Moma exhibition and her relationship with Ulay. When I first saw him, I thought you idiot. You let a woman like that go?! You fool. I still think it. Why? Well because I am a woman. I know this stuff!
Marina says it so well, she could be speaking for me:
From a very early time, I understood that I only learn from things I don’t like. If you do things you like, you just do the same shit. You always fall in love with the wrong guy. Because there’s no change. It’s so easy to do things you like. But then, the thing is, when you’re afraid of something, face it, go for it. You become a better human being.
What’s the cost?
“Ah, a big one. Lots of loneliness, my dear. If you’re a woman, it’s almost impossible to establish a relationship. You’re too much for everybody. It’s too much. The woman always has to play this role of being fragile and dependent. And if you’re not, they’re fascinated by you, but only for a little while. And then they want to change you and crush you. And then they leave. So, lots of lonely hotel rooms, my dear.”
Ulay and Abramović split up in part because she was moving ahead of him as an artist, something he reflects on rather bitterly in the documentary, saying caustically that she became “very ambitious” after they separated. Of course he’d say that. The ego is a precious thing, both foe and friend.
Yet her words of loving the wrong man rings true. The loneliness is so aptly captured, it hurts. Being too much seems to be a problem. But is it? I’d say no, no, NO. A man who is worth your salt will come to you, will run to you because you are YOU, too much and never enough. Those who run away, well they were never enough for you anyway. If you are too much, well they may just be too little.
Marina’s dream remains. She dreams to have this perfect man, who does not want to change her. She says:
But my dream is to have those Sunday mornings, where you’re eating breakfast and reading newspapers with somebody. I’m so old fashioned in real life, and I’m so not old fashioned in art. But I believe in true love, so perhaps it will happen. Right now, no, I have no space. But life has been good to me. Lots of pain. But it’s OK.
This is a truly good book with words of timeless wisdom to offer when it comes to Love.
I will post some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s words here, in a few parts perhaps so that it’s not too overwhelming initially. Maybe his words will resonate with you too as they did, me. Maybe you’ll find something that helps, that makes sense to you, that feels right in your soul and that you would feel moved to slowly bring into your own life and heart ♥.
I find Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings really meaningful just like Pema Chodron’s – they both offer a sense of meaning to our human suffering.
If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.
Anxiety is love’s greatest killer.
It makes others feel as you might when a drowning person holds on to you.
You want to save that person, but you know he or she will strangle you with his or her panic.
Very true. Anais Nin wrote this in 1947. It is still apt in 2015. We get anxious all the time even though we know better. Some days are easier than others. Some days we are more in control. The days when the moon is not full. Other days, when it is, we can’t help ourselves when we twist and turn in angst over another.
In New York on November 10, 1958, John Steinbeck wrote this letter to his son, Thom, who had fallen in love with a girl named Susan while at boarding school. Steinbeck’s words of wisdom — tender, optimistic, timeless, infinitely sagacious — should be etched onto the heart and mind of every living, breathing human being.
The letter below is precious in many ways but this is what stands out for me: Nothing good gets away. Read it again. Nothing good gets away. Therefore, what is truly yours, can never be lost. Hold on to that when you struggle to hold on. Instead just believe and let go.
Here is the letter from father to son:
We had your letter this morning. I will answer it from my point of view and of course Elaine will from hers.
First — if you are in love — that’s a good thing — that’s about the best thing that can happen to anyone. Don’t let anyone make it small or light to you.
Second — There are several kinds of love. One is a selfish, mean, grasping, egotistical thing which uses love for self-importance. This is the ugly and crippling kind. The other is an outpouring of everything good in you — of kindness and consideration and respect — not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable. The first kind can make you sick and small and weak but the second can release in you strength, and courage and goodness and even wisdom you didn’t know you had.
You say this is not puppy love. If you feel so deeply — of course it isn’t puppy love.
But I don’t think you were asking me what you feel. You know better than anyone. What you wanted me to help you with is what to do about it — and that I can tell you.
Glory in it for one thing and be very glad and grateful for it.
The object of love is the best and most beautiful. Try to live up to it.
If you love someone — there is no possible harm in saying so — only you must remember that some people are very shy and sometimes the saying must take that shyness into consideration.
Girls have a way of knowing or feeling what you feel, but they usually like to hear it also.
It sometimes happens that what you feel is not returned for one reason or another — but that does not make your feeling less valuable and good.
Lastly, I know your feeling because I have it and I’m glad you have it.
We will be glad to meet Susan. She will be very welcome. But Elaine will make all such arrangements because that is her province and she will be very glad to. She knows about love too and maybe she can give you more help than I can.
And don’t worry about losing. If it is right, it happens — The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.
A great quote from poet, Donte Collins.
It has been insightful writing about the various shades of Love in February – thank you for sharing the journey with me with your thoughtful comments. I have no doubt that I will continue to talk about Love in the days that lie before me but for now, and to conclude the theme for this month’s blog posts, I have chosen this piece by Derek Walcott, Love after Love.
I’ve chosen it because it speaks to me about self-Love, one of the most important (and difficult) aspects of Love. It is certainly something that’s taking me a while to learn. It’s easy, sometimes, to love another, more than yourself. If you think of the ways you’ve treated yourself over the years, put yourself through, you will see that you’ve been unkind in gestures you would never have dreamt of doing to another. Yet you’ve tolerated this harshness to your Self over the years, over and over again. Beaten yourself up black and blue.
I received Walcott’s poem in the dark, quiet, early morning hours by email. I like that time of the day when things are still and silent around me. At first I thought of that song by Cher but then realised this was quite different. His poem reminded me of all the ways and areas of my life that I am trying to understand. To me, his words are about a deeper sense of meaning; a coming back to yourself, a return to self as such.
Walcott gently reminds me of my slow lessons when it comes to learning about “stillness”; and to just be with what it is. To stop do-ing. To let go. To have faith. To trust. To let life happen to me. As Rilke once said “Believe me: life is in the right in any case”.
But there’s something else.
It also brings up the notion of ‘waiting’.
Carrie Hilgert, http://carriehilgert.com/ as some of you may know, is one of my favourite bloggers. She not only writes, but paints beautifully:
She recently said this about waiting which I feel is so apt, so right, and so true:
“Waiting is the hardest thing for me. Waiting for the sadness to pass, waiting for something exciting to happen, waiting for results of my hard work. I have a friend who says that waiting might be one of the hardest things we face as humans.”
And so in this process of just be-ing, in my waiting, I’m trying to love the not-quite-a-stranger within myself. She has been with me all my life — my 3-year old, my 6, my 10, my 13, my 16, my 18, my 21, my 30, and so on, and I am accepting all of her (even the ones I’ve not met yet, thanks Chris from More than Enough) quietly, lovingly, gently, as if for the first time. She (or he) is after all the stranger who has loved you, all your life. Derek Walcott describes this process of self-recognition and acceptance so well, so powerfully. I hope you feel it too.
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
If you like to know, here’s further research on the man who wrote the poem as mentioned and written in the uncarved blog by Ken Chawkin:
Derek Walcott is an amazing man, an artist, poet, professor and playwright. Acknowledged as the greatest living poet in the English language, he won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1992. He taught at Boston University for 20 years. Turns out he also taught in Canada. In 2009, Walcott began a three-year distinguished scholar-in-residence position at the University of Alberta. In 2010, he became Professor of Poetry at the University of Essex.
Born in Saint Lucia, Derek Walcott was influenced by his mixed racial and cultural heritage. He married a Trinidadian, raised a family there, and built the Trinidad Theatre Workshop. For someone who was in search of his own identity, both as a person and an artist, this poem represents a coming back to one’s essential self. It resonates deeply with the thousands who have read it. It was first published in Sea Grapes, and later in Derek Walcott, Collected Poems, 1948-1984, and The Poetry of Derek Walcott 1948-2013.
Listen to this excellent July 13, 2014 BBC Radio 4 interview where Nobel Laureate poet Derek Walcott talks about his life and work at home on St Lucia: Derek Walcott: A Fortunate Traveller (28 mins).
Be kind to yourselves and let your weekend be kind to you.
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