I get off the train at Kings Cross station. I walk up until I reach the carnage and detritus, the ugly, twisted, violent beauty of the Caledonian Road. It was his place, our place. It was my place first, back in the day. It is my place again now, I have reclaimed it. I feel at home here, in the relative chaos, the edgy, slightly dangerous feel of the place. It feels real, it makes me feel alive. I find an incredible acceptance of all that is and all that has been, a very real beauty in this moment as I stand in the piss stained streets and smell the scent of stale beer, cigarettes, listening to screeching arguments from housing estates, dogs barking in the dimpsy evening twilight. I fell in love with this place, the people and this reality many years ago. I love it still. Ironically I am here to visit a Tibetan Buddhist centre which, years ago, I never even knew existed, although I must have passed it so may times. I love how life does that, such splendid serendipitous moments, twists and turns.
As I stand there I reflect on all that has been and all that is to come. I ask myself, what is love? We say that we ‘fall’ in love. It is as if we have no control over this emotion. Love can also been interpreted in a spiritual way, in terms of universal consciousness. it is said that love is our true nature, our reality, beyond the physical body, beyond the thinking mind, beyond what we perceive as our world is love.
I fell in love completely and utterly with my partner many years ago. He died just over one year ago. This love that I felt for him was all consuming, I would have, and did do, absolutely anything for him. I believed that he would have done anything for me, I still believe he would have done, however in reality some things were not as they seemed, and whilst I am able to understand and also to forgive the hurt I endured as a result, it makes me now question what love is really. As children we learn what love is (or isn’t) from our parents. If our parents are openly affectionate, tell you they love you, hug you and you feel wanted, valued and accepted, then this is how you will learn to love. If on the other hand you feel that you were not wanted, if you never got told that you are appreciated or accepted, you never got told that you were loved and never got held in a warm embrace, you adapt, and love becomes something that you use to seek attention, often to your detriment, this results in unhealthy relationships, a total disregard for your own self-care, appalling self worth, a sense of desperation in seeking this need which you don’t even understand. and which will therefore never be fulfilled. This then creates a cycle leading to more of the same, and so it goes on until, if we are lucky enough (although it doesn’t always feel very lucky at the time) we receive a massive kick up the backside from life and this causes us to investigate, question and work on the whole love issue. Then, if we are really lucky, we discover what love really is.
I can now say what I believe love is not. It is not controlling, coercing, questioning, deceiving, demanding or neglecting. Following much hardcore soul searching and releasing of my own inner shit I can now see that love is accepting, beautiful, gentle and kind, incredibly powerful and to be handled with the utmost care for all concerned. It is not something to ‘loose’ yourself in but to celebrate yourself within, it must surely enhance your existence and not seek to destroy it.
I see on a daily basis, and probably I am guilty of judging here, a lot of people who settle for something that perhaps does not fulfil them. They tolerate their existence within a relationship which they maybe find miserable, unhappy, painful, because they are frightened of the alternative. It takes courage and determination to walk away from a safe routine and home environment and to believe that there is something more than that. Maybe if you walk away you won’t find it, but maybe you will. You won’t know unless you try. When I was struggling emotionally with all of this stuff recently a dear friend said to me of living life fully ‘Feeling alive can be painful and difficult but what is the alternative? Oh yes,death by a 1000 boredom cuts living in Tunbrige Wells getting your library books back on time. Keep the faith.’ So this journey is in no way easy.
Every day we settle for second best. What is that about? Why is misery in the majority and happiness in the minority and why is that ok? We are all alone walking through this world. I have really just realised this. This is a positive not a negative thing. We are responsible for ourselves, self worth, self preservation, self nurturing, self love. Before we can even begin to properly love anyone else we need to love and nurture ourselves, for real. Before we can love ourselves we need to find forgiveness for ourselves, for how we may have treated others and ourselves in the past, and for others who have harmed us. We need to let go of resentment and fear in order to be able to move forwards in peace and harmony. Then we can maybe begin to love ourselves and others.
I used to appear to people, to give the impression, that I was confident, self assured, always happy and laughing, that I had my life totally sorted. And I actually believed this myself, I believed my own propaganda! I never stopped to scratch the surface, I was totally kidding myself. Only since everything has been stripped away can I now see who I really am. Now I really am confident, true to myself and self assured. I do not always smile, but I keep it real and when I do smile and laugh it’s because that’s how I feel, when I cry or shout, that’s how I feel too. Now I have become a vastly more authentic version of who I was pretending to be all of my life. I had to take absolutely everything (and I mean everything) away in order to find and to see myself clearly. Whilst it’s not always easy, I know who I am, I have boundaries, I am creative, wild, free, passionate, and feral. I find these days that every disappointment, every person that lets me down, every challenge, serves to build my inner strength, courage and self resilience, sense of boundaries and ability to nurture myself. When nothing else remains and everything has been stripped away all that is left is instinct, like an animal intuition. Then when all of the layers of illusion are removed, then we can see our true selves, we can see and feel the love, because there is nothing else remaining.
One evening not so long ago I went to the beach. It was twilight, the perfect crescent moon was shining on the calm ocean. I had been in the woods gathering and so I lit a fire and then swam in the sea and moonlight, afterwards drying myself and warming by the fire. I sat there for ages, transfixed by the flames, the waves and the moon. There was a shooting star! It was so magical. Life is so beautiful it’s almost perfectly heartbreaking at times don’t you think? Life, in those perfect magical moments, is when we truly experience love.