I cannot say this advice saved me or sent me running into the arms of my soul mate.
Yet, for some reason, it flipped my whole world by changing my perspective of love and life. Possibly, I have been the emotionally unavailable asshat in my own life. Limiting myself to my truest potential to fall in love with my own life and to love others, to welcome companionship and live the adventure.
Rumi, the great poet, came into my vortex when I began to search within for the barriers I had built to defend myself. In some way, these barriers gratified a sense of fear to the hurt and failure within. But it closed me off to a deeper connection of living a life in love, joy, fun, and adventure.
His first quote that initiated this journey was:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
I’ve always considered myself a free spirit. A spirit willing to be open to experience and to connection. When I began to look within, I found I always seemed to seek out a sort of love, only to find that love and feel like there was more. I could not stay and left feeling disappointed.
So I took a sabbatical. I mean sabbatical in terms of the Greek word sabatikos, “of the Sabbath”—the day of rest. I took a rest from my external seeking, the hoping that the more I put myself out there, the greater the chance of finding love would be. Instead, I decided I would give my heart a break and allow it to heal fully.
This decision has taken me on a journey of love more so than I ever would have imagined. Rumi’s quote of the barriers within myself came to fruition in a multitude of fashions. The expectation I place on myself and on others. Oh…the pressure. The attempt to control the outcome.
My pain and broken-heartedness with its unhealed resentments, along with the simultaneous path to forgiveness. My insecurity, doubt, and my disbelief. My incapacity to surrender. This time to myself has been a journey of unravelling. I have discovered intense emotional reactions due to years of suppression. I have also connected in platonic ways that have revealed deeper levels of intimacy than I thought possible. I have laughed harder at the silliness of life and learned not to take myself and my journey so seriously.
In sum of it all, I have learnt that my greatest barrier to love has been me all along.
My inability to love myself, and I don’t mean this in a cliché manner. By love myself I mean, spend evenings alone and truly enjoy what I can come up with to do. Finding comfort in my own habits and lifestyle choices. Uncovering the courage to take myself out to the theatre for the pure joy of experience. Swimming in the ocean after a long day of work, alone and thrilled as the sun sets its pink and orange tones around me.
I have faced my worries and fears and offered myself space to give loving-kindness to my own being and the hardships I have endured. In this space, I feel at ease not to chase the love I think I want, but to allow the love I know I am worthwhile.
I have allowed myself the freedom to discover what it is that brings me joy and the love I wish to share with another, when the time happens. I’m not chasing it no more. I feel content knowing that when the last barrier has been surrendered, love may appear in human form. If it does or does not, I will continue to uncover layers of love to be lived. However, in my disbelief, I discovered a part of myself that still truly believes.
Now, this whole journey lead to another Rumi quote on love that I feel has become a guiding light:
“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 European. 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.”
And so I realised that it is not what it looks like on the outside. It is what it feels like within that truly matters. The journey is to continually have an open heart to every experience and move with its flow. The last quote of Rumi’s that goes with this script is:
“Because although it is a fact that He cannot be found by seeking, only those who seek can find Him.” ~ Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love
Now, I do not mean this in any way religious and each to their own interpretation however it resonates. I find simplicity in this statement that goes with many aspects of life—be that happiness, wealth, love, truth.
The quote begins through a conversation of finding Him. When asked if he was able to, the reply was, indeed.
He has been with me all along.
Why we seek that on the outside which is found within?
I think it’s because through our environment that doors of self-discovery are opened. When we search within, we find the virtues of freedom and embodiment and can live it inside out. We are cyclical like that of nature. The truth we seek inside is the truth found on the outside, and the truth that is sought outside is lived within.
Therefore, let us not complicate love no further. May we allow love its course to live through each and every one of us, confined to no limit. May we heal our hearts of all defences and clear our mind to welcome the light and passions that ignite our soul’s desire.