Tag Archives: rumi

Tuesdays with Morrie

I pick up a little book called Tuesdays with Morrie while on holidays in Spain. I saw it years ago but avoided it because the blurb on the back made me worry that it’d be a depressing read. It is about a dying professor (Morrie Schwartz) and his younger student (Mitch Albom). This time, I am ready. I devour it in two sittings. And I cry and cry and cry.

It isn’t that it’s unbearably sad. It’s just so touching, it moves me like nothing else has for a long time. I can feel Morrie’s energy with me as I finish the memoir. I love him. I can honestly say that he (and the endearingly honest Mitch) has changed my life. The gradual shift in Mitch’s attitude inspires me almost as much as Morrie’s wisdom.

Morrie allowed himself to let go, to be vulnerable, and to ask for help. He observed that, when you’re an infant, you need help from others and, when you grow old, you require their assistance also. However, what we fail to acknowledge is that we need other people in between times too.

Morrie told the tale of the little wave that witnessed other waves crashing against the shore. The wave wailed, fearfully: “Oh no, look! This is the fate that awaits us. How horrible!” Another wave reassured him: “Don’t fret, little one, for you are not a wave, you are part of the ocean.” As Rumi wrote: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.”

Morrie’s message has made me realise how closed off I’d become. I’d tell myself that “I like my own space”. I’d go home while co-workers would sit and have tea, a chat and a laugh. I’d stay alone in the flat watching episode after episode of The Good Wife. I’d spend weekends preparing classes instead of exploring the countryside with loved ones. I’d retire early rather than spend time with friends.

I still believe that there should be a balance between rest, work and play and between stillness, silence and moments of noise and interaction. But Morrie’s story has shown me that the most important thing in life is to love. To share what you have with others. To give another human being the gift of your time. Morrie said that he was always 100 per cent present with whomever he was speaking. When he was talking with Mitch, he thought only of Mitch. This resonates with me as I am often in the company of others when I’m not really there. I’m thinking of what needs to be done, or how I shouldn’t have eaten that or I might even be putting a photo through Instagram while somebody attempts to converse with me.

Morrie’s big, brave, generous heart has made me resolve to really live life, to connect with people, to appreciate nature, to question the values we’ve been brainwashed into adopting, to understand that love and peace are what’s true and priceless compared with ever-changing, unreliable material and physical possessions. One of my new goals is to do something that makes me feel alive every single day. I also promise to be present with people, as if each encounter were our last, and to ask, in the words of Robert Holden in his book Loveability: “How can I love you more?”

I have a couple of hours before I have to head for the airport. I could go for a last swim at what the locals call the “healing beach”. But it’s a bit of a walk, I mentally argue. And it’d mean packing a wet bikini. Then, I remember that I’m living life. So I set off in my flip-flops, carrying a pink towel. A line of ants and a yellow butterfly cross my path. A lone purple wildflower on this dry dirt track reduces me to tears. I offer an Hola and a smile to an old man sitting alone. He returns my smile, its corners clipped with surprise. An elderly couple stroll ahead, hand-in-hand. Yet again, my eyes mist. I beam as I spot a set of keys a stranger has carefully balanced atop a bollard.

My breasts bob and sway as my feet flap upon the sand. I feel like an ancient elephant striding across the desert. I inhale the scent of my sweat that has collected in cracks and creases. A homeless man sits on a wall behind the beach. I abandon my beach bag and strip. I don’t suck in my stomach. Not today. I duck my head into the ocean even though my hair was freshly washed this morning. I am alive.

Mitch and Morrie used to say, “We’re Tuesday people” because they usually met on Tuesdays. And I am writing this piece on a Tuesday, watching the waves surge and retreat, with tears in my eyes and a heart that’s breaking… wide open.

Image: Author's own

Image: Author’s own

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Knock Hard, Life

Have you ever had One Of Those Days when you’re just fed up? That’s sort of a rhetorical question because you’re human and this is life so of course you have. I came home this evening with a whopper of a headache after a number of things had gone “wrong”. A number of things were going right too but, when you’re having One Of Those Days, you choose to ignore them. I wanted to crawl under the duvet and pretend that life didn’t have to go on.

Then, I remembered the Winston Churchill quote: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Even though I didn’t feel like it, I switched on Hay House Radio just as Denise Linn was speaking these words: “I choose to believe that things will get better.” 

Sometimes, we feel so beaten down that it’s tempting to just not get up any more. Rumi wrote: “When the world pushes you to your knees, you’re in the perfect position to pray.” It is during these dark moments that we need to ask for help, from a friend or family member or simply by offering a prayer up to the heavens. This is when we need to surrender to some higher wisdom. This is when we need to understand that the bigger picture is so big that we can’t yet see how it’s all meant to fit together. Marilyn Monroe said: “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

I don’t know how all the parts of my life are going to come together. Sometimes, I try to jam pieces together when they’re clearly not the right shape and then I cry with frustration when I break them. And occasionally, I feel broken too. Caroline Myss wrote: “We will all have experiences meant to ‘break our hearts’ – not in half but wide open.”

We all have days when we feel like giving up. When we no longer have all the answers. I’ve quoted five people in this article. Sometimes, it’s a quote you read or hear on the radio that rekindles that tiny flicker of hope. Sometimes, all you’ve got is a quote. Here’s five of them. I hope they help.

Poetry

My aunt was asked to read a poem at a coffee morning this Monday so she phoned me looking for a few of mine to choose from. As I transcribed some of my words, I remembered the utter joy of poetry. Here’s one I wrote a few years ago…

The Catcher

Give her beauty and passion

and she sparks into flight

like a butterfly on acid

throwing light with her wings.

Oh how she casts rainbows

in the tears that spill

and plucks golden harps

of melodious laughter.

Her fires blaze in the hot eyes

of a fervent lover

while pleasure drops in sweat

like pearls.

She lurks amongst the Autumn leaves

gurgles in a virgin stream and

leaps off purple mountain peaks.

I see her fall with the whispering mists

and rise on the coin of sunshine.

Dizzily spinning beside moon and stars,

her silhouette rides angry clouds

that rage against the tranquil skies.

She swoops through many foreign lands

stealing romance and sweet aromas

then feeds me words not yet understood.

Forever roaming the ocean

glancing at corners

urgently probing for

just one sliver of poetry

to cover the silence

of this naked page

and awaken the butterflies

so I don’t plunge

into darkness.

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

Breaking Barriers

Today I came up with a new idea: You’re only doing as well as the despair that that one person can drive you into. I spent a wonderful weekend in Glasgow at a Hay House I Can Do It conference, listening to amazing, uplifting speakers, including Dr Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay. I came home feeling positive and present and full of self-love. And yesterday, just one sentence out of one man’s mouth flung me into self-doubt, anger, tears and a whopper of a headache.

We all have periods when we think we’re doing fantastic. We’re getting things done, our confidence is up and life looks pretty good. We think we finally know who we are and what our purpose is. Spiritual teacher Ram Dass said: “If you think you are so enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.” Because, if your foundations are even slightly shaky, all it takes is that one family member, friend or co-worker to topple it all.

In my case, I feel fine with everybody else but this one particular man. I can be myself around everyone but him. I’m never totally at ease with this man because he is my biggest mirror. He reflects back to me all the things I dislike about myself or about my current situation. He has a knack of saying exactly what will annoy me most. He is my greatest teacher. I realise that I will not have arrived until I can be myself around this man, until I don’t care what he thinks, until I can tell him to F off with a wink and a smile, and until nothing he says or does or even the way he looks at me has any impact, negative or positive on the foundation of who I am.

Today, I woke with the remnants of yesterday’s pounding headache so I took myself for a walk in the morning sunshine. It occurred to me that I still want to appear perfect, that I don’t want others to talk ill of me or think less of me. And this means that I must not be totally sure of myself because, if I was, nothing anyone said would make a difference.

I wanted this man to acknowledge how well I’m doing, how much progress I’ve made, and how much potential I have. But he knew more about how well I’m doing by my silent reaction of anger, disappointment and self-flagellation than any positive words I’ve spoken or written, any praise I’ve received from clients or family members, or any qualifications I’ve attained.

Today, a part of me broke away – the part that needs approval. This man, my teacher, broke me with his off-the-cuff remark. And that is the best remedy for growth. For when you are broken down, your limiting beliefs break off too. Then, you have room to build afresh. From now on, I’m choosing to build an authentic self, one that holds true to herself no matter what.

Life is a series of lessons. And if you’re lucky enough, you’ll find yourself some excellent teachers. But it is what you do with those lessons that will determine how much you will grow. I believe that the message behind every lesson is love. Love for others and love for oneself. Rumi wrote:

“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.”

Yesterday, I found another of those barriers. I had told myself (unconsciously) that I would not love myself unless that man validated me. And I would not love him because he mocked me. Today, in awareness, I decide to love myself (and him) anyway.