I've been trying for weeks to write a post to go along with this photo (not that it needs more words, this ironically tragic sentiment from Oscar Wilde saying it all). It's been a struggle. The whole self love thing is a struggle, the gulf wider than I thought possible between what I've experienced in my past and what I long for, between what's been expected, what I've been taught, how I've been indoctrinated and socialized, and what I know in my heart is true.
Into this gulf walks my neighbor, telling me - not as an idea to be explored, but as fact - that in order to love ourselves we first have to be kind to others... . What? WHAT??? And in that moment, it was gone, the conflict, the gulf, the difficulty, and I found myself arguing passionately, with such fierce love, advocating for this being, for all beings everywhere, who come in so innocent, light and love incarnate, hearts wide open, sweet, tender beings, who deserve to be loved no matter what. It hit me then, when I asked if she only loved her children if they were kind to others, that what this is really about is unconditional love. Not radical self love, not even profound self love, but unconditional self love. Not based on anything we do or don't do, that I do or don't do, having nothing to do with merit or earning, but deserved simply and only because we are, because I am, because she, my neighbor, is. Tender hearts living in a world run amok, where they are - without bad intention - trampled, and in response, closed off from ourselves, from one another, from the Bigger Love everywhere; hearts put away where we think they will be safe, but in reality, cutting ourselves off from our own love, first and foremost and because we are cut off from it here, where the very source lives in our hearts, we cut it off from everyone, everything.
Still, I have no idea how to get there, how to actually untie the knots of a contracted heart, how to untangle a lifetime of self-hatred and judgment (yes, I said it), how to heal the woundings perpetuated by others who were also, themselves, terribly wounded. I only know that it is calling me. I only know this longing, and to keep exploring, to keep talking about it, to keep writing, to keep making art about it, and to keep being inspired by others' words and journeys. And to see, that even though I have no idea how to do this, what a beautiful gift that it has arisen at all, what a sweetness that even this vulnerability has been exposed and seen, and that through some grace, I am ready, eager even, to begin this love affair.
So... let's practice today, on the day we celebrate love, in whatever way we can... smiling at ourselves as we pass the mirror, buying ourselves flowers, or even just stopping for an instant and imagining we are our very own beloved.