I was raised to be a go-getter. Born in the late seventies, to a family who were in the process of working themselves out of the lower class and into the middle, I was geared up for success. Get good grades, get a good job, get married. Ideally in that order. The sense of striving was all around me, as was the notion that the harder I worked the more I’d get – more money, more recognition, more opportunities. Nobody told me that of course, the ultimate reason we were doing all this was to get more love. Actually I think we’d all forgotten the reason why we were striving so hard. We had a sense that if we got more of X, Y and Z, we’d be happier people, so that was that. Somewhere, some time in the future, increasing quantities of happiness awaited us each time we added to our pile of treasure. The thought of questioning the rationale behind this movement didn’t occur to me until I was in my late twenties, and for some of us never does. What exactly was this happiness that I was working so hard to accumulate? It had to be love. But it seemed that the harder I tried to get more love – through family, friends, lovers and work, the more elusive it became. I just couldn’t get enough! I was trapped in the fallacy that love was something outside of myself that I needed to ‘get’ – which is quite possibly the greatest illusion of our time.
I’d been had. The truth had been well and truly twisted and I, along with most of the people I’d ever met, were caught in a trap. We were the go-getters. And we were for-getting. Forgetting that love is for-giving.* Which is the way it will stay until one by one, we slowly come to realise that love cannot be gotten. We need to remember to give love. Not so we can get something in return, but so we can learn to stop taking it. To stop stealing kisses and start giving them.
For me, this is a major turnaround. Monumental. Given my thirty or so years of conditioning and grooming to get what I want out of life, it may well take me thirty years or so to learn to give what I want to life. I ask for your patience as I practice being patient with myself. I’m new to this. As a beginner, I notice myself questioning whether I’ll ‘run out’ of energy to give, whether my relationships will become one-sided, but I know these thoughts are simply the go-getter fearing for its future – after all, it’s in danger of no longer being needed!
For whatever reasons, I’m selfish. And not in a self-loving kind of way. Not yet anyway. Nope, it’s still very much about me getting what I want. I’ve known intellectually for many years that we are all one, we are all connected, and that the getting/taking mentality is, like, totally old paradigm, duuude. But to embody that knowledge is a whole other matter entirely – it’s what you might call ungrounded information (believing something to be true, but not living it through my actions). Happily I’m noticing my behaviour – that’s a fine and important step – and I am challenging my usual way of thinking and doing and stretching myself to think and do differently. At a recent workshop with Jonathan Kay, a master ‘Fool’ with whom I’m currently training, I began to see that everything in my ‘play’ – improvised performance – is actually me. Whether I’m playing my mother, son, a banana, a princess or a daffodil. This may sound obvious, as I’m the one creating it, but in the moment, when faced with one’s nemesis in a play, it’s very easy to forget that I made them and they are me! After ten workshops (half way through my first year), the light is very slowly beginning to penetrate the cracks. Ever so softly, an awareness is beginning to trickle out of the workshops and into my other plays – my parenting, my job, my relationships – that they are all me too. I can’t stress how tender this awareness is – green and fragile as a seedling as it unfurls. In time, if I tend to it carefully, I may just be able to watch it grow. To become selfish in a self-loving way – truly experiencing everything and everyone that comes into my awareness, my play, as myself. I can only imagine how loving I would be, if I lived from moment to moment treating all I encounter as I wish to be treated.
I’m happy to be untwisting my fate. I’m glad to have around me those who show me how it can be done. People like Jonathan Kay*. Or Mark Boyle.Or Stephen and Lynda Kane. Or Mother Meera. Or my cat. Yet ultimately it comes down to my own actions, small and grand. Whilst I’m actively doing more outwardly giving things – for example sponsoring an orphan, changing my electricity supplier to green energy, giving copies of my new book away and spending a LOT more creative time with my son – I also need to do more inwardly giving things too. As a friend says, to hold myself dear. But if what I am beginning to see continues to take root, then to give outwardly is also to give inwardly – as within, so without. Small steps. Feel free to share your own steps with me – hand holding whilst I’m wobbling my way across this new ground is always appreciated. xo
My new book, The Everyday Alchemist’s Happiness Handbook (Findhorn Press) is out now. Read reviews and excerpts here.