“If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up it dies, and it ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation.”
I was in a relationship with a wonderful man for 15 years. That relationship ended almost two years ago as a result of me using my mindfulness practices to make better choices for myself.
While I would describe that relationship as a loving partnership for the majority of our time together, eventually, it did lose its hold on me.
The more I became in tune with myself and my place in the Universe, the further apart we grew. I became weary of being mocked for following my heart’s path to yoga and meditation.
To the outside world, we looked like the perfect match: we didn’t fight; we had shared interests; we gave each other space. Too much space, maybe. One day, I realized we were just two robots relying on our previous programming to complete the daily tasks we had been assigned.
When I finally made the choice to go out on my own for the first time in over a decade, I was terrified. I didn’t know how to be alone.
Or did I?
The truth was, I had felt alone in the relationship for most of the last 10 years. I packed up my things and moved out of our house and into a tiny one-bedroom apartment that I adored. For the next year, I would explore my new-found freedom as a single woman. I was 35 years old.
Almost immediately after ending my long-term relationship, I found myself in a heated affair. I was remaining unattached, so it was exciting and fun. I gave myself permission to really be single. While the affair was short-lived, it taught me that I did, in fact, have the ability to completely be myself with another person without fear of self-judgment.
After the affair was over, I decided not to see anyone else for a while. I had been in a relationship for so long, I had forgotten what it was like to even go on a date. I needed time alone to get reacquainted with myself.
For the next six months, I filled my time with my work, my friends and my mindfulness practices. During that time, I declared that I was finished pleasing everyone else. It was time for me to find true happiness, for the sake of just being happy.
It was around this time that I made the decision to move across the country and start a new life.
I figured that since I was going to be moving 2,400 miles away, there was no point in trying to find someone until I got settled in my new environment. I focused my last two months in my town on simply having fun. I became a tourist in my own back yard; visiting as many of the local hot spots as I could. I dove deeply into my meditation, yoga and Nia practices. My search for Mr. Right in my hometown came to an end.
Three weeks before I was scheduled to make the big move, I ran into him. He was a friend of mine. We had known each other for about two years. When we met, we were both in relationships, but as I later found out, we had been attracted to each other right from the beginning. We became friends, but for two years we kept our distance.
I was walking to my favorite lunch spot when I ran into him. I waved, and he made his way over to me.
“I’m single now,” he whispered as he wrapped his arms around me.
I suddenly couldn’t move or speak. He grabbed my phone and put his number in it and instructed me to call him, and then he walked away.
I didn’t call him. I was planning to leave the state in less than a month. It would be foolish to get involved with a man knowing that I only had a few weeks left in town, wouldn’t it?
I let the possibilities float through my mind for a couple of days. What if…
I snapped back to reality by returning to my yoga practice. It was in a yoga class focusing on living in the moment that I suddenly became aware of the fact that I could be passing up a fantastic experience.
“If mindfulness is all about being fully present in each moment, then why was I letting my thoughts and judgments get in the way?” I thought to myself.
I decided right then and there that I would call him the next day, only I didn’t get the chance.
That night I took myself out and ended up at one of my favorite local hangouts. As soon as I walked in, I saw him sitting at the end of the bar waving to me. The first thought that crossed my mind was, “Oh shit. Here we go.”
I joined him for a drink, and we talked until the bar closed. Then we moved outside and talked for another hour. We decided to see each other over the next several weeks, knowing that I would be moving across the country. We didn’t feel the need to define our arrangement or label our relationship.
We let it develop organically, moment by moment. There was no need to attach to one another, only to enjoy our time together. What resulted from this simple understanding was a beautiful romance.
He was open to learning about mindfulness and practicing with me. Because we were choosing to stay in the present moment, we were able to be ourselves. We already knew how this was going to end, so there were no expectations, no plans, and no pressure. This enabled us to ask and receive and enjoy each other completely and without judgment.
Because I was fully present, I can recall almost every moment I spent with him in exquisite detail. That’s more than I can say for my nearly 16 year relationship, in which mindfulness was not practiced actively.
After the first week together, we spent a weekend in the mountains. It was refreshing to be unplugged from the world with no agenda and no electronics. We spent time reading, cooking, and naming the constellations on top of the mountain in the middle of the night. We spent time in silence together, just being.
It was then that I knew I wanted him to make the trip across the country with me. I was nervous about asking him, because we had only been seeing each other for a short time.
We talked it over, and the next day I received a text: “Let’s go!”
We only had a few weeks left together, and I was beginning to get used to being treated like a princess with all the home cooked meals, weekends in the country, playing on swing sets, reading to each other, and snuggling by the fireplace. I felt like I was in a Nicholas Sparks movie.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Driving across the country with him was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. One of my favorite memories from the trip was when we were chasing the sunset in Middle-of-Nowhere, Kansas. We were both in awe of how beautiful the sky was, but we were not in a place where we could stop to admire it. Eventually, we stopped for gas, and I was presented with a beautiful rose the color of the sunset – orange, yellow, red, and pink.
During a brief stay in Kansas City, MO, we got caught in a thunderstorm with some of the most amazing lightning I have ever seen. We decided to seize the moment and dance in the rain. We danced on the sidewalk outside a club, and at one point I looked up, and the people inside were actually clapping for us.
In St. Louis, we stopped to frolic near the Gateway Arch. We played in the grass and took the time to really appreciate the serene beauty of the park near the Arch. I felt like a kid again as we ran barefoot through the grass.
One of my favorite memories of the road trip was at the Grand Canyon. He had never been there before, and I was excited to share this special place with him. We made it there just before sunset.
The Grand Canyon is the one place on this planet that completely stops me in my tracks. All the thoughts in my mind melt away, and I can feel the stillness there. I am so grateful to have shared that moment with him.
We walked along the edge of the Grand Canyon holding hands, stopping every so often to admire the wondrous beauty. As the sun went down, we sat and watched the canyon change colors. He held me close and leaned over and kissed me. I asked him what that was for, and he said that it just felt right. And it did.
So, how does the story end?
Just like we knew it would all along. We have made the conscious decision to remain friends. There were many beautiful moments along that journey, and I believe that my mindfulness practices have enabled me to recall them in such detail. I have never been so completely present with another person in my life.
This experience taught me to be patient with myself and to recognize when I am slipping into my old patterns of attachment—I had been accustomed to giving more of myself in past relationships, but this one taught me to give and receive equally.
It allowed me to let my guard down and be vulnerable, and most importantly, it taught me to say “yes” to life.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Brandie Smith/Editor: Bryonie Wise