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It’s now been a couple of years since my ex called me to tell me that he fell in love with another woman.
In these two years, I spent a lot of time working on myself.
I read books like I breathed the air, listened to podcasts, attended workshops and events, and took courses and classes. As I started to feel the ground form securely under my feet once again, I began a happy campaign of loving myself.
I declared to the world that I was now “in a relationship,” and my significant other was me. Actively, I started dating myself. I checked in with myself every day, lavished myself with loving, sincere compliments, made my favorite meals while dancing barefoot in the kitchen, gleefully licking the spices from my fingertips to my favorite, sexy music.
Before going to bed, I’d ask myself how my day was, and I’d listen. It had been a satisfying and fulfilling relationship, and I felt peaceful and free.
Still, there was a missing piece. I couldn’t hold myself—like, physically. I mean, I could, but wrapping my arms around my waist just didn’t feel the same as having a pair of strong, sturdy arms around me, with someone else’s breath on my neck. I surely couldn’t kiss myself, and I love kissing, especially deep, passionate kissing. Plus, I love to share! Yes, I can give myself all of the lovely things in life that I have ever dreamed of having, but somehow it lacked the exponential excitement that goes along with sharing stuff.
So, after more than two years of having an ironclad wall around myself, complete with a moat with resident sharks, crocodiles, and explosives, I decided to open up and let some men into my life and possibly my heart. No sooner than that curious thought escaped my lips, did amazing, available, potential suitors magically appear.
My knee-jerk reaction to meeting people took me by complete surprise. Immediately, I would begin evaluating and scanning them to check off boxes on a list I wasn’t even aware I had. This wasn’t about compatibility. It was total and complete “futurizing” of the relationship.
How will this work long-term? Is this really “the one?” Is this guy being real or just putting on a good show?
In frustration, I wrote to a friend to vent about my own, offensive-to-myself behavior. Why was I doing this? Why couldn’t I just enjoy the experience and see where it would lead?
He wrote back with the old sand-in-the-hand metaphor. You know, the one that goes like this:
“Relationships—of all kinds—are like sand held in your hand. Held loosely, with an open hand, the sand remains where it is. The minute you close your hand and squeeze tightly to hold on, the sand trickles through your fingers. You may hold onto it, but most will be spilled. A relationship is like that. Held loosely, with respect and freedom for the other person, it is likely to remain intact. But hold too tightly, too possessively, and the relationship slips away and is lost.” ~ Kaleel Jamison
Ah…yes. Hold on loosely. (Wasn’t that a song in the 80s?) In an effort to keep what we have and not disinherit stuff, we should just relax and be still. Stand with a hand open and ready to receive. I felt like this was sage advice. It sounded good anyway.
Still, something deep inside was making me uncomfortable. So, I did what I have learned to do when I am uneasy: I sat. Closing my eyes, going within, I sat in meditation. All was peaceful and quiet in my house because it was the middle of the night. I listened to my breath, felt my heart, and held the question loosely in my mind.
And then, it hit me. A clear, vivid image: my answer. Amazed, I opened my gratitude-filled eyes (yes, I was crying…happy tears) and glanced over at the clock. What I had thought had been about an hour had actually been four! Laughing, I grabbed my bedside journal to harvest what I had reaped under the quiet moonlight and then went to sleep.
Upon waking, I reread my scribbles. It still felt true! And since I do fully believe that everything in life is sweeter when it is shared, I shall share it with you.
Try it on and see if it fits. I won’t be offended if it’s not your style:
When we discover something in life that we like, we want to hold on to it. Possess it. Have it all the time. This covers more than just relationships, although that category sure fits under this umbrella.
So, we have our happy mound full of sand sitting in our hand, and we are so careful not to disturb it. Keep loose, don’t do anything too abrupt, be careful. All the while we are forgetting to look at where we are standing.
We are on the beach!
Look around us: there is sand for days! Where do you think you got that sand in your hand to begin with? I mean, yes, it’s nice to have a pretty hand full of sand, to look at it, appreciate it, love it.
Maybe you like the way it glitters in the sun, or you found a pretty shell. And yes, you can stand there and hold it and love it as long as it pleases you. But you needn’t do that in a state of fear. If the sand should fall from your hand or be blown away by the wind, you can bend back over and get some more. If you saw a pretty shell and accidentally dropped it, you can pick it back up. Or you can get a whole different scoop of sand, filled with infinite possibilities.
And yes, maybe you pick up a handful that has some garbage in it, because sometimes there’s trash at the beach, or maybe you got some yucky old sand…that’s okay! You can just drop that little load and move yourself down the beach and try again. You don’t need to cry and moan about the gross sand you just saw. You don’t need to say, “Well, my days with sand are over.” No! Just go grab yourself another scoop. You’re at the beach—just try again!
You might find a seashell, a baby sea turtle, a little crab—who knows. But we never need to be afraid of running out, even of the good stuff. The universe, our world, life, has an infinite supply of everything just waiting for our discovery.
We are here to play: to giggle and laugh in the sweet sunshine, to find pretty shells and build sandcastles. We are here to explore: to find what pleases us and discover what we don’t like. We are here to adventure: why stand in one spot afraid of losing the sand in your hand when there is an entire beach waiting for your attention?
Confidently grounded in this meditation-revelation, my life has since opened up in ways I could never have imagined nor predicted. Beautiful, amazing people have poured into my life, including the precious man with whom I have since been building a magical life. He is my spectacular, one of a kind shell that I wear lightly around my neck (and I am his).
Together, we merrily comb the beach, happily exploring for more hidden treasures, including the creation of profitable and fulfilling careers, self-growth and expansion, tantric and karmic love with our soulmate, new ways to define and experience “family,” and so on.
We feel like kids, lost at play under the sweet sun of infinity that life promises us. And there’s plenty of room, if you want to join us.
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