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I don’t believe in indefinite happiness.
But I do believe in momentarily sadness, hurt, and hopelessness. I believe in opening our aching hearts and feeling it all. I believe in all sorts of emotions.
No matter how happy or peaceful we might feel right now, at the core of each and everyone one of us there is considerable grief. When we hear the word grief, we might instantly think of physical death. But death is everywhere, in every second, in every place.
Almost every day, we grieve moments. We grieve what was and what could be. We grieve our old selves and what we could have said, done, felt, achieved. We grieve life and what it hasn’t given us.
I often think of the antidote to emotions. There must be something that lives beyond our rickety feelings—far away from grief and so distant from happiness. There must be something in between that’s constant, hopeful, abiding.
Whenever I seek this eternal place that exists within me, I open The Big Red Book. I read Rumi and I remember what he said about love: not seasonal. Unlike fleeting emotions, love is what holds the world together. It’s what keeps us sane.
And I can’t but think about what’s happening in the world right now. How the absence of love, compassion, and empathy is destroying humanity. How “not wearing the shirt of love” is breaking apart families. How we don’t see the power of a “love exchange” and continue to jeopardize friendships, relationships, and bonds.
Yes, my heart is aching. No, I won’t hide from this pain. All I can do is love myself enough, understand myself enough, work on myself, and ultimately hope for the rest of the world to do the same—toward themselves and others.
“No Expectations” is one of my all-time favorite poems by Rumi. It soothes my (sometimes) hopeless and disappointed self. It gives me hope. It reassures me that love is the only way.
The poem is long, but I included a small portion that personally means a great deal to me:
A spirit that lives in this world
and does not wear the shirt of love,
such an existence is a deep disgrace.
Be foolishly in love,
because love is all there is.
There is no way into presence
except through a love exchange.
If someone asks, But what is love?
answer, Dissolving the will.
True freedom comes to those
who have escaped the questions
of freewill and fate.
Love is an emperor.
The two worlds play across him.
He barely notices their tumbling game.
Love and lover live in eternity.
Other desires are substitutes
for that way of being.
How long do you lay embracing a corpse?
Love rather the soul, which cannot be held.
Anything born in spring dies in the fall,
but love is not seasonal.