If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
Twelfth Night Act 1, scene 1, 1-3
My recent post on the volunteers at Valley State Prison for Women, Chowchilla California made me aware of the deficit of nurture and nourishment in that environment. It also called my attention to the ways I "imprison" myself by putting pressure on myself with unnecessary demands and expectations.
The key word is "should". I should do this, I should do that; I, or they, should have done - that is the most ridiculous one because you cannot change the past. Past shoulds show up as guilt, blame, shame, anger and resentment and can last a long time. Should is in the word "shoulder". Shoulder tension and pain can come as a result of carrying a burden of shoulds.
Are you ever a hard taskmaster on yourself? Do you restrict yourself with the demands you make? Do you take the necessary time for recreation, active or otherwise? I confess. I sometimes deprive myself of feeling joy, spontaneity and the trust that ultimately everything is just fine.
So how about creating nurturing time? Maybe do nothing, just for a few minutes. To savour the moment and the riches it holds for you. To just be. What is the food of love for you?
I think Mrs Life directed me to live in France, especially in the South, so that I would learn from this culture that takes so much pleasure in life. There is the passion for good food and the time to enjoy it. The artistic climate is very rich - visually we live in a feast. Lunchtime and holidays are a religion. And of course, there is sex. But actually, I think it is more the tender gentleness of romance I observe here in people of all ages.
Whether we like it or not, we are emerging into a new world that is unknown to us. We do not know how the economy will right itself. We are showered with uncertainties. Life seems to be way beyond our control. Our old strategies for coping do not work so well. It can be scary. The unknown often is.
And yet. What if we were like infants growing up in this new world? Could we still have fun, laugh, play and enjoy ourselves, anyway?
"One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms open. One has to embrace the world like a lover."
When we grow up, the infant nature within us still yearns for and is enriched by the nourishing we give to ourselves. Now, more than ever, we need the reassurance that taking good care of ourselves gives. Our core essence returns our loving attention with gifts of wisdom, insight, creativity and intuition. We do need those. In our innocence is an inner sense, a guiding light.
Your food of love might be taking a walk in nature, touching leaves and trees, feeling the breeze on your skin, dipping your toes into a cool running stream, running across a sandy beach, jumping in puddles. The childlike aspect of ourselves has curiosity and wonder, confined to the ever expansive moment, and is vital throughout life. I have friends in their 90's who are more spirited and youthful than many half their age.
Could you speak kind words to yourself, telling yourself the things you would like to hear? Words of appreciation, loving and acknowledgment. Listen to what is true for you, and honour it. Give yourself a hug. Better still, share a hug. Spend time with young children. Play with them.
The human spirit that you are is beautiful. When you focus on the beauty, you will discover more of it. You will BEcome it. You will BE who you truly are.
"Nature is ourselves, to be cherished and explored."
Davide de Angelis
We can yet be free to fly like the wind - in our imagination, in our openness and our willingness to catch the new spirit of this age. Hope or despair? Hope is a choice of the heart.
You can choose to value yourself, to awaken your heart, to treasure your precious essence not with material extravagance but with thoughtfulness, kindness and consideration. You are a cherished part of creation. You always have been. In this moment right now, take a deep breath, smile, relax and touch in to the sweetness of your inner nature.
"If you stay focused in the now, you can have tremendous joy and great fun wherever you find yourself. It's all your attitude, and your attitude is your choice."
What are the best ways you nourish and nurture yourself? Could you upgrade your caring for yourself this summer? What is fun for you that you have not done for a long time?