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passion Tag

Like a Virgin

sandro botticelliNew – fresh, innocent, exciting … we are curious primates, irresistibly drawn to things that look different, that we have not tried before. Advertisers bait the hook with words and images that attract our insatiable appetite for novelty and variety. Our hunger for “newness” is in direct conflict with the jaded repetition of most of our very ordinary lives. The searing surge of sexual attraction we feel when we fall in love, soon dissipates as we grapple with the practical realities of earning a living, calling the plumber to fix the blocked kitchen drain, packing school lunches, and giving our harassed spouse a peck on the cheek as he hurries out the door to join the flight to the concrete city hive.

How do we see enchantment, magic in the ill-tempered scowl of our frazzled life partner who has been sitting behind a desk all day? Where do we find a frisson of excitement in distant eyes? How do we continue, year after year, to arch with delight at a touch that has grown so familiar and find intimacy in the tangle of tasks that require left brain engagement? When do we allow time for romantic reverie, erotic fantasy conjured up in expansive imaginings? Alain de Bolton, in his new book, How to Think More about Sex, proposes that the ethos of modern marriage “with its insane ambitions and its insistence that one person can plausibly hope to embody the eternal sexual and emotional solution to another’s every need” sets us up for bitter disappointment. He suggests that love, sex and family were wisely differentiated from one another historically for very good reasons. Like oil and water, they do not mix. The elevated high of romantic love that inspired the chaste troubadours in the twelfth century to write sublimely beautiful songs and achingly beautiful poems was fuelled by the sleepless suffering of unrequited love. Raising a family and earning a living were never urgent desires of lusty eighteenth century Parisian libertines. Says Bolton, “the impulse to raise a family has been well known to the largest share of humanity since our earliest upright days in East Africa. In all this time, however, it seems to have occurred to almost no one (until very recently, evolutionary speaking) that this project might need to be fused together with constant sexual desire as well as frequent sensations of romantic longing at the sight of a fellow parent at the breakfast table.”

Love and marriage. Horses and carriages. We are conditioned, admonished, to balance our wet erotic urges with the harness of constrained convention. And yet, the swoon of a stolen kiss, the delight of a brush of skin, the intoxicating scent of newness, awakens the beast within our bellies. What we think is romance, or love, nearly always comes in the guise of someone who makes us feel all shiny and new. And the fee at the tollgate of adultery may bankrupt us, liberate us, or lead us on a circular road right back where we started – new horse but same carriage.

goyaIn Greek mythology Thanatos was the daemon of death. Thanatos and Eros dance together, two polarised forces. Eros thrusting into the hot rush of life. Thanatos sucking us like the undertow into cold dark waters of death. Perhaps the monumental challenge we face as modern-day humans is to navigate through the narrow inlet between these two Titanic forces, paying homage to both.

Without Eros there would be no great works of art, no new inventions, no unfurling of passion that galvanises us to cross continents, discover the hero within, experience events that crack us open like juicy pomegranates and flood our lives with sweet pink juices. Eros confirms our existence is real, vital, infinitely creative.

The icy blackness of Thanatos quenches our flame, pulls us down to the stark finality of endings. Ego deaths are accompanied by a retinue of unspeakable isolation and grief. Loss of a sense of Self so often ensues after a dance in the flames that burn us black, leave us charred, irrevocably. When we step aboard the sailboat of a committed long-term relationship, we are required to use the compass of common sense to deal with the myriad practicalities of survival. We are summoned to bend with the winds of change as they hurl fiercely against our sails. We are asked to be humbled by our own humanness and the contradictions of living with another who is so different and yet so familiar as to seem invisible to the arrow of our ardour.

It may be impossible to feel weak at the knees with a heated rush of lust when our rumpled partner staggers through the front door after a long day at the office. It may be ludicrous to feel anything but resignation as he burps in unrestrained satisfaction, leaves the loo seat up, uses the last of the milk, and clips his toenails while sitting on the side of the bed naked and not so sexily exposed.

red rose and bumA night in an unfamiliar hotel, a steamy romp on fresh new sheets while the kids are at a sleep over might fan the flame of passion. Maybe it could be a shared adventure with just a hint of danger that throws you trembling, quite unexpectedly, together once more. Homo not-so-sapiens may require plenty of thrills, spills and surprise to bring out the hirsute wild man or wild woman in us all.

So as you lie together on rumpled sheets, or hold his hand and feel his skin against yours, remember to open the window wide. See in the softness of the moonlight the innocence of his familiar face. Remember there was enchantment there once. And if we use our artist’s eye and our poet’s imagination, we will find it there again.

older man and woman

Madonna –  Like a Virgin

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Careful of my Heart

After the initial parabola of passion, affairs can be a descent into hell. A roller-coaster ride that skewers our heart. Scalds us with guilt and grief in the after-shock of transcendent bliss. In virtually every marriage code in virtually every society, adultery is unequivocally prohibited. In ancient Babylonia, punishment was death by drowning. And incredibly, in many places today, the perpetrators of this dastardly crime against the laws of man are flogged – 100 stripes, or stoned to death. For millions more, the punishment is divorce, financial ruin, loss of their children, ostracism from their families, or worst of all,  the solemn burial of their authentic feelings, and their true selves deep within a life of quiet desperation. Increasingly in these financially austere times estranged couples rattle about in the empty shell of their marriage because of the mortgage repayments. Some stick it out for the sake of the children, the elderly parents, blocking their ears to the silent scream of indifference which brutalises the soul. The tender memory of the lover’s embrace bruises the skin for years to come, long after the albatross of the affair has been killed and thrown into the ocean depths.

Adultery comes from Latin which means to pollute, or corrupt.”  What is polluted? Trust? Ownership?

“Morality is a human creation. The Universe does not judge,” says Gary Zukav.

The psychological view sounds more like a laboratory study of Planet of the Apes. Therapists, like little boys, pull the legs off butterflies, break things into smaller and smaller pieces so that they can see how they work. Marriage counsellors urge couples to “work harder” at their relationships; they come up with strategies, hormones, and formulae to fit the  broken pieces together again. In her book Adultery, Louise DeSalvo comments, “ perhaps adultery makes evolutionary sense: perhaps it is a pesky way our species guarantees its survival.” David Barash, in The Myth of Monogamy proposes, “ When it comes to human beings, there’s absolutely no question about monogamy being natural. It’s not. The male’s goal is to make sure his genes live on and therefore he sets out to fertilize as many females as possible. Women, on the other hand, spend nine months pregnant and then have to care for their children. So it’s in the interest of the woman to find one man who will stay with her, or at least help her take care of her offspring, and some might argue that the man is preferably wealthy or powerful. Females, by nature, are choosier and less opportunistic.” 

If only it were that simple. So often, in Love, the dots don’t join. Like the waxing and the waning of the moon, the human heart has phases of light when we turn to face the full magnificence of the sun; times of darkness, as we enfold the mystery of our passion close to our breast. There’s no book of rules, no etiquette to guide us through the perilous seas of Love. Do we throw everything away if Love comes knocking at the door, splintering our hearts, battering down the walls of the life we have built so carefully? Do we risk all for passion, adventure, the unknown, when the rugged terrain of a long relationship has been charted, co-habited. Do we stay, knowing there will always be more soul work, more growth work, as we grind away the sharp edges? Do we fall from the trapeze if there are no waiting hands to catch us? Do we encounter the paradox of forbidden Love, swooning as our hearts sweeten with joy while our minds crucify us between the thieves of Shame and Sorrow? If we’re the one that leaves, our parting of ways will involve a dismemberment of the life we knew. An annihilation of our old self. There will be dark nights when we wake with fear gnawing through our belly.

It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while and looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires”, says Clarissa Pinkola Estes. At some time or another, we will come to the crossroads of choice, and the awakening of consciousness. So do we hone what we have into what our heart longs for? Do we differentiate, individuate, heal our childhood hunger … if we can’t be with the one we love, do we love the one we’re with?  Or do we risk it all to leap like a salmon over the rocks, tumble over waterfalls following our instincts as a new impetus of growth calls us up to swim as if our life depends on it. And it does.

There is some kiss we want with our whole lives,” said Rumi.  Some of us may search for that kiss through our adolescence, our experimental twenties, and often turbulent thirties. We stuff the anger, the longing deep down.  Numb our longing with the busy-ness of life. Is this as good as it gets, we ask ourselves, filling the hole in our heart with longer hours at the computer, the gym, the office, or another glass of wine when we get home.

It may take the catalyst of an affair to expose the cracks in the chalice of our marriage. It may take the sweet kiss of just one person to awaken us from our slumber. And one day, we take the risk…

Re-birthing our souls is never as simple as leaving the husk of a desiccated relationship, changing jobs, walking the Camino, or falling in love with someone new. It is an arduous task, which requires endurance… and courage. Unless we’re willing to look honestly at ourselves, merely switching partners will bring the same issues we tried to escape from with our previous partner, often leaving us marooned, stripped of our innocence. But if we are conscious, and serious about the tugging at our hearts, there are rich lessons in each new relationship, as we retrieve the long-buried parts of ourselves — our passion, our sensuality, our joy — our deceitful, destructive  Shadow.

When, at last, we come to trust our own instincts, hear and respect our own voices, feel valuable enough to touch that fertile, erotic, vulnerable part of our self, buried beneath the sediments of cultural conditioning and wipe the sleep from our own eyes, we dare to risk bursting into blossom.

Our choices in love are sacred. Authentic love feels like a reunion, recognition, and if our ways must part, the love we once shared remains, all-ways.

Painting by Frida Kahlo

Tracy Chapman

You and your sweet smile
You and all your tantalizing ways
You and your honey lips
You and all the sweet things that they say
You and your wild wild ways
One day you just up and walked away

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Landslide

 

Change is a word, like the outworn “transformation”, that paradoxically stops us in our tracks. We may like the idea of changing. But when it comes to significant changes in our lives, most of us recoil from the bracing air that blasts from the open doorway. We retreat to the familiarity of our routines, familiar landscapes, in a world where the speed of change seems faster than the human psyche can contain. Sometimes our souls cannot catch up with the rush of lives lived to the incessant pulse of noise, busyness. Though, there are times when the flame of our courage burns brighter, illuminating the way out of the familiar, into the unknown.  Market research shows that at those threshold times of transition in our lives –  the end of a relationship, the springtime of a new love affair, loss of a job, move to a new country, or a  pregnancy, are fertile beds to grow new habits – and shopping behaviours! If we are to seize these fleeting moments, make lasting changes, set off on new adventures, we require more than courage. We need a sense of meaning.

Many of us suffer from a sense of something missing. It’s not our relationships, our friendships, or our work. A vague loss of meaning, purpose, enshrouds us like a thick fog. Despite a plethora of self-help books, YouTube offerings, workshops, support groups that offer a better way to love, to live. Despite having the tools, holding the key to The Secret, we still cannot find a way to turn our lives around in an irrevocably changing world.

We may feel we are going through the motions, even living a lie. We may experience a delectable plume of joy, a rush of enthusiasm as a holiday, a new project, a new passion, displaces the sense of emptiness –  for a while. The intense peacefulness after a meditation retreat, the peak experience of falling in love, or a spiritual awakening, stirs up the murky mud from the depths of our psyche, bringing the darkness into clearer view. We awaken the demons from the dark folds of our unconscious and find ourselves raging, or  hollow and sorrowful, after a delicious interlude of light and love. So often, we may feel we are moving backwards rather than forward in our spiritual growth, as we enter that dank valley that St. John of the Cross called “the dark night of the soul”.

Every beginning marks the end of something.  Says Marianne Williamson, “It’s when we face the darkness squarely in the eye – in ourselves and in the world – that we begin at last to see the light. And that is the alchemy of personal transformation. In the midst of the deepest, darkest night, when we feel most humbled by life, the faint shadow of our wings begins to appear. Only when we have faced the limits of what we can do, does it begin to dawn on us the limitlessness of what God can do.”

Many of us enter our spiritual and psychological growth as consumers, shopping around for therapists, healers, gurus, to get us “fixed” more quickly. Some of us compare ourselves to other, “more spiritually evolved”  people than ourselves, only to judge ourselves as lacking. The competitive, consumer model will not work if we want authentic lives. There are many astrological significators for the various stages of our growth. These celestial cycles are often painful and necessarily slow. “The caterpillar is luckier than we are. It goes through its transformation in the relative peace and security of a cocoon. We, however, may be in the middle of a profound shift in our unfoldment and growth and yet, more often than not, are expected to go on with our daily life as if nothing is happening,” says Dr. Roberto Assagioli, founder of psychosynthesis. These messy crises are a natural part of the cycle of growth. We plummet from the peaks dishevelled and disheartened by what seems to be the enormity of the forces that obstruct our movement to where we long to be.  When we hear, “you were much better before you started meditating/ going to therapy/yoga…” know our mettle is being tested. When we flatline into despair, go a little further. Anatole France says, “All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” It is in the landslides of change, as we are covered with the muddy debris of our choices, that we discover our alignment with the seasons of our lives, our belonging to this beautiful Earth. It is when we courageously climb down from the mountain, do we discover a new landscape, a new season in our lives…. Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide. This is for you, Bev …

 

I took my love and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Mmm Mmm… I don’t know… Mmm Mmm… Mmm Mmm…

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too

 

 

 

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Miracles Happen

There comes a moment, and often many of them, in most relationships when one partner says to the other: “I feel no passion for you anymore; there’s no spark.”  Sometimes she adds: “And there never was!”  Often it’s said in anger, sometimes in despair.  But there’s no mistaking the soul-wrenching pain that lies beneath.  And beneath the pain…?

We tell ourselves deeply disempowering stories about passion, and falling in and out of love.  Scientists talk of neurotransmitters and pheromones, secreted and acted upon beyond our control.  Psychotherapists remind us of childhood wants and wounds that overwhelm us.  Even believers in “The Secret” hesitate, invoking the mysterious workings of the soul in this, the most vital of life’s callings.  Because, of course, very few of us indeed have never been either the pained sender or the unwilling recipient of this primal rejection.  And fewer still have been willing or able to recover a relationship when one of us has declared love dead.  Where are the miracles?

And yet, none of the mystics or visionaries has ever said “Faith can move mountains… except that one.”  Neville, for example, is quite clear: “Man’s chief delusion is his conviction that there are causes other than his own state of consciousness.”  (This was written in the late 1950s; woman was not being excluded.)  Neale Donald Walsch is equally unambiguous that thought is the sponsor of all creation.  So why do these miracles seem so seldom to happen?

Follow the pain trail.  Back to the very tip of its deepest tap root.  Can you recall that moment of tender or flaming passion when you said “I love you?”  And gently, ever so gently, can you touch the immediately following though, however fleeting?  Ah yes, there it is.  For so many of us it was “Does she love me back?”; “Does he love me less than I love him?”  And, on high alert, we find the evidence, however flimsy, to prove our case over days, months or years.  Slowly or rapidly, we count the wounds and the hurts.  Passion cannot long survive such enumeration.

And so, if you’ve lately said or heard the dreaded declaration, and you still believe in your relationship, your first task is to find the self-doubt, self-fear, self-hatred—whatever it may be—that caused you to believe you were not sufficiently loved.  For that single belief alone is powerful enough to derail any train of thought, however positive.

And then choose to believe that Miracles Happen.

The stream of passion and love
Flows both towards you and away
You alone decide which direction to look

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No More I Love Yous

Love never dies when soul meets soul. Our souls never stop loving the significant people who appear as actors in the various scenes in the play of our lives. Because once we ignite the flame of love, no matter how briefly, or how fiercely, devastatingly, that flame burns and chars, Love endures, long after we part, long after we die.

I met my former husband for lunch yesterday. He appeared taller, younger, and happier than I have seen him in  years. “She’s the One,” he said, eyes sparkling. “I’m going to ask her to marry me.” Still sprinkled with the glitter of his happiness, I left this man I had lived with for 26 years, my heart a – bloom with flowers of joy for him, for her. There are never No More I Love Yous. The container of marriage may fracture and break under the avalanche of an affair, a cot death, an intrusive in-law. Love affairs are extinguished not with a bang but a whimper, realtionships stagnate as the current of passion dwindles to a trickle. Even in the No More I love Yous, are small seeds of renewal.  There are really no “lessons” to be learnt so we do not make the same “mistake “again.  Our marriages are the holy sanctums for the in-breath and out-breath, the cycles, and twists, of our soul. From the moment we say our wedding vows, through all the in the years we may spend grinding off each others’ rough edges, even in the heartbreak and despair of the endings, are our soul’s rites of passage; our circling Home.

A divorce can be a sacred act of renewal, if we transcend the power plays, the anger,  discard the role of Victim.  Love can be transformed into a caring friendship if we are willing to step into Gratitude for all the memories, and experiences of our past, that have made us who we are today. When we are able to look into the eyes of our former tormentor-husband, wife, lover, mother, father, friend – and feel the lotus flower of compassion blossom in our heart, then we will know our own Wholeness. The ancient Greeks knew that Love wears interchangeable costumes: Agape meant the deepest sense of true love, that sense of contentment and mellowness, the holding of another in the highest regard. Eros was understood as  passionate love, sensual desire, and intimate love, which did not have to be sexual – it could be the power of beholding something beautiful within that person. Philia was the love of friendship we feel in community and family. So what is this thing, called Love? Even after death, divorce, frozen years of separation, the sacred vows reverberate. We may find, after the atomic fallout, the love we never dared admit, even to ourselves, is there still. We find a wedding photograph, a piece of jewellery, a gift given in the innocence of that love that carries a fragrance of sweet memory. There is remains a fragment of something noble and pure in the the vows we made all those years ago.

These days when I go to weddings, what I celebrate is the Hope that comes, an invited guest, to the bridal table. The noble belief in a love that will endure as the dark storm clouds gather on the horizon. First marriages are sprinkled with Hope and Great Expectations that we believe no man will tear asunder. Second and third marriages are more sober affairs. Jean Kerry said wryly, “being divorced is like being hit by a Mack truck. If you live through it, you start looking very carefully to the right and to the left.” We are not always wise in the choices we make. We do not always listen to our inner guidance. But in our fumbling, in our folly, in our delusions, will always be the seed of great passion and enduring love.

Says Marion  Woodman,  “real love happens when soul in the body meets soul in the body. Not in that disembodied world of spirit where we want to be perfect, but in life, where we’re changing the diapers of the one we love who is dying, swabbing the lips, doing things we never thought we could do. Stripped of all pride, of everything unreal, we have no false modesty. Where soul meets soul that is Love.”

How can there ever be No More I Love Yous when Love never dies. It simply changes form.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5z7R-5Znoc

 

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Nothing Compares

Nothing compares to the passion, pain, the alchemy of unrequited love. The obsessive love of an extraordinary relationship may quench our soul’s thirst for drama and intensity. It may be the conduit for the fantasy and the creative Muse that is lacking from the soft comfort of our daily lives. When soul meets soul across time and space, this is no aberration, no psychological projection, and no insane fantasy.

In the realm of the soul, falling in love with someone we see everyday at the office, connect with on Facebook, or meet by “chance” at the video store, is beyond the crassness of words, the literalism of psychology. It is a process of wonderous self-discovery. Each relationship that touches our soul leads us into dialogue with the Divine.  “The fiery moments of a passionate experience are moments of wholeness and totality,” Anais Nin says. We may smugly moralise about obsessive attractions, narcissistic impulses, selfish behaviour, or in psychological parlance, talk about “withdrawing projections,” as we find the qualities that draw us to adore the Beloved, are of course, within ourselves. All very white picket fence, manicured lawn.  Pleasantville.  Nothing compares to the white hot passion of erotic obsession. Nothing compares to the Phoenix Love that leads us into a deeper, more soulful life. What we feel in our hearts, in our bodies, cannot be captured by cliches, emblamed with words.

Erotic love is not to be demeaned as merely a projection for our unlived life, but  celebrated as  an Angel of Awakening to the Countenance of our boundless Imagination. Our soul hungers for the Beloved, and our imagination lures us into the fathomless ocean of desire embodied in the flesh.  The symbolism of astrological transits from the outer planets to personal ones often suggest that passionate obsessions are not aberrations to be caged or cauterised. They are the wings that carry us to a life of more connection, to an acceptance of Who we are. W.H Auden writes powerfully of the crooked heart in each one of us that we must confront when the firebird of passionate love blazes through the dark depths of our psyche: “O stand, stand at the window as the tears scald and start; you shall love your crooked neighbour with your crooked heart.”

Many of us are now experiencing a sense of living on the edge of a world on the brink of great change.  Like two tectonic plates, Pluto in earthy Capricorn squares off against Uranus in fiery Aries, a crucible of heated, irrevocable change in our lives, in society, in the way we embrace the urge towards authenticity.  The emergence of the new always coincides with the breakdown of the old, so be awake to the whispers, the coincidences, the power of attraction, the wild song of Passion in whatever form it appears in your life these coming months.

I watched The Bridges of Madison County (again) and cried (again) for Francesca and Robert, these middle-aged soul mates. I cried for the choice Francesca made to shackle her desire for Robert Kincaid to duty and responsibility. Throughout history, men and women have made heart-wrenching choices to honour duty above the authentic call of their soul. So many of us have been raised in family awash with the tears of unspoken secrets. Lovers kept hidden, passion doused by fear, authenticity shamed into submission. Says John O’Donahue, “your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself.”

As Neptune swims into the deep waters of Pisces in February 2012, will we be willing to be still and listen to the passionate pieces of ourselves that call to us through music, poetry, the whisper of the wind? As we loosen the bonds of reason, will our souls ignite with delight in our Beloved who may be Clark Kent, Superman or Superwoman? Our  liquid light diamon that urges us to open our hearts, and sing our song.

What is your Passion, what calls you today to celebrate the Authentic You? “Passion is part of Real Life’s package – we were created by Love, for love, to love. If we’re unsure of our passions we must continue excavating until we rediscover them, for it we don’t give outward expression to our passions in little ways every day, we will eventually experience self-immolation – the spontaneous combustion of our souls,” says Sarah Ban Beathnach.

 http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2cdyy_sinead-o-connor-nothing-compares-2_music   Sinead O’ Connor

 

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To Begin Again

 

Endings can be unspeakably painful. Like a folding deck of cards, an ending can evoke a long-buried memory of a lacerating loss, open archives of ancient pain.

 A friendship fades, a partnership dissolves, a Lover leaves, a life partner dies. Our default response is to ferret for some kind of logical reason; to dive into a chasm of rejection and abandonment; or find a balm to soothe the seeping wound. For years, we pick at the scabs of these endings, stew in the bitterness of our own bile, our ego waiting for an admission, an explanation, an apology that never comes.

We self-righteously blame the other for committing the savage crime of rupture. For answering their soul’s call to move on. Like a little child sucking her thumb, we latch on the unforgiveable flaws and non-negotiable behaviours, crumbs of comfort. It would never have worked means “I did not have the courage, or I did not love enough to …”

So often, the astrological symbolism in a client’s birth chart suggests that unconsciously it was she or he that felt the call of her soul to break free from the putrefying corpse of a relationship long deceased.  The composite chart, which contains the soul of the relationship itself, with all its fateful twists and turns, may reflect this need to part, or to re-invent the relationship, some time before it actually happens. Relationships, like the orbits of the planets, cycles of nature, have seasons too. Some never survive the cruel frosts of winter. Others thrust new green shoots after vigorous pruning.

 We all have our own narratives about times of endings. One of the great challenges at these times is to look at the stories we tell ourselves with gentleness and compassion. To acknowledge what is, to imagine what might be.  To accept the initiation into a new soul-ful experience, which always comes through a death  in some shape or form.  Perhaps only one of us feels that the relationship has become lifeless. And the heart rending decision to leave must be carried alone. Is this being callous, selfish, or honouring of the relationship and the one we once loved? Out of the seed of Love blossoms Death, so that Love can grow a-new.

Our relationships, our lives, demand courage and endurance. Courage to Hope again. Endurance to gracefully embrace the cycles of life and death. The wisdom to breathe, and embrace a new beginning.

“After all, computers crash, people die, relationships fall apart. The best we can do is breathe and reboot.” Sex and the City

 

 

 

 

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