I’ve lived many lifetimes. Years ago I was the celebrant at a Crones Crowning, a celebration of four older women honouring their passage into the mature adulthood phase of their lives. Each spoke about their lives, and I learned a lot from these wise women. The most significant thing I heard that day was what one woman said about love. I’ll call her Betty (not her real name).
Betty had had many loves – human, animal and other – over her long life. She made light of the fact that the human ones were the most challenging and inconsistent, but her true love from childhood to present day was music. She studied music, played instruments and sang alone and in groups, and had done this all her life.
She described music as her most faithful and constant love. She remarked how she could take it with her anywhere, engage with it anytime. While there were aspects of her music connection that were challenged and difficult, it remained a pleasure and a comfort. It never failed her.
I loved this story because it helped me put “love” into perspective, and think about my life differently.
I also heard in Betty’s story the hallmarks of love. I felt her devotion and commitment as she spoke about the time and attention she gave to her art. She described how her relationship had evolved over her life time from childhood to now – her tastes in music, the amount of space it took in her life at various times, and how it deepened over the years. What stood out was the pleasure she received and no doubt gave from this relationship.
Betty’s story inspired me to take all my “loves” more seriously, and to value and nurture them as the life-sustaining elements they are. This meant moving them from the sidelines to central placement, allowing myself time to study and learn more about the things I love to experience. Like pleasure, the focus is on making life-loves a priority versus an occasional pastime.
I have a lot of loves – variety being the spice of life. From my recent trip to California, I see them clearly. My loves circle around a few interrelated elements:
• food and the garden-to-table endeavor of it,
• plants and the other cycle-of-life earth elements, and
• travel, which often pulls them all together.
I love to explore, learn and enjoy these interests in novel places in the world.
I went to California for poetry study and stayed a bit longer to write and have a reprieve from the Canadian winter. During that time, I did a solo road trip for four days up the coast from San Francisco, across to the north Napa Valley and then back down to Berkeley. Some friends asked if I’d be lonely. But I wasn’t. I had my faithful companions with me, the ocean and rugged terrain, all new landscapes to take in, new trees and plant life to get to know, gardens in spring bloom to savour and the food and drink scene in Napa. It felt like coming to Mecca.
I took and received a lot of pleasure in these experiences. As I’ve said before, love is a requirement for pleasure. Pleasure lights us up, and it’s very personal… that road trip to someone else might have been uninspiring. Acknowledging and making central the aspects of living that we uniquely love, helps us feel more ourselves. They help us to know our real selves. Like any relationship, life loves require engagement. We must let ourselves be devoted and committed to reap the deeper sustaining benefits.
I invite you to consider your loves in this light. Give yourself permission to feed your loves, giving them the time, attention and value they deserve. They will become a lifeline you can count on – well worth the investment.
Next entry: Pleasures in Disguise
Madeline combines her experience as a gifted teacher and facilitator with her exquisite sensitivity to guide us into unlocking pleasure. In her gentle way she helps us to make friends with our bodies, softening the places where we feel resistance, shame and pain and learn how to tune into the myriad sensations of pleasure. She embodies her teaching and the expression of her own pleasure is contagious. Madeline creates a safe space to (re)discover that we are wired for pleasure and can overcome the negative conditioning of fear, trauma, and messages of “not good enough”.