We have an interesting juxtaposition of holidays today. It's both Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday.
While Valentine's Day tends to focus rather strongly on romantic love, it's still a day for celebrating love in general. Ash Wednesday reminds us that we will all die and return to dust.
Love (of all kinds) is the most precious thing about our lives and the one thing that most of us long for above all others.
Death and loss is the most painful thing about our lives and what most of us fear above all others.
They seem like opposite ends of the spectrum, don't they?
And yet, this combination of holidays today reminds us that they are much more intertwined that we like to imagine.
Our losses hurt precisely because of our love for the people, things, relationships, dreams, places, beliefs, or circumstances that we have lost.
At the same time, the people and things that we love are all the more precious to us because we know that we will lose them one day. The future loss reminds us not to take them for granted here and now.
As we discover this connection between love and loss for ourselves through the painful experience of loss, it becomes tempting to wall ourselves off and refuse to let ourselves love deeply to protect ourselves from the pain of future loss.
Allowing our fear to build these walls can feel like safety, but those walls also keep out the most beautiful parts of living by denying ourselves the love we long to give and to receive. That denial keeps us feeling half-alive and drowning in the pain of loneliness.
The harder but more productive solution is to learn to hold love and loss together in a more productive tension by allowing ourselves to love wholeheartedly and to deal healthily with our inevitable losses.
In fact, it's only by learning to deal healthily with our losses that we are able to continue loving wholeheartedly.
That's part of what kintsugi living is all about. This learning to face the pain and grief of our losses fully and completely so that they heal in ways that allow us to keep our hearts open to continuing to love wholeheartedly may be the most valuable "gold" our scars offer us, if we do the work to learn the lesson.
How well are you able to hold your heart open to loving wholeheartedly in the face of loss of the people, things, relationships, dreams, places, beliefs, or circumstances that you love? Where is there room to do this better?
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