I sit here tonight with aching feet and a very satisfied smile on my face after two nights in a row of most excellent dancing. The clicking of my keyboard is being counterbalanced by the purr of my cat, Dylan, who lays on the desk, supervising my efforts, knowing I will stop every few minutes to pet his silky fur. The dancing exercises my body, releases endorphins and gives me really delightful human contact. But when it comes to the one individual who makes me feel completely loved and appreciated, Dylan has that one, hands down.
When I come home from work, the entire household meets me at the door, but Dylan is the one who looks up at me with those big, golden eyes and tells me in his own way that I am his world. He is the one who curls around my head at night and purrs me to sleep, and he’s the one who snuggles with me when I’m sick or just feeling a little blue (which happens pretty rarely these days!). He has taught me the true meaning of unconditional love, and is teaching Toby to be just as loving and attentive. Toby, however, is still somewhat self-centered and can’t understand why it isn’t always about him!
As humans, we lose sight of that unconditional kind of love; the love that doesn’t judge or set expectations, but just loves and accepts someone just the way they are. To be loved unconditionally is the greatest gift a person could receive, and to love unconditionally is a quality as close to perfect as we silly humans could ever possibly get. I think that, in striving to connect our humanity with our spirituality, it’s as simple and as complicated as learning to just love unconditionally. What I mean is that the idea itself seems simple, but to actually put it into practice is another story entirely.
I’ve heard it said that we love our children unconditionally, but do we really? It’s not that we stop loving them if they fail to meet our expectations which causes me to question the issue. It’s that we place expectations on them in the first place. One of the lessons I’ve been trying to embrace and master has been that of acceptance along with forgiveness. I endeavor, first, to love my children and accept the choices they have made without judgement or expectation. What makes it more difficult is that, as a parent, I want the very best for my children. It is very difficult to truly accept the fact that what is best to me may not be so for them. I raised them to be strong and independent, and part of that is the ability to make their own choices and learn from their own mistakes. When they’re five or ten years old, the parent typically knows what is best for the child, but when the child becomes an adult, we, as parents, need to do one of the hardest things we’ll ever face and just let our children go out and make choices and learn.
I think the story that brought this home to me most strongly had to do with a man who saw a butterfly struggling to get out of its cocoon. Thinking to help the butterfly, he got a pair of scissors and cut the cocoon open. Sadly, the butterfly was never able to fly because it needed the process of pushing its way out of the cocoon to make it’s wings able to carry it aloft. Our children are the same way. If we make the way simple for them all the time, they will never learn to put forth the effort to get something they really want, and will never rise to their full potential.
I know I made mistakes where my daughters were concerned. I went into battle for them on several occasions, only to discover afterwards that they hadn’t done their part to even deserve me fighting for them. It took me awhile to learn that I just had to let them suffer their own consequences, fall on their own faces and lose out on things so that they could learn to work for what they wanted in life. They were, essentially, seeing me live my own life one way while trying to simplify their lives, completely contrary to what I was teaching them by my actions. And in my case, the actions on behalf of myself were far better examples than what I was trying to do for them!
The short version of tonight’s babble is that loving someone unconditionally does not mean making their life easier for them in all ways, and taking away their responsibility for their own actions. Instead, it means loving them, regardless of the choices they make and also in spite of them. It means that, not only are your there for them to pick up the pieces, dust them off and send them back on their way, but you’re also there to share the triumphs, the successes and the choices which yield the results they wanted. And as an extra bonus, you’re less likely to piss them off by interfering in their lives!
My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am incredibly grateful for my dancing and the friends I’ve made in the dance community. They are truly amazing and diverse individuals.
2. I am grateful for unconditional love lessons as it helps me to learn, love and grow.
3. I am grateful for rainy nights because it makes the flowers grow and cleans the air, making everything smell fresh and new.
4. I am grateful for new opportunities to learn, grow and step outside my comfort zone.
5. I am grateful for opportunities to learn be more open and approachable.
Love and light.