Fruits are natural outcomes. A farmer's control over the fruit comes in only two ways:
1. through the seed he plants (or allows others to plant)
2. through his cultivation (or the cultivation of others)
This 2013, I hope you will be vigilant about the seeds you plant in your life by choosing wisely the sites, the books, the shows, the music, the advice, the opinions, the food, and whatever else you consume. What you plant and cultivate in your physical body will dictate the fruit of your body. What you plant and cultivate in your emotional self will dictate your emotional fruit. What you plant and cultivate in your mind will dictate your intellectual fruit. What you plant and cultivate in your spirit will dictate your spiritual fruit.
All of my life's regrets have come from planting and cultivating the wrong things in my heart. Unless I want more of the same, I need to change the seeds I plant, I need to change what I cultivate.
It isn't rocket science.
Now, without further ado, my lessons learned on life, loss, and love.
“I know, but no matter what I choose I have to live with it. Forever. I have to be able to go forward and not look back anymore. Can you understand that?”
- The Notebook
More isn't always better, Linus. Sometimes it's just more.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
- Albert Einstein
Life is a beautiful gift from God. Our time on Earth is a precious moment that is hopefully filled with thousands of other precious moments. My dad always told my brothers and I, that every day was like a train loading cargo, every hour represented a box car, when that box car passed we couldn't store anything anymore. It was gone forever. He taught us to make the most of our time, because someday our train would arrive, and what we are left with are the things we stored in times past. "So make the most of your time", he would say.
I know now what it means to make the most of my time. And it started by realizing what living a beautiful life IS NOT.
The beautiful life is not about the length of my days, but that faith, hope, and love fill my everyday.
It isn't about living the prescribed life of the world, but realizing, and hopefully realizing sooner than later, that the life I have means the world - I need to cherish each day.
It is not about valuing the amassing of amounts, but about whether we are amassing amounts of true value.
- More lovers do not mean more love (it may mean more baggage)
- More food does not mean more satisfaction (it may mean for fat)
- More money does not mean more security (it may mean more inequality)
- More power does not mean more freedom (it may mean more corruption)
- More experience does not mean more fulfilment (it may mean more jadedness)
- More recognition does not mean more identity (it may mean more pride - which is insecurity)
- More laughter does not mean more joy (it may mean more superficiality)
- More friends do not mean more approval (it may mean more phoneys)
- More activity does not mean more success (it may mean more stress)
- More pomp does not mean more meaning (it may mean more mirages)
It is best to learn this early.
The beautiful life is not about avoiding suffering, but about finding something, someone, worth suffering for.
A beautiful life is not a search for one's self, but about seeking to love others and in the process finding myself.
A beautiful life is not about butterflies in my stomach, but about commitment that does not flutter away.
The beautiful life is not about the being able to do whatever I want, when I want, how I want, why I want, but about finding freedom in the boundaries of exclusive intimacy.
More on a beautiful life coming up, please read on...
“The reason it hurts so much to separate is because our souls are connected. Maybe they always have been and will be. Maybe we've lived a thousand lives before this one and in each of them we've found each other. And maybe each time, we've been forced apart for the same reasons. That means that this goodbye is both a goodbye for the past ten thousand years and a prelude to what will come.”
- The Notebook
You know what's wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You're chicken, you've got no guts. You're afraid to stick out your chin and say, "Okay, life's a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that's the only chance anybody's got for real happiness." You call yourself a free spirit, a "wild thing," and you're terrified somebody's gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you're already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it's not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It's wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.
[takes out the ring and throws it in Holly's lap]
Here. I've been carrying this thing around for months. I don't want it anymore.
- Paul Varjak, Breakfast at Tiffany's
Rosebushes and other plants produce more buds than the plant can sustain. The plant has enough life and resources to feed and nurture only so many buds to their full potential; it can't bring all of them to full bloom. In order for the bush to thrive, a certain number of buds have to go...
He (the caretaker) prunes them...
...You have to know the standard you are pruning towards
- Henry Cloud
I don't particularly like endings, especially when it's the end of a good story. But every story has to end at some point, in one way or another, and it's really so that a new one can begin - hopefully, if we choose right, a more beautiful story. Our lives don't have to be like a movie series, always a comedy, or always a romance, or always a horror story, and each sequel just more of the same.
Why settle when your life can be an epic?
Whether the end comes because of necessity or choice, here are some of my thoughts on loss:
- When you prune a bud from a bush it is pruned forever.
- It is not just about pruning, but about knowing what I am pruning towards. If I prune every time there is trouble, pain, risk, or threat, without knowing what I am pruning to become, I run the risk of pruning forever what could have been a beautiful rose.
- If my life is looking like some badly written, badly produced, badly casted, badly directed, badly acted, badly edited movie that is badly received - I need to change the writer, change the producer, change the cast, change the director, change my acting and my co-actors, and change the editor. I need to lose them and it is a good loss.
- The loss of a man (or woman) who has lived a beautiful life will be beautifully remembered. Though sad, his memory will bring up gratitude. It's the opposite for those who live selfishly. Their memory will be resented.
- If we are always losing in the same way, then it's maybe time we played a different way, or maybe it's time we played a different game.
- The worst reasons to lose are because of pride and fear. The best reasons to let go are faith, hope, and love - and interestingly, they are also the best reasons to hold on.
- How do we know if we should hold on or let go? Ask yourself, "Is my holding on because of faith, hope, and love?" If it is not, let go.
- Ask yourself too, "Is my letting go because of faith, hope, and love?" If it is not, hold on until you have clarity. Like I said earlier, once you prune a bud from a bush, it is pruned forever.
- The dead cannot hear our words. Don't wait until it's too late to say and do the things you need to do. Too late is when our time with a person has run out, when it is now impossible for them to receive from us.
- Always, always, always make sure, that when you say goodbye, you left that life better than when you said hello.
Losses usually come as bad news, but the good news is coming up. I told you, more on a beautiful life. Please read on...
“She would tell him what she wanted in her life--her hopes and dreams for the future--and he would listen intently and then promise to make it all come true. And the way he said it made her believe him, and she knew how much he meant to her.”
“You and I were different. We came from different worlds, and yet you were the one who taught me the value of love. You showed me what it was like to care for another, and I am better because of it. I don't want you to ever forget that.”
- The Notebook
I love you, Lord, and I lift my voice
To worship you, Oh my soul rejoice!
Take joy, my King, in what you hear
May it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear
Let's go anywhere, as long as I'm with you.
- My mother, Marie Bonifacio, to my dad
- My mother, Marie Bonifacio, to my dad
I've learned a lot this year. Admittedly, mostly from my mistakes - which I think is the absolutely worst way to learn because it's so very painful. But we must learn one way or another, and stubborn people like me sometimes have to really get knocked hard. Part of the learning process is losing things. That's the reality. I always question people who say that the end result of correcting something is that it is restored back as if nothing happened. Anyone who lives in the real world knows that's not true. That's why there are things called mistakes, and that's why we avoid them as much as we can. When we make them, we learn, we move, and if moving on means a return, then great. If it means a complete change, great as well. What's important is that you learn.
And the three greatest lessons I learned this year are:
1. Love what's true
2. Truly love
We need both for a meaningful life.
We look for love for a reason. It is because we know, even the most simple-minded of us understands, that what gives existence meaning is to love and be loved. That's not the problem.
The first problem is when we love lies. We love masks. We love ideas. We love concepts. We love scripts. We love set designs. We love fabricated people and they love a fabricated us. We love best feet forward. We love fleeting feelings. We love the idea of love more than living a life of love, and every day, every chance we get to manufacture that feeling, with something, with someone, with whoever, we take our chance.
As I've come to realize, we are prostitutes walking up and down an alley, waiting for the best offer, and when the transaction ends, on to the next customer, on to the next deal, on to the next exchange. We keep going and going and going until it is the only life we know.
We are Holly Golightly.
This leads us to the second problem. Because we have loved lies, we are inevitably let down, we are disappointed, hurt, frustrated, confused, perplexed. We ask ourselves, "How did that happen? It felt so real?", so we try again, then the same thing happens, and again, and with each time we hold a little more back for ourselves, we put up walls, we put on armour, and that's the second problem, we no longer truly love. Why? With each hurt we become more afraid, and this also hits our pride, "Am I really this cheap? Am I really this worthless?"
We cannot truly love if our choices are dictated by our pride and fear. Just as in business, when we shortchange others we really shortchange ourselves.
Where is the hope?
I told you there were three lessons:
He answered: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind..."
(From Luke 10:27)
(From Luke 10:27)
Here's the big lesson of 2012:
LOVE GOD - He is true. He is as true as anything can be. He IS truth.
LOVE GOD TRULY - love Him with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.
I don't care what your experience is with life, with loss, and with love, if you will turn away from the lies you love, if you will gaze upon the beauty of God, and if you will love Him, without reservations, without excuses, without big and tiny infidelities, with all your soul (your emotions, your will), all your strength (your energy), and with all your mind (your thinking, your ideas), 2013, and every year forward will get more beautiful and more beautiful.
Maybe all the lessons of my life were meant to teach me this one thing. I'm so very happy I finally learned it.
I wish you a blessed 2013!