THE QUEST FOR TRUE LIFE


 Image via Kinfolk 

Image via Kinfolk 

Everything has the potential for beauty; just by the very fact that it exists.

BY: MARISOL B.

I had planned to finish a different piece I began to write. I even wrote about it on social media, to somehow "make it official", and create some accountability. My exhausted mind and body have not cooperated much, though. I have been fighting an upper respiratory infection for the last three weeks; which in turn translates into ending and beginning the year in a very unexpected manner.

I decided to start writing this new post, because as I laid in bed, I heard from the other side of the room that a friend had texted, asking for help. She was asking for prayers for her boyfriend, since he had attempted suicide.

The truth is that when I heard the first phrase; "our friend is asking for help", my tired and ill self thought: "I hope it is not something too big, I don't think I am up for very much at the moment", and then, when I heard the actual request, my heart sank and my mind pondered immediately.

I pondered about so much, I could not help but to take action. I knew I had to make myself jump out of bed, turn to pen and paper (or keyboard and screen), and start writing.

No matter what comes out in the end; this piece does not seek perfect phrases or composition. This piece is very vulnerable, very transparent; very raw. It is also heartfelt and necessary, and it speaks to each soul it happens to comes across.

WE ARE FLAWED

Earlier this morning, I heard a beautiful reflection. It spoke of the flaws within this world. The ones we each carry along our lives. The ways in which we fail to do good to ourselves and others. 

It spoke of the way we try to minimize these faults, and even pretend they are not there. Also about the heavy weight they carry on our souls and shoulders; one that even the most skilled kneading does not seem to get rid of.

The reality is that we are all flawed, we are all vulnerable; but that is the very thing that allows us to be a lot more open to what is truly good and beautiful within us. It is the moment we acknowledge our weakness, that our true strength comes to light.

We are made for love and mercy, but it is impossible to be on the receiving end of either one of these, as long as we pretend that we can handle life on our own. That we are supposed to live to a standard of perfection; rather than one of grace.

It is the moment we acknowledge our weakness, that our true strength comes to light.

LIVING OUR UNIQUE STORY

I ignore what kind of pressure and burden is within the life of that one person wanting to end it. I know we all have a story to tell; one with moments of joy and grief, all the same. I just hope that we all remember that we are not alone.

I have fallen into the trap of being afraid of pieces of my own story, or of uncertainty of various types. This space has always existed with the pure intention of bringing up the very beauty that will remind each and everyone of us not to fall prey to the lies; however, in the process I tend to forget.

Let's not let that happen! Let us keep moving forward in the direction of goodness, truth, and beauty!

Let us tell the stories that are being woven within each heart, and never cease to value that wonderful gift we've been given (for however many years); the one of existence.

LIVING INTENTIONALLY

There are many ways in which we can be reminded of the great possibility that life holds, no matter what turn it takes. Having great conviction for how much we are loved and valued, despite our flaws is crucial to life.

Taking care of every area of life contributes to overall wellbeing, so being very constant and intentional about how we feed our body, mind, heart, and soul plays a daily role as well.

Beautyfound's Manifesto talks about life, love, our daily work, passion, compassion, growth, service and the importance of maintaining a sense of wonder.

Having great conviction for how much we are loved and valued, despite our flaws is crucial to life.

NEVER GIVE UP

No matter how heavy the burden seems to get, be grateful for the gift of life. The truth is that everything has the potential for beauty; just by the very fact that it exists. Let's ask ourselves of the many ways in which we can add even more life to our existence. Let's do it both; for ourselves, and others.

Open the door to love and mercy; they are always knocking, ready to fill us with new life.


I hope you find this little space inviting and inspiring to remind us of the beauty that life constantly holds. Stay a while, and come back often.

 

A BRAVE AND BEAUTIFUL LIFE

On Friday evening, I received a text asking whether I was up for movie night. I agreed to pick one up on my way home, and as I browsed the selections, one of them jumped out at me; The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (inspired by James Thurber's classic). I excitedly remembered it was on my 'to watch list' and suggested it to my Friday night date (a.k.a. husband), but he did not seem to agree with my choice (he mentioned it did not have top reviews). However skeptic of popular movie reviews, I decided to move on and rent something different...

Saturday afternoon, while at home, the television was on and my husband happily added that the film I wanted, was premiering on HBO in exactly 40 minutes (a bit serendipitous). I happily planned to watch, telling myself that if it was bad, I could simply turn the power button off...

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.
— LIFE magazine's motto within the movie
 FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A MUNDANE AND ORDINARY LIFE -- ONE FILLED WITH SHAME.

FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A MUNDANE AND ORDINARY LIFE -- ONE FILLED WITH SHAME.

 TO THE PERSPECTIVE OF A BRAVE WAY OF LIFE  -- ONE FILLED WITH PURPOSE

TO THE PERSPECTIVE OF A BRAVE WAY OF LIFE  -- ONE FILLED WITH PURPOSE

As soon as the movie began to play, I was fascinated by the use of blue hues throughout the scenes (subtly contrasted by the orange hue of clementine cake). I loved the photography and the motto of LIFE magazine, the place where the main character worked day in and day out, in a devoted manner.

As Walter looked all over for negative #25; the one representing the quintessence of life, I heard of the courage of going into the unknown, the making of a brave man, purpose, bold choices (clearly represented by the red of the rental car and red hiking gear), moving forward, beauty, and the present moment.

I was inspired...

There is a scene, where a photographer is silently waiting for a snow leopard to show himself on top of the Himalayas. He explains that they call the snow leopard the ghost cat, because it never lets itself be seen. He adds as well, that beautiful things don't ask for attention. When the moment finally arrives, he decides to live through it, to take it all in, in the present moment. He chooses not to be distracted by the clicking of his camera. He keeps the image deep within the soul. Then he moves on to play a soccer match with local people, and decides to be present to them as well.

The above lines might not make sense, I don't know, but they are an attempt to encourage you to live your LIFE with great courage, to give your best in the little things you do everyday, because they matter and are part of a whole; bigger than we can imagine. Be not afraid, and love much, dare much, and keep moving forward.

As I finished watching the film, the sun was setting through the horizon and the sky outside the windows had a lovely blue hue. It was a beautiful moment; one of those that was not photographed or fully described within these lines, but one that was lived and kept deep within the soul...

For those of you that have not seen the film; I encourage you to see it, as it will allow you to remember the purpose of ordinary/everyday work, as well as out of the ordinary adventures. For those that have, I encourage you to comment on the good aspects you were able to find. I believe this is the type of film that requires a simple disposition and open heart, in order to grasp its meaning.

A LESSON IN COMPASSION


These past couple of days I have meditated upon our ability to be compassionate towards each other within a number of circumstances.

On Monday night, I found out about the passing of actor Robin Williams, and my heart was quite sad after hearing the news. I am not the kind of person that obsesses with celebrities; in fact, my mother always made it a point to teach us to look at everyone as mortal humans and beautiful souls; regardless of their social status. I believe this has allowed me to give consistent treatment to anyone from a homeless out in the streets, to a powerful public figure.

I have read and watched different reactions on the topic; especially around the fact that Mr. Williams' dead is attributed to suicide, and the fact that he was undergoing depression. I understand many of the points being made, and many with great intentions, but what I believe many of these opinions are lacking, is compassion.

I believe that before we go on to express our own minds and sentiments, we must stop and suffer with those we are referring to. We must arrive to a place of understanding, and continue from there. I believe we must first assume the best in each other, and offer objective viewpoints afterwards. As Brené Brown describes within her many studies of vulnerability; we are in dire need of being truly compassionate, empathic, and authentically human.

I would like to leave you with words from one of our dear team members, currently residing in Copenhagen. She has pondered about the same topic, and offers a point of view from a spiritual standpoint; which I believe has great value and invites us to compassion:

-- Her words were written spontaneously and from the heart; and are shared below, without edition.

I've seen so many; too many, posts and articles about depression today, and none satisfy me. I've attended two funerals of people lost to #suicide. A year ago I asked a bishop in Rio de Janeiro about it, specifically about a teen from my church that we miss very much. I failed at fighting back tears as I faced my own confusion (and a bit embarrassed holding a mic in front of the international audience). He replied so softly that it hurt. "I am so sorry this happened. We can only do our best. But we are not God. God is God. Trust him." (OK, it sounded better when he said it) There are some places so dark that we cannot understand. But God can. He isn't only in the light. He meets us wherever we are. He's there too, with those people that are completely lost and hopeless. Only God knows those hearts. And only He can judge. And I begin to understand that only He can love with perfect love. We are so bad at it when it's not easy! It makes us so mad when some can get away with not living up to our standards of holiness and then receiving mercy. Our confusion and our stubbornness in understanding and judging everything can be our enemy, even when we have the best intentions. If God, the most just and powerful, is LOVE, his mercy is greater than anything we can imagine. It takes a big dose of humility, faith, and trust to understand that. We are so much like the prodigal son's brother. Of course, we shouldn't downplay suicide. I was especially disturbed by those quoting Aladdin telling Genie (voice of Robin Williams) that he has been set free. There is no freedom in feeling that your existence is not important. It is a prison for that person and for the people left behind to grieve. But instead of focusing on that darkness, we can focus on something we can do and can understand: light! hope! If we are so privileged to know and live light and hope and are not privileged to understand suicide, maybe, just maybe, what we should do is share that light and hope with those contemplating suicide. It comes in so many ways and many times; in the little things, and the big and precious thing called: sharing your time! Maybe it won't always be enough. But then maybe, just maybe, we can bring joy into their lives. Maybe it will disappear quickly, but maybe it won't! Maybe it will stay, and maybe it will heal a little wound you didn't know was there. Maybe you could save a life. Imagine that! That's all I understand and that's all I can do, and by doing just that, I will witness God be God and our hearts renew.

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

Cynthia M. currently resides in Copenhagen, Denmark; working within the communications team at the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office in Europe. She is a great ambassador of everything that is good, true, and beautiful.

WE ARE MADE FOR LOVE

 image via  mes dames

image via mes dames

Victor Frankl; who labored in four different concentration camps, including Auschwitz; was able to find great meaning and purpose in the midst of great suffering.

Within his book, Man's Search for Meaning, he describes a morning when he was marching in line to his work site and found himself thinking about his beloved wife. He wondered whether she was better off at her own camp site and described the following scene:

"And as we stumbled up for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew; each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise."

Frankl then describes his realization for that which is usually described by great poets, and proceeds to add:

"Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart:

The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.

In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way -an honorable way- in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment."

The above words ring true to our lives and the fuel by which we are moved towards noble pursuits. We are made for love and our actions are rightfully propelled by this most profound virtue.

In a world filled with fast images and great stimulation, it is relevant to pause and reflect on our ability to fill our lives with authentic love; one that is artfully shaped into a more perfected version with the passing of time.

It was interesting to listen to the many thoughts and insights of many during the one day of the year devoted to the celebration of love. Lee H. Baucom, Ph.D.; shared: "Saint Valentine, was imprisoned for an act of civil disobedience.  He continued to marry couples, in spite of an injunction against marriages.  The king had decreed that weddings were illegal, as he wanted young men to be unencumbered by families, so they could go fight his wars.  Valentine believed in love and commitment.  He continued to marry couples.  And he paid the price.

His sainthood was about committed love — not just a simple romantic notion."

Sometimes we might get caught up in the ideal of romanticism and lose a perspective of a more meaningful and heroic love; one that constantly gives itself in the ordinary, and is able to thrive through the extraordinary.

I would like to include a selection of instagram bits shared in the name of love:

01 | "Love hard where there is love to be had"

02 | A simple little note

03 | "Happy love day" and a wonderful "Dance Party"

04 | Another dance party

05 | And yet another brilliant party!

Finally, a little quote to reflect upon:

May your lives be filled with moments of deep and meaningful love.

CONQUERING FEAR

We have all found ourselves in situations of fear, where action for a noble ideal is required. We may fear the response of others might not be favorable or that failure might result. There is; however, an internal attitude that pushes forward and encourages each of us to take risks.

As Marc Ecko describes; "We are designed, consciously or unconsciously, to default to some degree of fear - or reluctance". It is up to us whether to be discouraged or to forge ahead with a clear sense of why is it that we are doing something in the first place.

Our ideal is beauty; yet, we may be discouraged by unfavorable news regarding health, economy or threatened peace. We might be paralyzed by the thought that things might go in a direction of chaos, but just as a Japanese Proverb says " Fear is only as deep as the mind allows".

GETTING OVER FEAR

The most important step is to take action (regardless of how small) , in the right direction. Make a discerning decision based on your gut feeling. After this, think of the worst case scenario, and finally; think about the fact that most people in your situation are also scared, so conquering your fear will give you a beautiful head start.

DON'T LOSE YOURSELF

Many times, fear serves as a distraction to our intentions and what needs to take place. Whether fear keeps us from speaking up in favor of a noble cause, leading a positive endeavor, or quite simply, living at peace; we must not lose sight of a polarized goal and remind ourselves of the big picture.

"Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter" - Francis Chan

KEEP FAITHFUL

Regardless of the situation, allow your faith to keep you going. Know that others are fighting similar battles and look to support one another. Sometimes all it takes is sharing our fears with the right people and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, but firm in the fact that we are not alone. 

FORGE AHEAD

Keep moving forward and do not lose sight of the beauty that surrounds you.  *