love. week thirty seven.
city. rome, italy
The first 20 or 30 minutes after I wake up are often the hardest moments in my day. And today was no exception.
It’s during this time that I feel the most alone. And, since I’m basically free of distractions, my mind often just ruminates over my nearest and dearest anxieties, frustrations, disappointments, mistakes…
But today, when I finally made it out of bed and was sipping a coffee on the balcony, I started to think about one of my clients and began to daydream about new strategies I could use to help him.
This then reminded me of a different project I’d been considering, (a way to help runners improve their time), and realized that I could get some feedback from my dad, who used to be a runner, before he was injured about 25 years back. I thought that even if he wasn’t exactly up-to-date and probably wouldn’t have much useful advice, it would still be a great way to connect with my dad and broaden our relationship.
Finally, I recalled that a woman who had joined my writing club (here in Rome) had been having trouble finding a suitable writing partner, so I thought that I’d reach out to her and offer to partner up with her.
I suddenly noticed that my mood improved considerably. My anxieties about my own struggles were replaced with an excitement to help my friends, family, partners. While it may be overcast and rainy out on the porch, some internal sunshine broke through the clouds in my heart.
(Something that I’ve noticed is that helping others is almost 100% risk free. Even if my efforts are not successful, the mere process of reaching out and lending a hand is mutually rewarding, and deepens my relationships.)
This reminded me of a conversation I recently had on Facebook Messenger with a friend.
S: Do you believe that ‘what belongs to you will actually find you or you have to look for it’?
Me: What do you mean, “belongs to you”? Does anything actually belong to us?
S: See that's the thing I'm not so sure about. Cause I don't really think it does, but yea
Me: It’s a good question. I have some thoughts but it’s part of a longer discussion. So probably not for right now. But maybe if you enjoy looking for things, that can’t hurt right?
S: Yup absolutely
Me: That’s how I try to look at it. Not about belonging or finding. But as expressing and developing myself. Like that’s what I try to focus on. I see myself as a bundle of potential. And through my creativity I can start to realize myself, or turn what’s inside me into what’s outside of me. So life becomes a bit more artistic and random. And less goal-oriented or attainment-oriented
I know this doesn’t really answer your question, but it’s the direction I start from. One of creation, rather than possession.
Does that make any sense?
S: Of course it does, agreed in some way
Me: And disagreed in some ways?
S: Well not entirely. I for one like to think we're all alone but go through life together and i don't focus that much on myself. I mean i do ofc focus as much as i can on myself but somehow just as much on the people in my life who i love.
Me: That’s a good point. I see myself as completely 100% alone. But what you said now makes me wonder why I’m so self conscious.
Maybe this is where my own family would fit in. Which I would one day like to have.
And then our conversation spiraled into a discussion of children and so on.
There was this one time, about 8 years ago, that the chief rabbi of Europe, the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, gave a talk at my university. And all the way at the end of a lecture filled with religion, theology, and morality, he made a remark that immediately lodged itself in my head. He said in a rather shy tone, “I know it’s cliché, but the thing that has brought the most happiness to my life has been the work I’ve done to help others.” The crazy thing is that I believe him.
“i do ofc focus as much as i can on myself but somehow just as much on the people in my life”
And today that made all the difference.