LOVE AFTER LOVE (Derek Walcott)
“The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life. (emphasis added)“
Hello again my dear friends. I wanted to introduce you to one of my favorite poems, “Love After Love”, by Derek Walcott. It has been a long time since we last communicated and in the last 4 years, I have been busy greeting myself at my own front door, over and over again.
Truly greeting yourself, and deciding to love the deeps depths of your physical being and all the colors of your soul, is not easy. If it were, there wouldn’t be so many self-help books and Instagram quotes about it. A few years ago I was dealing with a lot of personal struggles and when I came across this poem, it inspired me to really love myself, really love my life and somehow obtain a level of happiness that I wasn’t sure even existed. I didn’t know how to even start. I saw this poem as an internal goal that I would probably never come close to achieving but something I still hoped for.
The timing was never “the right time” to fully feast on my life. I thought I needed to grow professionally, build on my life goals, strengthen my close relationships, work on a healthier body, and learn to forgive past pains. Don’t make the same mistake I did, as I have spent years waiting for the right time to fully embrace myself, my life, my love, and my happiness. It took me creating life and finally experiencing unconditional love for another being to realize that it was possible to have that same unconditional love for myself. Me, loving myself unconditionally, is still a project I am working on but the time has come where I can finally greet myself with elation. I feel more beautiful, more vibrant, more alive, more significant than I have ever felt before. After years of always hungering for more, today I am feasting on my life.
If you are waiting for the right time, I challenge you to greet yourself every morning, as sometimes the minutes in-between each sunrise can minimize your strengths, make you question your values, re-examine your relationships…still feast on your life. Know that you can continue to grow professionally, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally while loving yourself without any conditions and limits. Welcome both the changes and constants in your life. Praise yourself like you would your best friend. Forgive yourself like you would a close family member, who would never apologize for any wrongdoing, but you forgive anyways. Little by little, time after time, take back the pieces of your heart, whether you had given them to an unappreciating lover, unapologetic relationship, unfulfilling job, materialism, or a higher presence that left you empty. Return the pieces of your heart to yourself, for you are most deserving of your unconditional love. And one day, I hope you greet yourself with elation and feast on your life until your heart is full.
The following words were forwarded to me by one of my best friends. Unfortunately, I don’t know who the original author is, so I can’t give credit where credit is due, but it seems like someone read my mind and decided to write out my thoughts for me. Everyone goes through a period in their lives, where they hold on to things…whether it’s a past love, past pain, past memories, past happiness… And everyone goes through another period in their lives, where they are trying to let go. Some people succeed and some people never really do… So this is for everyone out there still learning to let go and I hope it gives you that extra strength. Speaking from personal experience…letting go, really is the best gift you can give yourself. I haven’t looked back since and I can honestly say, this is the happiest I have been in a very long time!
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear.
She let go of judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
… She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations
about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t utter one word.
She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go…