On why we need to love The Other

Dear quarter lives,

Some argue it is a basic human liberty to have faith in whatever knowledge we want, even if it has been proven to be false or heresy. Others argue that we live in society, therefore, every human action or liberty ought to be considered not only from the perspective of the individual but from the perspective of the collective as well. I cannot say which side I lean towards. I know that there are very valid arguments for both. There are beliefs that have very real consequences to the collective and so should not be considered lightly, for example, if a person believes there is nothing wrong with having sex with a minor, this belief doesn’t only affect the individual who believes this but is one that has real costs and consequences to the collective. So it is important to ask ourselves: When is the diversity of truth beneficial and when can it be harmful? Like everything, I suppose it is a matter of balance. We need there to be some people always who believe or who claim to know for certain something contrary to the rest of us; it allows us to know the boundaries of our own beliefs, of what we deem to be true, of where the borders of our morality lie.

For any society to be healthy and for the people and other living beings in it to coexist safely together, there must be a balance between freedom and truth because even the best of virtues in excess can be poisonous. Too much unchallenged truth turns into doctrine, and too much unchallenged freedom turns into chaos. We need the forces outside of us to constantly be in perfect tension with each other, just like a guitar string needs to be to produce the perfect melody. It is that constant tension between things that keeps everything in the universe working perfectly. It is that constant ebb and flow of forces that allows for balance to occur. Here tension acts as a peace keeper. And this is true even with the forces shaping our own internal experiences. If there is no back and forth between the voices within us, we would be too certain of ourselves, of our decisions, of who we are, of where we are. It is that little bit of doubt that creates the tiniest wiggle room necessary for transformation. We wouldn’t change or evolve if everything was so fixed in its way. It is the other that challenges, it is the other that helps us realise ourselves. It is the other too that invites us closer to balance. So why are we always trying so hard to eradicate the other?

Difference is beautiful and should be celebrated. And when it scares us, we should approach it with caution instead of immediately trying to extinguish it.

“The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.”

Rollo May

I will leave you here on this note to contemplate your own personal Others, maybe even say thank you to them for challenging you.

Till next time!

With love and always for peace,

S.A.

On Finding Home

Dear quarter lives, 

It seems that much of our twenties is shaped by this need to find our place in the world. To find where we belong. Where we are meant to root and grow and flourish. Many will travel far in pursuit of their dreams of belonging. Many will return to where they once left, only to realise that perhaps here is where it all is after all. Home is where we are. Home can be made anywhere as long as we are willing to make one. The thing is most of us expect to find it, to find this feeling of belonging, like we do with happiness. We pursue it, we chase it, even though we know deep down that belonging isn’t to be found, it is to be nurtured and created by us for us.

And when we finally decide to make a home for ourselves, first we will feel the need to choose a physical space and when we are in the process of choosing this space, we will find that we need to at least be able to picture ourselves living in that space, laughing in it, crying in it, belonging through it. It is important to note here that this space we are projecting our feelings of belonging onto does not in fact belong to us, it is merely a vessel through which we can channel our belonging-ness. Whether the space is shared with a partner or whether you are inhabiting it all on your own, you will notice that the space will soon resemble you and you it. Just like partners begin to look like one another, their features merge, the edges of their faces soften to meet the other’s, we too begin to soften as we grow closer to meet the world. We soften as we begin to realise we belong to the world. That here, everywhere, is our home. And that we, are the world’s home, too.

One piece of advice I have for all those in the earlier half of their twenties, don’t look so hard. Everything you actually want is closer than you think. But perhaps it is easy for me to stop seeking now because I’ve tried it. I’ve exhausted myself looking for where I belong, not realising how futile of an endeavor that was, since it is obvious that I belong everywhere. It can be overwhelming at first to realise that there isn’t perhaps a “meant-to-be place” for anyone, that we can all make the best of where we are, that the secret to a happy life is right in front of us and not as magical as we’d like it to be — and that all it really takes to live a good life is to first decide you actually want to live a good life and then to do the work it takes to see goodness again.

To all those struggling to root, it is okay to feel out of place. It is a natural part of growing up. Many of us leave our primary homes when we go to university and spend another whole decade searching for a new one. We search and search, trying to find the ideal place to root. But really everywhere is ideal to root. The thing is it is not a country or specific apartment we are rooting ourselves permanently in, it is this earth we are rooting permanently to. We are saying to her I accept you, I accept that I belong to you, I accept that you are my home. A lot of the innerwork I have done in my late twenties was in regards to rooting. I spent months meditating twice a day with the intention of grounding myself. And it is this grounding that has made me feel at home in my body and at home on this earth. It is this grounding that makes me feel safe enough to surf the darker turfs of my mind, because I know I am anchored well and can afford to imagine deeply if I wanted to. It is so so important for our minds to feel at home because if they don’t, they will constantly be overthinking, overworking and ultimately overheating trying to protect you from danger, because you see your mind needs confirmation from you that this is home and that it is safe to let your guard down. Your mind is waiting for you to realise that the earth has got you, that your angels got you, that god has you. So I cannot stress this enough: it is absolutely vital for the health of our minds that we root! Much of the intensity of whatever your mind presents will fade when you root. Downs won’t feel like you’re endlessly falling but rather perhaps a more controlled shallow dive where you are certain there is ground beneath you and air above you if you should need either. Feeling at home in yourself will not only change your experience of your mind but your whole world. And the first place where you will feel at home is in your heart, and when you’ve gotten used to your heart, travel to the rest of your body until finally you reach your mind, and you will find that all has calmed and settled. You have done it. You have found home.

With all my love and always for peace, 

S.A.  

On the Summer Blues

Dear quarter lives, 

Many are familiar with the Winter blues, we hear about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and often associate it automatically with the winter but it also affects some people in the summer. But other than SAD, the Summer, as beautiful and fun as it can be for many, it can also be quite intimidating to keep up with if you’re not feeling your best. Before the arrival of Summer, we see people begin to pay more attention to the shape of their bodies and what bathing suits and summer outfits they’ll be wearing to flaunt those bodies. And for many who don’t feel like their bodies are in shape, summer can be stressful. Equally too, for those who don’t feel their minds are in good shape, summer can be very overwhelming. Summer tends to be a season full of people, parties, travel, all in celebration of the “good summer vibe”. But if we’re not in good vibes ourselves, it can be quite intimidating to just be. Everyone is always expected to be smiling, to be happy and to be enjoying themselves. And that can put a lot of pressure on people’s minds if they are not there. It can also make someone feel very isolated in their minds, if they feel out of sync with the prevailing summer vibe. And there is nothing worse for a stressed out mind than isolation. Summer can make many people more depressed and more anxious precisely because they feel left out and excluded from this summer joy it seems the rest of the world is experiencing. This can make it very difficult for someone to reach out for help. Friends can seem further in the summer, not because they are physically far, but because the distance between their states of mind is far. One is way up and another way down, one ready to party and another just wants to have a one-on-one intimate dinner. So as summer has the potential to bring people who live far away closer, it can also push close people further apart. This is a reminder to be mindful of your friends, family, siblings and to be kind to those who find it more difficult to match the energy of the season. Remember we are all different, we all feel things in different intensities, we all have different abilities to adapt, but we are all human beings at the end of the day who sometimes need reassurance that we are cared for, that we are remembered, that we are good company and that there is nothing wrong with us.

Summer is a transitional season for many. Some people are in between school/university years. Others in between jobs. Others in between homes/countries. Some in between relationships and friendships. So as fun as summer can be, there can be a lot of anxiety around how things will go post summer. And as much as summer always comes with a sense of renewal, it is also a time for us to release and unwind before shifting again back into “real life” gear. And sometimes as much as there seems to be time for us to rest and rejuvenate, summer can offer a jam packed schedule of events, parties, spending time with family and friends, all at the same time. So it can be very confusing for our bodies and our minds both who are torn between wanting to rest and wanting to make the most out of the summer and connect with people. There is often this conflicting desire to disconnect and connect simultaneously which can often leave people just feeling very overwhelmed.

And as many travel and vacation during the summer, there are many others who cannot afford to do so, whether for financial reasons, health reasons, work reasons, or due to all the Covid travel restrictions worldwide. And with everyone posting their best summer moments on social media, this can leave many feeling a little blue. This is not to say feel guilty for having fun or for expressing it or sharing but it is just a reminder that we don’t all have the same summers. We can’t all summer. So be kind when sharing stories of your summer to someone who hasn’t gotten the chance to.

And because we are different, summer for many can be when they feel most alive but for others it can feel as lonely and as harsh as a cold dark winter, so be kind with your thoughts, invite someone out who you wouldn’t normally and always always ask how are you feeling.

May your summer be exactly what you need it to be. May you wild if you need to. May you dance, laugh and make out if you need to. May you sleep, meditate and rest if that’s what you need.

With love and always for peace, 

S.A.

On Love

Dear quarter lives,

Perhaps one of the most important experiences of living is falling in love. How we embrace love can tell us a lot about how we embrace so many other blessings coming our way. How much we trust ourselves to open up to love can tell us a lot about how much trust we have in other people and how safe we feel in the world. For those of us who went through a difficult early life, allowing ourselves to fall in love can be a serious challenge. We feel our hearts are already too fragile, too broken to handle any more breaking so we avoid love because we believe it is inevitable that pain should accompany love, that eventually we would lose those we love, whether to another person, to another lifestyle, or to death. And perhaps that is true to a certain extent, but it is also true that this love that we’ve been avoiding might be exactly what we need to mend and strengthen our hearts.

The pain we felt has unfortunately blurred all our memories of what love can do, but thankfully for us, our body always remembers. Our body still remembers the power of love to heal and that’s why it craves what it craves. Somehow along the way we have forgotten that as much as love has the power to cause pain, it too has the same power to heal. Love does indeed heal all wounds. And I am not just talking about falling in love with someone else here. I am talking first about allowing ourselves to fall in love with ourselves, to truly feel cherished by ourselves, to feel so lucky that we are who we are, that we are in the body we are in. And falling in love with ourselves might not be as easy as it can seem like it is with another. There perhaps isn’t a love at first sight thing that happens. Falling in love with ourselves requires a lot of hardwork, a lot of self-awareness, and most of all a lot of faith so that even when we struggle to feel loved, we let our faith in life carry us through and it is ultimately this belief that we are loved by life that supports our living. That faith is what carries me everyday through my self-doubt. It is what I choose to believe even when it makes no rational sense to put my faith there. Because the way I used to see the world and the proof that came so easy to me was not life affirming at all. I used to believe that the world is a scary and dangerous place and that belief made me constantly feel like I didn’t want to be alive, so I began this beautiful thing of choosing to believe differently and choosing to believe in life without demanding proof of its beauty or safety beforehand. I just made a choice to lend my faith to life. And I love that everyday I choose to love life. And I know if I want to I can choose to hate it. But I don’t because I want to love it. They don’t tell us this when we are younger, but love IS a choice. We choose to love our friends. We choose to love our work. We choose to love our bodies. It doesn’t just happen.

Love, at the end of the day, is energy and attention, so be mindful of where you put your love. Be conscious of who you give your love to, and be conscious what kind of love you are giving and attracting into your life. Love like our bodies comes in all shapes, colours, and sizes so find what vibes with you. Find your love language, your love tune and dance to it.

Love is always scarier to our minds that it is to our hearts. Our minds rely on a certain kind of rationality and when love breaks all those rules, our mind freaks out because it is no longer in control. And in that process of freaking out, be kind to your mind, treat it like a child looking up at a rollercoaster for the first time, not all children get excited by the prospect of danger equally not all minds get excited by the prospect of losing control, so always reassure your mind that it will survive the experience, it will even want to go again. 

With so much love and always for peace, 

S.A.

On being responsible for our lives

Dear quarter lives,

In the grand scheme of things, much that happens in our lives is insignificant. Yet sometimes it feels very significant to us. We tell ourselves we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff yet we find ourselves soaking in them. Sometimes, I find myself carried away by waves of anger and resentment over what seems to other people like the tiniest things, but to me they are not tiny, they mean something and that is important. I didn’t used to think so, precisely because of sayings like don’t sweat the small stuff which I get helps put things in a larger perspective but that’s fine when an emotion has been processed or an agitation has been expressed. But if for instance, someone was a little rude to you and you felt upset at a remark they said but you told yourself well I’m going to let it go because I’m trying this new thing where I don’t sweat the small stuff, the reality is that you did sweat it but you internalised it. I am just coming to understand that our anger is very useful and very important in helping us establish our boundaries with others and the reason anger gets such a bad rep is because of how people express it so the problem isn’t expressing you are upset but it is how you express you are upset. And the thing is it is extremely important to express when we are upset, it is important because in doing so we are expressing our boundaries to another so that in the future they do not cross them. Our boundaries help keep us safe. And if we don’t express to others when they have crossed these boundaries then we are deliberately putting ourselves in danger. It is up to us to speak up for ourselves and defend our borders. And having boundaries is the key to any healthy relationship, including our relationship with ourselves. If we disregard when our boundaries have been crossed because we don’t want to upset another or because we don’t want this person to think we don’t love them, then we are jeopardising our own relationship with ourselves, we are threatening the level of trust we have with ourselves.

For the longest time, I would blame myself when I got upset with someone, telling myself I was too soft, too sensitive, that I needed to grow tougher skin. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all my health issues are skin related. I’ve rejected my own boundaries because they were not in par with what other people expected. I realise now how important it is to respect my own boundaries, and despite how uncomfortable I find confrontation, I must always vocalise when my boundaries have been crossed. And I notice that when I do, the anger fades and there is no residue of emotion lingering still in my body. All the anger we hold is anger that was unexpressed. And usually this anger will also direct inwards because self is angry at itself for not standing up for itself and vocalising to the other person they have crossed their boundary. When anger lingers, sometimes it is because there is a part of the situation that we need to take responsibility for. And that may include how we react to a situation. When someone has wronged us perhaps we might know where to put our anger but what happens when it doesn’t come from someone, like a health condition or a loved one dying. Even then, anger lingers because we have yet to feel safe again within our boundaries. And in such situations, we must make peace with whatever has happened. To accept it. To release blaming it for the outcome of our lives. Because one will never be free if one cannot take ownership over one’s decisions and actions regardless of what could have happened that have steered events in a particular direction. Life might strike us but it is always in our power to strike back as an equal actor in this relationship, or accept defeat and give our power away as we play our role as victim. It is not easy to realise one has been playing victim, it is not easy too to realise one has been an active participant in starving oneself of power, but the first step towards regaining that power is to realise oh shit I did make those choices.

To be an adult is to be responsible, and to be response-able, is to recognise one’s ability to respond.

When we are in a place where we are unable to take responsibility, we are literally saying I don’t think I have the ability to respond, this is all happening to me.

So dear quarter lives, learn to recognise your own ability to respond. Learn to use that ability wisely, for it is YOUR POWER. It is what you have to live well and to live free.

May we all have the courage to reclaim our responsibility and take back our power.

With love and as always for peace,

Shahinda

How Saturn marks the end of the Quarter Life

Dear quarter lives,

How do we know when we are done with the quarter life chapter of our lives? How do we know we are no longer quarter lives? Officially, there is no precise age at which it ends. Some of us finish a little earlier. Some of us a little later. It all depends on when Saturn comes back to us.

So for those of you familiar with astrology, you might’ve heard of a concept called the Saturn Return. For those of you who aren’t, well it sounds like it is, it is when Saturn returns to the exact place it was in the sky when we were born. Saturn takes between 27-30 years to make that journey. And when it finally returns to where it was when we were born, it marks the end of the first chapter of our lives. But before Saturn leaves us again, it needs to make sure we have grown enough to begin the next chapter of our lives. It needs to make sure we have matured, developed and learnt some early life lessons.

And how does Saturn do this you might ask…well, by presenting us with some challenges, some tests you could say which require us to show up and answer to a particular area of our lives that is being called to by Saturn – for some this might be work, for others it might involve a relationship, and for some it might involve facing the monsters of their mind, for others it could be showing up for their physical body and finally developing that discipline they were struggling with all those years ago. And for this reason, many dread Saturn’s return. And for this reason too, when she leaves again, many will be forever grateful for what she has taught them. 

Currently, I am going through my Saturn Return. One of the things I feel called to make peace with is ageing. It is no surprise that of all the planets that Saturn is the one calling for this. Saturn is often represented by the old wise woman or man. And for people, like me, with strong Saturn placements in our birth chart, we might come off as old (not necessarily always in appearance) but in temperament even as children. Saturn is not a softie or quick to react like the faster moving planets Venus, Mercury or Mars. It is slow. It is calculated. It is harsh in the same way life can be harsh. It is not to hurt us but to make us stronger and more resilient. Saturn pushes us to take responsibility for our lives, because if we can’t take responsibility for our own lives, how can we begin to take responsibility for others, how can we bear children and parent if we cannot parent our own inner children. Saturn comes to wake up the dead within us. It wakes up all forgotten wounds and calls for healing. So do not ignore Saturn’s calls. For those who ignore Saturn’s calls will lack the patience, will and oomph to take on life. For to continue to participate in such a magnanimous experience such as living requires one to have their arms wide open to Life. And those arms, as Saturn is trying to tell you, need to be strong enough to take all that force and still be able to enjoy it. 

It is true, when Saturn comes, things end, losses occur, people separate. But what Saturn does to us is exactly what we do to our closets or our homes when we decide it’s time to declutter and empty them out of old clothes, papers, memories and ask ourselves the Marie Kondo infamous question – does this bring me joy?, and if it does not, we need to let it go. This is what Saturn comes to do when she returns to us, she returns to help us asks ourselves some tough questions in order to declutter our lives, our bodies and our minds. And as a result, she helps prepare us for the next quarter of our lives by helping us make space in our lives for a whole new set of memories, people, experiences we are yet to experience, and this is to make sure we are ready to receive more of life without feeling congested, cramped up or overwhelmed by it. Saturn helps us let go of the past to make room for the future, and in doing so invites us to center ourselves into the present so that we can feel and be connected to our present day voices and needs as we make some big life decisions.

To those like me going through our Saturn return right now, I feel you. It is hard no doubt but it is necessary and from what I hear well worth it in the end. So just know that you are not alone, know that this is a rite of passage that we all must go through if we are to come of Age and enter the next quarter life light, ready and strong with feet firmly rooted and a back fully erect like a tree. 

And to Saturn, I say thank you. I will carry your lessons forth with me till we meet again in 29 years for a whole new set of lessons and to say goodbye to the mid-life.

With all my love and always with the intention to bring peace,

Shahinda

On Reconsidering Our Choices

Dear quarter lives, 

We often think we know what’s best for us. And it is that faith in our decision-making abilities that grounds us and gives us the courage to make some of the most difficult choices in our lives. And sometimes the most difficult thing we can do is to reconsider our choices. We think we know what’s best for us. But do we actually know what’s best for us? And if we don’t, then who does? When we’re twenty-something, choices feel more like reactions to events taking place in our lives than they do like conscious choices we actually make and choose. We do our best, but what if our best when we were 22 is not good enough for when we are 29? I believe one of the hardest choices we can make is to reconsider a choice we said no to before. Or to reconsider choices made from the beautiful yet naive idealism of a 22 year-old. Yes, we should definitely be true to ourselves but sometimes being true might just turn into being stubborn. When a path we are on stops flowing, when it feels like there are roadblocks everywhere, it might be a good time to reconsider new options which could also be old options. The thing is the point is just to keep on moving, and if one path ends at a dead end, it’s no use to sit there because you’ll sit there forever. So I feel that for one to reconsider other paths, one must open one’s mind and accept to see their situation differently, through new eyes and a fresh perspective. Sometimes what happens is we hold onto a belief of ourselves or of something in the world so tight that it blocks us from seeing what might have always been right in front of us, staring us in the face this the whole entire time. So I tell you as well as myself: Don’t let the fear of turning back keep you stuck. We all make choices that might’ve felt right at one point but turned out to be not so right later on. So it’s okay to turn back. It’s okay to adapt our choices. If we are to survive this life, we must be flexible with our minds and our choices. Or else, not only our minds will break but we will too. So we must constantly practice engaging the elasticity of our minds and our hearts. May we all have the clarity of vision, the flexibility of mind and the openness of heart to make the best possible choices.

With love and always for peace, 

S.A. 

On Conflict and Resolution

Dear quarter lives, 

During our lifetime, we are bound to run into conflicts not only with other people, but particularly with ourselves. In fact, they say often that the conflicts that arise with other people are merely a reflection of the conflicts hidden within us. And so it goes, when we resolve these conflicts within ourselves, our conflicts with others too fade away. For those of us on a conscious journey of coming to peace, this is great news because that means the more we resolve within us, the less conflict we experience with life, and thus the less and less suffering we endure. The reason this is especially great news is because it means we always have the power to resolve conflict, and power is the key ingredient any individual party or person must have to partake in resolution. To truly resolve any conflict, we must come to the resolution from a place of power, and that place of power certainly doesn’t not mean a place of victory, for there is no victory in conflict resolution, there is no defeat either — there is only peace. Peace for all parties is the goal here. And all parties must be conscious of this intention and must want peace. For if one party does not want peace, it will continue to sabotage the peace process.

So when you find yourself constantly self-sabotaging, that is a sign that there is a conflict within yourself that needs addressing. There is one part trying to achieve a certain goal and another part that does everything to destroy any progress towards that goal. When this happens, you must sit with both parties within yourself and listen. First, we must listen to what each part has to say, because every part is justified in its feelings. Every part of us has a reason to why it is acting the way it is acting. And every part wants to be heard and seen by us. Often inner conflict is exacerbated by self-denial and ignoring the relevant part, even when it is screaming at you. It is important when you are sitting with yourself to mediate between these parts. It is important that you listen with compassion, that you bring forth the part of yourself that is non-partisan, that is not judgmental, that is all-loving, which is often referred to as our Higher Self. To heal any conflict, we must first connect to the conflict. We must be in the conflict before we can resolve anything. Presence is what is often needed. Acknowledgement for what has been felt and experienced is needed. And then we can move on and begin to reconcile. Always remember, resolution can only happen if we let go of the need to win. We must completely surrender our notions of victory and defeat. We must want peace! We must want to be in union within ourselves. We must want resolution. This process can be translated to our conflicts with other people. Often what is causing the conflict is both sides refusing to recognise one another. We must acknowledge that for the other party, their pain is valid, even if we believe deep down it is not our responsibility to bear. Acknowledging someone else’s pain has nothing to do with taking responsibility for it. You can witness someone’s grief and not have caused it. And like with the parts within ourselves, we must have compassion for everyone involved. We must want to be at peace with them. We must want our relationship to move forward together.

So when you find yourself in conflict, do not rush to resolve anything before you actually feel all the feelings that have been triggered by being in conflict. And then after you have given yourself ample time to be in conflict, when your feelings have been felt and some distance can now be had from them, only now can you approach other parties to try to seek resolution. Peace is a choice. No one can be forced into peace, and that includes parts of ourselves that don’t want peace. When this happens and there are parties refusing peace, we must listen to why they do not want peace and attempt to approach the disharmony present from there. Until there is harmony in the intention for peace amongst all parties, resolution will never truly arrive. We must be in union with ourselves to come to peace. We must be wanting to be in union with others to come to peace with one another. And throughout this process of coming to peace, be grateful to the conflict for it is the engine driving us forward towards peace. Be sure to remind yourself amidst all the anger and anxiety that surfaces within you during conflict, that it is a good thing this is happening, because it means something within you has finally woken up and seeking to be healed and brought back into union. Without conflict, there wouldn’t be peace. So do not fear the conflict, but certainly be mindful of how you handle the conflict. Be mindful of the harm you inflict on others or on yourself during the process. And be brave enough to apologise when you have made a mistake and inflicted harm on another whether you did so intentionally or not. And most importantly be kind enough to love ALL of yourself through the errors, attempts and failures leading you to peace. 

With love and always for peace, 

S.A. 

What is Grief? How do we release it?

Dear quarter lives, 

We all have an emotion that is our personal Everest. We all have an emotion that we believe if we allow our selves to feel, we might die, but we might also reach the highest peak in our lives. We might gain a view of the world that only a handful of people have experienced. For me, that emotion is grief. Grief is my Everest. It is the one emotion that I’ve prevented myself from going through because the little glimpses I’ve gotten of it felt unbearable. It felt like I couldn’t breathe, that my heart was physically in pain. I could never allow myself to connect to grief for too long. It always overwhelmed me. But now I have come to a point in my healing journey where I must feel my grief. I must allow myself to grieve a loss I thought I wouldn’t survive. But the thing is I am still here. And I have survived despite my own disbelief in myself. Now, as I sit with my grief, I hear it asking me to trust it. To trust that I will survive feeling it. To trust too that I will not be empty without it, merely much lighter. Even though grief has been this thing I’ve always dreaded feeling, I’ve somehow developed this attachment to it. I began to confuse it with myself. The boundaries between us became blurry. But I realise now that I am not my grief. I realise too that I will not be alone without my grief. To release it from me and me from it, one thing must happen. I must cry. Have you ever had the feeling that you might lose yourself in your tears. I am afraid that if I start, I cannot stop. But I must, for the sake of my health, both mental and physical. I must free myself from my own grip on grief. 

Yes, it is often we that hold our grief captive and not the other way around. It’s like if you let go of the grief, there will no longer be proof for the loss you’ve gone through. And grief is not easy to release, the longer it stays within us, the longer it mingles and marries with other emotions. Grief for me is hugely tied to my Anger. I actually don’t know which came first. I don’t know if I was so angry that grief needed to come in to cool me down. Or if I was actually so cold in my grief, that anger came in to heat things up. The thing is our bodies are always striving for balance. Our bodies don’t recognise that we might be going through a lot of one emotion so it’ll hold back with another. Our bodies are designed to maintain balance. Neither side of the imbalance is good or bad. Neither side is wrong. It is merely the imbalance that is wrong. And I believe that’s what grief is trying to tell us, that it is merely here to even things out. It is not here to punish us or make us suffer for something bad we’ve done. It is here to tell us in fact the complete opposite, that we are not bad, that we don’t deserve to be out of balance, that we don’t deserve to suffer. It is not the grief that is causing us to suffer, it is the state of imbalance we experience after a loss. When we lose something, grief comes into that space to help us heal. Grief is healing. Grief is a gift of kindness from God to help us through our loss. Without grief, we cannot cry for the pain we are feeling, and if we cannot cry, we will continue to suffer in silence with no one in sight to help us because no one can hear us. Grief gives us our voice back. Grief helps call our loved ones to our rescue. Grief is a cry for love. Grief helps to bring us back to the present, because loss will often leave us stranded in the past. Grief is God’s way of telling us I got you. It is Their way of saying You think you might die, but I got you. I promise I do. Grief teaches us to have mercy on ourselves and on others. Grief is Mercy. And Mercy is the most godly of all acts. To learn to have mercy is to learn the language of God. I believe grief brings us closer to our Source. Grief is Spirit flowing through us. Grief is what opens our hearts again when they have been closed shut. So let it flow, dear quarter lives. Let grief flow through your veins until you are fully back here in the now with a heart open and ready to love once again. 

My grief won’t be like your grief. So to release grief, we must try to understand our own grief. We must understand what it is here to teach us. We must learn to love it. We must say thank you to it for all it has endured as we held it hostage within us. To release grief, we must be kind to ourselves. We must refrain from blaming ourselves for holding in grief. We must understand that this is what we had to do to survive, to cope with a destabilizing experience of loss. We must love ourselves through it. Hold your own hand through the grieving process. Hold your hand like you would a friend’s. Hold yourself as you birth grief out of you. And I promise you, dear one, that you will survive. Even better, you will finally come back to life. 

Please if you know someone who has recently been through a significant loss, ask about them. Even a simple text message saying I love you makes all the difference. And remember, we can experience loss in many ways beyond death. Losing a relationship, a  job, a dream, our health, our home. Grief can be very potent, but it can be very liberating as well. So feel it, free it, and if you can, help a loved one feel supported through their grieving process. Remember, we all grieve in different ways so be mindful of what you say to someone who is grieving. May our hearts be free of grief, may our souls feel held by love once again.

With love and always for peace, 

S.A.

On our Relationship to Information

Dear quarter lives, 

This topic was inspired by a recent and very long conversation with friends, so I dedicate this one to my beloved friends who challenge me and to the spirit of debate that keeps our minds healthy and our hearts open. 

To begin this contemplation, let’s start by defining the term information.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, information is defined as facts told or discovered. In searching the internet for other definitions, I found that all lead to similar conclusions that information is knowledge obtained from some sort of investigation or study. It is not opinion. It is fact. And its purpose is to resolve uncertainty and to make more of the unknown knowable. 

In the world we are currently living in, I would argue that information has lost its closeness to certainty. Knowledge that is communicated is not always fact; neither is it opinion. We live in a very rich and diverse world of beliefs where there are abundant schools of thought for literally everything, so fact is only fact as deemed so by its proponents. Some see a problem in this as they deem it the cause for misinformation and the threat to progress in our societies. While others find such diversity in information to be a great sign of humanity’s progress in tolerance and acceptance. I can see the tension between both rising, but I can also see that it is that tension between these multiple truths that will keep our societies healthy and in balance. Once you have too much of the same of anything in any ecosystem, whether it’s our own bodies or a forest or coral reef, the system is in danger. It is out of balance, and thus, vulnerable to attack or disease. 

And as much as I know deep down that having some wiggle room for debate and questioning is what brings about inventions and innovations, I cannot help but wonder too about the consequences too much doubt can have on us and our relationship to information. I have been thinking a lot about what my relationship to information is — do I trust information or have I due to a habit of constant questioning developed a deep mistrust in it? Moreover, I had always thought that I (like every other human) should be free to believe and express what I want. I had never thought that my beliefs have consequences. I never considered the impact of what I express. I never considered that, like there are benefits to freedom of expression, there are costs too. It made me rethink my power as a writer. It made me reconsider the value of what I put out there. Does everything need to be said and at whose cost are we speaking? But equally, when I deem someone else’s expression of their truth invalid simply because it is not factual according to the scientific method, what am I doing to the emotional and more felt and experiential part of being human? What am I doing to society if I say that Love cannot be because science has not proven that there is a particle called Love? What am I doing if I prevent people from venturing into different realms of certainty? It is not that love is an unknown, neither is it opinion, it is merely that love is the kind of fact that is only provable through felt experience. 

What is the cost of not being able to navigate an uncertain kind of certainty? Why can’t we live in a world where different kinds of facts exist? I am not saying if we needed to build a spaceship to just say a bunch of affirmations for an entire month and expect to have a spaceship as a result. But what if we can entertain that saying a bunch of affirmations can have an impact on our physical health even if science cannot yet prove it? Why can’t science and other forms of truth coexist? I would argue strongly that it is largely because of our own relationship to information. Just like being in relationship with a person, there are certain expectations we have from information. One big one is reliability. We rely completely on information to tell us the truth, and so the idea of having multiple pieces of information that tell different stories is immediately assumed to threaten that reliability of information which is at the very foundation of our relationship to it. But someone who is in a polyamorous relationship will tell you being in relationship with two different people, experiencing two different kinds of love (like two different kinds of information) does not change the reliability factor at all. Every love is its own kind of love and does not diminish or compare to the other; in fact each one only enhances the other and both work together in unison to create a third completely new experience of love. 

The problem isn’t that there’s so much conflicting information out there, the problem is that we are looking for information to provide us with safety and security. We are looking to information to relieve us of our anxiety of the unknown, so when information stops doing that, we want to condemn it for not being really information. We want certainty and we expect it from every fact and we blame information for being broken if it fails to give us that certainty. But it is not information that is the problem, it is our relationship to information. I will say it one more time — it is our relationship to information that requires recalibration and not information itself. We as a collective society have become too dependent, too reliant on fact and certainty. We do not have to explain the world away only in one way; there can be the scientific narrative; there can be the energetic narrative; there can be as many kinds of narratives as there are people.  

What I’d just like to ask of you as we end this beautiful contemplation together — consider if you had a completely new sense; one that is only unique to you and allows you to perceive the world in a way that when you try to explain it to someone else, it conflicts with the story of the world that we experience together with the rest of our senses. How would you feel if you expressed it to someone and they told you you’re a liar or you’re a lunatic? How would you feel if you are shunned from a collective right not only to experience the world differently but to contribute to it as well? What we’re experiencing in the world today is a consequence of such isolation and alienation. All any one of us wants to feel is like we belong, and all any one of us needs to be able to feel like we belong is to express our truth without fearing condemnation because of it. We once lived in a world where it was perceived as a fact from god that being anything but heterosexual should be punished and shunned. Today, we live in a world where people use the word of science like they used to use that of god, it is neither the word of god that is at fault here nor the word of science, it is always the fault of people who want to use information to wield power by manipulating people. Let us not condemn people’s individual rights to self-expression, when it is our collective wounded relationship to information that needs healing. We should certainly all reflect and reconsider our own relationship to information as well as the consequences of how we use and communicate information and the intention behind our own expressions of the truth. But what I fear happens when we deem some views invalid is to create further segregation in a society that is hungry for unity. Not unity in views, but in acceptance. We must be able to live in a world where we can be different and still be accepted to be who we are without having to change to fit in someone else’s view of the world. Like almost everything in life, even love, information is a double-edged sword that can be used for good or for evil, so we must be wise, careful and mindful of how we use our swords of information. Perhaps we cannot strive to control information, the only thing we can control is our own selves. It is not up to information to get rid of its evil consequences. It is always up to us, up to the carrier to pick which end of the sword they will use. I cannot force you to use information my way, the same way I cannot force you to eat a certain way just because we all endure the consequences of a collective health burden on our societies and economies together. 

I hope this has left you with sufficient food for thought to keep you going for a while. May we all have the ability to discern for ourselves what is true in any given moment. 

With love and always for peace, 

S.A.