Feast on your life.

Love after Love

Love after Love

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.

-  Derek Walcott

In his book The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship (2010), Irish poet David Whyte writes that we commit to three ‘marriages’ in our lives that are in a constant state of flux: Marriage to Other, Marriage to Work and Marriage to Self.

When introducing this concept, I usually ask participants to allocate percentages to the amount of time they give to each of these Marriages. The almost unanimous response is for them to assign the bulk of their time to Marriage to Work (60–90%), followed by Marriage to Other (20–40%), and lastly, Marriage to Self (0–20%).

The shock comes when I repeat Whyte’s claim that without a good Marriage to Self, it is impossible to have a good Marriage to Work or to Other!

Once a person has begun developing awareness by cultivating their Outer Witness, the second crucial building block in the process of becoming more intelligent in the world is a focus on developing a healthy Marriage to Self. I’ve written a blog outlining some of the threads in my own life that led me to understand the truth of the fundamental importance of this Marriage. The blog also offers a more detailed exploration of the concept of Marriage to Self as well as some suggested activities for exploring and improving this marriage.

In my experience, people tend to misunderstand the concept of Marriage to Self. It is not about pushing one’s body in the gym or while running on the open road. It’s about continually taking time to understand this moving entity of Self by finding the necessary silence to listen to inner knowing. One of the best ways to do this is by seeking out aloneness in nature in order to stop and pay fierce attention to the big questions that life is asking in that moment.

I have embedded the TED talk by American television producer and screenwriter, Shonda Rhimes, in my Marriage to Self Blog. She poignantly speaks of the consequences of becoming obsessed with work to the extent that she lost all pleasure in it. Her surprising path to rejuvenation came when she decided to say ‘yes’ to playing with her children! She advocates 15 minutes of play and joy a day as a way to connect with oneself. She chooses to play with her children, but this play can take place in a variety of ways.

I find that Nature is the most wonderful playground!

If you were to commit to spending the next six weeks of your life on a project intended to drastically improve your Marriage to Self, what changes would you make to ensure you had 15 minutes of joy a day and also frequently had the opportunity to experience silent time alone with yourself in nature?