A few days ago I came across a story that touched me deeply. Its message was so powerful that it still hasn't left my heart or mind. The story begins with a woman, who meets a younger man. They fall in love in the most romantic of ways. Their love for art and culture is fostered by an esoteric passion for travel and adventure...the quintessential love story. As their relationship progresses, she can't help but notice how he lights up whenever he is around children. One day, she asks him if he would like to have children. To this, he beams and exuberantly replies, "Yes, of course!" At that moment, the woman understood, and felt in the most painfully profound way, that their relationship would come to an end. You see, this couple had an age gap of 16 years and her children were already grown. Though their paths had crossed and they were happily in love, their next journey would set them apart, for they were at different stages in their lives. She understood, well before he did, what was to come.
This was not to say that breaking up was easy for either of them. They tried for a few years to make it work, going back and forth, but ultimately, they both knew that neither could or should give up on their dreams. She wanted her freedom to travel and explore, and she would not deprive him of the experience of having children. And so, the woman tried to introduce this man to some girlfriends, hoping he would find someone to fulfill his dreams. Yet, he only wanted her. And so they struggled to let each other go, despite the cosmic love they had for one another.
Then one day, as this woman was sitting at her terrace, she saw a lady walk by that took her breath away. This lady had something curious about her, and the woman felt drawn to her. She went up to the lady, started a conversation with her, and later befriended her. After four weeks of this unique friendship, the woman decided to introduce this lady to the man.
The woman and lady arrived, and when the man saw this lady--when their eyes met-- the man smiled.... and the woman knew that this was good. The woman had already arranged for a girlfriend to call her away just in time to leave the two of them alone. But the man knew. He knew what this woman had done. He held on to the woman and begged her not to leave him. But the woman knew, she knew she had to set them both free.
Now make no mistake, it was very, very clear how deeply they both cared for each other, and this enormous love made it so difficult for either one of them to let go. After the woman left, the lady and the man called the woman repeatedly, but she did not answer their calls and moved away.
Four years had passed and then one day, the woman picked up the phone and called to say that she was coming. When she arrived, she was greeted by a beautiful, bright eyed little girl. Beaming and looking at the woman as if she had known her all of her life, the young child asked, "Are you the fairy?"
This story moved me for several reasons, but what struck me as most remarkable was how unselfishly this woman loved. How she freed herself of her own attachment to this relationship in order to allow them both to move forward on their paths. Unselfish love is the ultimate gift one can give another person. Yet it is not easy for many of us to do. Often, we want to hold on to things or people that don't suit us. What was enlightening about this woman-- this extraordinary human being--was that she could think beyond her own attachment, ego, desires....and permit the uncertainly that would follow. Through her choice, she freed herself and her partner of the pain of trying to hold on to something that was shifting course.
A person who is able to give unselfishly is at peace with themselves. They give without expecting something in return and with no intention of gain. They trust in their own worth and existence. The gift of unselfish love has become somewhat of an anomaly these days because it goes against the 'me-first' mentality that has pervaded our society. Unselfish love disarms competition, jealousy, and fear. It is the ultimate act of kindness.
The choices that the woman in the story made resonated with the principles of a method called the Alexander Technique, that I discovered 16 years ago. This technique teaches us to recognize how our own habits hold us back from the freedom that we are capable of experiencing. Throughout our lives, we hold on tight in many aspects of our being. It could be as seemingly innocuous as holding our posture in a certain way, or holding on to fantasies or expectations of others that will rarely come to fruition. That tight grip is construed through strain and tension.
In order to be free and live our life to its fullest, we have to learn to release the things that don't move us forward. Whether they are relationships, jobs, or physical activities that hold us back... they stifle our growth and potential. For example, wouldn't it seem silly to try and get out of a chair by moving back and down? How exactly could I get out of that chair? I would have to strain and hold and pull and do all sorts of things that would interfere with what it is that I am trying to do. However, if I were to try and get out of the chair by moving forward and up, I could do so with much greater ease. Likewise, expecting to move forward with a partner or job that is bringing us down is just as absurd. The real conundrum is figuring out how to stop bumping up against the same obstacles that block our path, and find a new way.
The fairy from the story served as a reminder to trust and explore the freedom that exists within each of us. Our lives are filled with choices and challenges. When we free ourselves from worry and fear, we no longer try to control uncertainty. We simply allow it to happen.