You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
~ Margery Williams The Velveteen Rabbit
It is suddenly November. Outside my window, I glimpse some blue sky and pale sunshine, grateful for a break in the weather as it grows drier and cooler every day. For weeks, the flame-tree has shed fiery heaps of flowers onto the teak and silver oak leaves that are scattered across the driveway every morning. It’s the season the black kites pluck dry twigs off the trees, soaring towards high, hidden nests and the squirrels scurry to forage the last of the monsoon’s juicy gifts. My father tells me rain is forecast today and I hear the chirpy protest of squirrels and birds as the breeze picks up and clouds gather, the sky darkening even though we haven’t yet sat down for lunch. The scent of rain wafts through the window and I breathe it in along with the fragrance of sage incense that fills the house. There’s a slow easy rhythm to the day, an invitation to let life in, however it shows up. After the intensity of the past few months, I welcome it, along with the hot, simple lunch of palak dal and rice, spiced just right to warm my heart and belly.
Twenty-two years ago, I let life in for what felt like the first time as I gazed across a thousand candles on the eve of this century, into a night that was as vast and dark as it was starlit, promising me adventure, possibility and above all, life. It has given me all that and more. A crow streaks across the lawn looking for shelter as the rain begins to pour down in sheets, its wings glistening in a bold ray of gold sunlight that peeks through the clouds. It's an ethereal moment of colour, energy and wonder, inviting a pause as I reflect on this past year. Letting life in has meant milestones of marriage for both my sons, bringing an overwhelming mix of joy and grief in the witnessing of their beautiful unions. Letting life in has meant letting go and letting be in a heady year of work and life, the past and the present culminating in a potent opening for a new future. The many bottles of champagne we have popped this year seem a prescient testament to the celebration of just that – letting life in, in all the ways that bring aliveness and awe to our human experience.
Letting life in softens us if we let it. As the week moves slowly into what is likely to be a rain-soaked weekend, I consider all the ways I can spend it crafting my soul and spirit, usually a mix of reading, rest, reflection and regeneration in nature. When we listen deeply to life, we move with it, instead of against it. I am still learning this fundamental law of nature, as my morning pages testify. Letting life in stretches the heart so fully as to touch the meaning of your existence and the depth of your soul. And it changes us in all the ways we are meant to change. Love is the base ingredient. When we come back to that core power, it serves to embody and embrace the radiance of simply being in harmony with life, just as it is. I am left both empty and replete, like the clouds overhead, on a day where all I’m asked to do is offer who I am on this page, a bit like Rainer Maria Rilke says here …Take your practiced powers and stretch them out until they span the chasm between two contradictions…For the god wants to know himself in you.