One of the things that often comes as a reminder of hope and resilience is the tiny ficus shoot growing between the cracks of immovable rocks and concrete. I have seen it on broken pavements and dilapidated buildings. When all seems lost and deteriorated, there’s this tiny splash of green that is trying its best to grow in hostile conditions.
In His evergreen book, I Love You Letters, Swami Chinmayananda throws light on the fact that love – like any other art or skill – can be developed, nourished and nurtured. When all seems lost, we can try again and again to love and learn. ‘Just like the ficus shoot’, I think to myself.
One of the greatest pieces of evidence for our capability to live and learn, and try again, is our ability to walk. Or even cycle! Is there anybody who has achieved this feat without falling and bruising themselves? Indeed not. Yet, what prompts us to dust ourselves, straighten our shoulders and get back at it again? An urge to keep moving naturally. And the joy of the child who has just learned to walk or cycle is immeasurable. Their eyes shine with a newfound freedom and their limbs regale in all glory. Of course, the human race did not stop at that. We go on to run, jump, dive and sprint. There’s no stopping us.
Now, think of all the times we have faced setbacks in relationships and failed in our attempts to love. Why do we keep massaging our bruised heart or ego, instead of putting ourselves back out there bravely and boldly, just like the child who learns to walk or cycle? How liberating and all-embracing would such love be – one that has risen stronger and more determined, despite all expectations thwarting it down time and again.
And if you give it a little more thought, you will notice that the purest and unconditional form of love has always been from those who have returned to love, no matter what. This is not to say that one must be passive in accepting hostility or toxicity shown by the beloved. But this is to reiterate, like how the rushing Ganges goes madly conquering all in her flow, let our love too gush and propel forth without any encumbrance.
The first exercise in putting out this loving version of ourselves is to acknowledge that love is an unending exercise. One fall doesn’t determine our ability to love. Just as the baby slowly finds its limbs and balances its weight, let us learn to expand our hearts and shed any ego that weighs us down. This lightness of unconditional love only expands the heart further. The good thing about an expanding heart is that it eventually cushions itself as Time goes on. Falls don’t hurt anymore. Just as an adult tripping and falling would never hesitate to walk again. It is natural to love and love until there’s nothing untouched by our love.
Let the disappointments of the past, the expectations of the future and the excitement of the present be done away with. Even when everything around is cloudy, grey and unwelcoming, just beam forth your ray of love. Become the green shoot in unexpected environs. Be the harbinger of good and warmth for all who come your way. And if you fall, it’s okay, begin again.