I don’t know about you but 2016 has been a hell of a year for me. It found me in Sri Lanka volunteering with captive elephants, enjoying the simple life and making friends with humans and animals alike. Then it proceeded like a rollercoaster and took me straight into a long streak of freelancing and into getting married earlier this month. Meanwhile, a month ago, UK voted to leave the EU, July has been punctuated by terrorist attacks in Europe, and two and a half weeks ago we walked into Battersea Cats and Dogs Home and came back with Heathcliff, a black ball of fluff with white socks.
Getting married was a profound spiritual experience for me and I can only describe it as grace. Committing myself wholeheartedly to another human being, having someone as a partner through this journey called life, someone I chose and who has chosen me is an act of God. I know I have been led to believe to have found it through The Love Project but if I’m honest, I think it had found me. I don’t know where it comes from, but I know some of us spend all our lives looking for this profound communion with another, be it life partner, pet or stranger. It’s elevating, it’s special, it’s sublime. And it’s scary too but that only makes life exciting.
I often thought about what I really wanted to communicate through The Love Project, now that I have the opportunity to re-edit it and strengthen it (I was upset at first that the agents didn’t want to take it as it was and suggested improvements, but now I really appreciate the opportunity because I realise I hadn’t distilled its message properly before). And what The Love Project is really all about is that we must look inwards first for good things to happen to us on the outside.
Our default reaction as humans has been to separate ourselves from the rest of the world. If we are unhappy in love, it’s everybody else’s fault, there just aren’t good enough people around to date. We are programmed to look for explanations outside of ourselves. If something goes wrong we flee, if something is worrying us, we shut our borders. Separation is what sits at the core of the evil that we are witnessing almost on a daily basis today, be it mass shootings in the USA or terrorist attacks all over Europe. Even the hate crimes that rose after the Brexit vote. It’s all part of the same issue: somebody else is to blame for our problems and we are going to fight or flee.
But maybe the problem is us. Maybe the problem is our inability to love or let ourselves be loved. Maybe our problems are our governments, the way we rule ourselves, the way we don’t take responsibilities and yet we demand everything from others. Maybe we’ve put up with the way things are for too long and it’s not working anymore. Maybe the whole world collapsing around us is a necessity if we are to create a new way of living on this wonderful and bruised planet of ours.
There is something profoundly right with this year despite its unsettling unfolding of events worldwide. Something’s happening and I’m not sure it’s all bad. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m also afraid of hate, racism, xenophobia, Donald Trump, Isis and the rest of it. But I also choose to see that it may just be the explosion of a latent virus coming to life and that we now have to let our immune system do the work of eradicating it. I choose to think that grace is at work even when we see the worst unfolding right in front of our eyes.
The bubble has burst. Now it’s our job to clean up the mess we’ve made here. And in the meantime, a wedding and a cat in between are just glimpses of the wonderful gifts life has in store for all of us, no matter how dark the sky looks right now.