Life has many ups and downs. Some more down than up, but one thing is clear – every dilemma, every crisis, every mistake, every downfall is an opportunity for learning. It all depends on your perspective.
When one is in the midst of the hurricane, one cannot see the sky. One cannot see the blue of the canopy, or the pink or yellow of the setting sun. One can only see and feel the screaming gale and the thrashing rain. The Fall of the Old Life is beginning. And it is a dreadful place to be.
However, during the midst of the storm we forget it is passing. It can take several storms, and several hurricanes, to get to this point in time, the time when we change beyond recognition. It takes the Mother of All Storms to reach a point in life where we crawl out of the sea, or the wreckage of our own lives, wondering who and what we are. But this is the First Day. The New Day. For after we have endured the death of the Old Self, we have been given the gift of the Second Life. This Second Life, we are changed and nothing can ever be the same. But, my Dear Human, this is not a change to be feared or resisted. The Second Life offers us that which we denied ourselves in the First. We get to begin again, and set a course of our own choosing.
One of the main things that we experience is what we are willing to accept. We have faced and endured the death of the Old Self. This needed to happen. It was painful, dark and often lonely. But the dark can only give us more appreciation of the light. Our perspectives change, our preferences change. What matters to us and what doesn’t changes. What we hold to be of value changes. What we bring through into the Second Life is of great importance because it is of great value – we treasured it enough to hold onto despite the storm trying to tear it from our grasp. Our hold, and our faith and our desire to keep those things close regardless of the tempest’s fury, was worth holding on to.
We also learn that what we thought makes us does not. The outside world, society, people, have their own opinions and thoughts about what makes us – a man, a woman, a good individual, a bad individual. There are roles placed upon us by others and, for the most part, we feel the need to fulfil those roles, or live up to them in some way, and sometimes that need is deep and powerful and calls upon our instincts. But it does not make us. It does not make us who we are, and does not define us, nor does not fulfilling that role define us either. We choose our roles in life and, to some degree, we can be influenced by others because of shame, or guilt or obligation. But to feel we need to take on roles that we do not desire nor had planned for ourselves is not being authentic to our true self and we can often pay a terrible price for living a lie.
You see, my Dear Human, your soul, your being, your character, your integrity, values, interests and how you treat others is what defines you, not your gender or your station in life. You are not defined by others. You can only define yourself. We can say we are successful, high-flying and wealthy, but how often do we say we are good, generous, funny or kind? Too often the good things we feel about ourselves or what others say about us are dismissed because one simply cannot accept one can possess those qualities for reasons only the heart knows.
But the world is still kind and good and just. It is still beautiful and the mountain still stands strong after the hurricane has passed overhead. But parts of it have gone – the old, weather-worn sides and the dead wood. New growth springs anew. New life, new ideas, new concepts. The mountain still stands but is forever changed by the storm, but not in the way you expect. No, nothing will ever be the same again, but the world is viewed with fresh eyes, with a deeper understanding of how things are, of why things are. Sometimes the storms come and we must endure them. Sometimes things happens but we are not meant to know why. But the inside of the mountain remains unmoved. Some may disapprove of its new appearance, but they cannot know the heart and mind of it, or why it is; why it chooses to grow bristle-cone pine instead of Scots or cedar. But the opinions and criticisms of those who do not know what storms it has weathered are of no concern. It matters not, only that it stands and will continue to do so regardless of what the fox or the deer might say.
The mountain weathers the storms, is changed by them but does not crumble. It is not defined by them nor by what attaches itself to it or what others use it for. It is a thing of nature. It is what it is. It defines itself. It is strong in its core. Veins of silver and gold run through it. It is made of crystal and granite. No storm can bring it down.
And the skylark sings overhead after the storm has passed.
It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some believe beauty is on the surface – a beautiful face, a beautiful body, a beautiful painting, or beautiful flower. While in some cases that may be the case, true beauty is more than what we see with our eyes. True beauty is what we see and feel with our heart.
What you value or deem beautiful is often a reflection of yourself; if you can see the beauty in yourself – your values, honesty, integrity, the love you have for others and other beings, it makes you beautiful on the outside. If you can bring out the best in others, that is beautiful. If you have compassion for those less fortunate, that is beautiful.
Forgiveness is beautiful. While some find it hard to forgive (and that is okay), when we choose to forgive others it is beautiful. We may feel hurt and resentful one day, then the deep, transformative power of sleep, dreams and love we hold deep within allows us to forgive others their transgressions, whether they have truly hurt us, or it is a perceived hurt. It brings forth the ability to move beyond to a place where our hearts can see clearly again. The dawn rises on a new day and yesterday’s woes and sorrows slowly fade into memory. The love we kept locked away because of those hurts comes forward once again through forgiveness, and that too, is beautiful. It brings peace and balance. But remember, forgiveness is always a choice.
Human beings suffer terribly because of the perceived nature of beauty. Grimalkins have no such affliction. Human beings, for the most part, judge themselves based on how they look to others, how attractive they are, how much approval they receive from others. They place their worth in the hands of others who too, do not know their own worth either. Let me tell you how Grimalkins value beauty.
Grimalkins are self aware, yes, but we are introspective. We understand that each one of us is different – big, small, black, grey, calico etc. We are mindful of our existence every day. We place value on ourselves, not by the colour of our fur or how long our whiskers are. No, we measure our worth by the values and principles we hold. Take my family – the Moonpaws. Our motto is Wisdom Before Knowledge. I find self worth and beauty in teaching youngsters to read and write, by sharing history and encouraging curiosity and a sense of yearning for knowledge in the individuals I meet. It makes me feel good and worthy because I have something to share that inspires others. So you see, your worth comes from inside, not from outside, not from approval from others. I may not get a thank you, but to see someone set off on an academic journey with excitement is more than enough to fill my heart with joy. That is where true self worth lies.
Grimalkins live in the moment. We change and improve the things we can change and accept the things we cannot. We express gratitude for the things we have for it is the small things in our lives that can bring us great joy and comfort. We do (or try not to) worry about the morrow. We do not live in fear as humans do – fear of what others may think, feel or do. We say how we feel because our words may make a difference, but they may not. But we never know. It doesn’t matter. Living without fear is beautiful. It opens up a wealth of possibilities that lead on to more beautiful things. Pride and ego are not things Grimalkins are too afflicted by. We strive for peace and balance and a quiet life. But even we can fall by the wayside at times.
Too often human beings are too afraid to say things to each other, too afraid to say “I love that about you, it makes me feel….” or “…it is beautiful because…” If people recognised and acknowledged the beauty in others, then they may realise that their self worth and value comes from the inside, not from validation from the outside. A beautiful person can facilitate change and transformation in you, quite unexpectedly, making you into a better, more beautiful person. You, in turn, may go on to be the catalyst of change in someone else and so it goes on.
Beauty is not about how you look or how you physically present yourself to the world. True beauty is bringing out the best in yourself and in others. Be beautiful every day. Celebrate and be content with the small things – the smell of Earl Grey tea on a rainy day, the feeling of warm sand between your toes, the sound of the sea, seeing tiny shoots appear in your pots where there was only bare soil before. New books. Fresh strawberries, incense and wind chimes, the list of things you find beautiful is endless so take time to be mindful of them and express gratitude for the sense of contentment they bring you.
Appreciation for the little things is beautiful. Be mindful of them and you will find small oases of peace in the maelstrom of life.