Tag Archives: Openness

Friends for Friendship, Not for Fear

7 Jun

For the past few weeks I have been surprisingly unsettled and it is only today that I found the most probable reason for this anxiety. Next week, three of my closest friends are coming to visit me in my new country, my new city and my new life. Amongst organising our long week-end, amongst looking forward to spending time with them and hearing their stories about the past four months, I am filled with fear.

What will they think of my new life? What will they think of the way I have changed? What will they think of my new views and my new reflections? What will they think of my new worries and my new problems?

I realised that my anxiety comes down to own fear: I am scared that my friends will not like my new life. Or, to put it straight, I am scared that my friends will not love the new me.

These are friends with whom I had my wildest days at university. These are the girls with whom I shared high heels and short dresses; they are the ones who curled my hair and did my make-up before a night out. With these girls I danced on tables and talked to too many strangers. These are the friends who would sit wide-eyed and open-mouthed while I told them about my week-end. These are the friends who are used to a girl whose every minute is filled with activity.

When they arrive next week, my friends will see a girl with barely any make-up on. They will hear a calm voice telling them about a life spent riding bikes, taking walks in parks, watching sunsets, picking wild flowers, going to local markets, taking photos of nature, writing in bed, reading on the balcony and imitating owls. They will find a girl that keeps to herself and is sometimes shy in social situations. They will find a girl that likes to share thoughts on life and death, friendship and love. They will find a girl that is the most confused, yet the most content she has ever been.

When I realised that the cause of my anxiety is a fear of rejection, I thought about how I could make the best of the week-end that I will spend with my friends, without letting insecurity ruin special moments. I immediately remembered a wonderful post I’d read about welcoming guests, and I realised that this is not a time for fear, but a time for love. These are precious days in which I can share my joy, laughter and positivity with people who mean the most to me. These are moments in which I should be giving and sharing, not taking. These are times when I am supposed to be being honest and open, and not trying to impress or Friends Hugging on Beachentertain. This is an opportunity to show my friends how much they mean to me, and not to expect proof of friendship from them.

Fear will most certainly always reside in my heart, but the best thing I can do is to respond with love. So I’ll stop fretting about the broken tiles in my bathroom and the ugly chest of drawers in the living room. I will stop worrying about not knowing the best restaurants or liveliest bars. I will forget about learning the city inside out or getting the best deals for days out. Instead, I will simply do my best to welcome my friends with open arms and give them my open heart.

A True Moment of Peace

29 Apr

It was a mild and clear evening today; I had dinner on the balcony and decided to stay outside until it got dark. Legs crossed in half-lotus, I sat and watched.

I watched aeroplanes draw pink lines across a blue backdrop. I watched the leaves on the trees wave gently to me. I watched a thin purple cloud spread its thin limbs for the night in a comfortable place in the sky. I watched the wind play hide and seek between the branches. I watched the sky put on its grey pyjamas. I watched the trees fall asleep when the wind got tired of playing with them. I watched pollen float from left to right, as if unable to make up its mind about where to land.

There were sounds too, of course. Leaves whispering secrets to each other before lights out, birds singing lullabies, and dogs tiptoeing outside the house.

As I sat watching and listening, I lost track of time. Was I outside for ten or twenty minutes? Or perhaps I was there for half an hour?

Absorbed by nature, I felt myself extending into its vastness. During this moment, I felt open, still and quiet, just like the trees, the grass and the sky around me. I was meditating without knowing it.

By taking a rare opportunity to observe a tranquil evening, I got a rare experience in return: a true moment of peace.

If You Love It, Teach It!

16 Mar

“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”  ~ Author Unknown

The best teacher that I have ever had stood out from all the dozens of others by one simple thing: love. This teacher loved what she taught, she loved teaching and she loved her pupils. Every time I was in her class, I felt as if that hour with her was sacred. She treated every pupil as her own child, and taught us in a way that showed us that we were just as important to her as she was to us. She truly wanted to share her knowledge with us, and to make us discover the happiness that she herself experienced through this subject. Through her honesty, openness, attention and care she did more than teach – she inspired.

In current times, it is rare to find a teacher with all of the above qualities. I have come across teachers who taught simply to make money, or because they couldn’t find another job; I have known teachers who were unqualified and unmotivated, and those who simply did not care about their students. Jacques Barzun rightly said that “teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition”. The current focus on passing exams and getting the best grades has transformed learning from a process of discovery to a process of repetition, regurgitation and memorisation. Teachers are no longer valued as our guides to self-discovery, and they are no longer respected as professionals with a wealth of knowledge.

There is never a shortage of eager students looking for the perfect teacher (all of us would love to learn one thing or another), but unfortunately, there is a shortage of eager teachers looking for the perfect student. Why is that? Because we have come to believe that being a teacher means having a qualification or a post to confirm our abilities. In fact, there is a teacher in all of us: we all have something that we love and that we would love to pass on to others. Last week-end, I taught yoga to a friend. We did a ‘proper’ class, with postures, sequences and techniques, and both of us came away happy. I am not a yoga master, nor am I trained as a yoga teacher, but yoga is something that I love, and something that I would love to pass on to others, and therefore it was a great pleasure for me to spend an evening teaching it to someone who was curious and willing to learn.

We all know how much joy it brings us to share our passion with others, and I believe that one of the best ways to do this is by teaching. Whether you love literature, singing, playing on the piano, gardening, knitting, swimming, writing, playing chess…there is someone who would love to learn from you. Whether in a formal or informal class, paid or free, with friends or strangers, regularly or irregularly, to a group or to an individual, sharing what you love is a gift. Don’t let your talents and your passions go to waste – pass them on!

If you love it, teach it!