In this Love in the Time of COVID-19, I find it harder & harder to keep the physical distancing and masking up, not being able to hug friends or to shake hands with new people during work meetings.
Abiding by rules and traveling the world to assist countries and serve vulnerable populations – especially young girls, boys, women, and men & passing a message on the paramount essence of life, love and emotions through empowered decision-making and equal gender-relations on work and family, I found myself in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, reading the “Forty Rules of Love’, an extraordinary deep and mesmerizing book by Turkish author Elif Shafak .
I am a Love believer as connecting emotionally with people and empathetically trying to understand the daily battles that each one encounters, internal and external struggles, being understanding and compassionate on life itself and what it presents us.
The inner journey of Love is harder than I had expected though, because we must be able to overcome the barriers that hamper us from establishing an invisible, soft and yet unbreakable thread with another person. I call it trust, and I like to think of genuineness of two human hearts able to freely and truly talking to one another, with good intentions and the sincere willingness to get to know one another’s spirits, dreams and life story.
Exactly like the American band –Earth, Wind and Fire, the book is divided into life stories, represented by the four elements of nature: earth, water, wind, fire, and a fifth element, called the void, where we abandon the future to live the present moment, and alluding to death, learning to live the presence of a person through his/her absence.
It was an eye-opening experience, as I navigated and highlighted some nice lines of the book. All in all, I learned that nature teaches us that all is temporary, all flows -like Heraclitus’s philosophy of everything flows like rivers and waters, the Panta Rhei concept.
All is transforming around us, fluid and unpredictable, swiftly evolving , both changing and challenging us.
However, in the midst of change, the universal law is Love. According to the book, there is a universal spirituality that brings us together. The “Divine Love “must be found within, and then, once able to travel within ourselves, we can become patient, determined, wise and humble.
Without spoiling the book and hoping you can dive into the 40 rules of Rumi, and a new world of Sufism, I am leaving with two quotes, one about music and one about the nature of love itself , which unfortunately we tend to idealize it, in a world already filled with labels and too many boxes.
“Don’t they see that all nature is singing? Everything in this universe moves with a rhythm – the pumping of the heart, the flaps of a bird’s wings, the wind on a stormy night, a blacksmith working iron, or the sounds an unborn baby is surrounded with inside the womb…Everything partakes, passionately and spontaneously, in one magnificent melody”.
“Rule number 40: A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, Eastern or Western….Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water!”
For your souls:
Ramooz-e-Ishq by Abida Parveen (Life performance at Coke Studio Pakistan)
Arlandria by Foo Fighters (Live performance at Late Show with David Letterman)
NPR Music Tiny Desk concert by Tash Sultana
Two Step – Dave Matthews Band (Live from Central Park)