Today I came across a quote by author Tom Cox:
“The way the world is set up today, if you’re making art, music, writing books, even if you’re doing it well and making people happy, it’s so easy to feel you’re not doing enough because it’s so hard to earn a living from it. But remember: that’s not your fault. It’s the era.”
These words stuck with me, not because I question the value of my work, but because it reflects on how our world has become so dogmatic, so scolding, so shallow and empty, and so wired in absolutist thinking. Absolutism causes nuances and beautiful complexities to sink into the water like stones. And we miss opportunities for love and meaningful growth. We lose kindness also.
Ever since the beginning, I created Art of Love to inspire an even greater creation of love, kindness, compassion, reflection and imagination. I wanted to unveil the beauty within and without, so that we can have deeper, more meaningful and more fulfilling relationships in life. I wanted people to pay attention to one another and explore their lover’s unique inner world, and then appreciate all nuances and phases of love itself as it unfolds through the years. I wanted people to remember the beauty and wisdom of tales, and see how connected we all are through culture and through times. I wanted people to make more love, because love can be made in so many ways. We take so much for granted in our world, and we’ve lost so much love and deeper wisdom.
And yet beauty and love aren’t only seen in the bright times, which is why I haven’t been shy discussing many darker themes. Because it is in the acceptance of the totality of life, that we can truly make art of love.
It is a guiding intuition of our exploration that shows us how beauty isn’t one-dimensional. This is why it can be seen in muddy waters also, if we have the heart’s eyes to see it of course.
Like all else in life, it is a perspective – and this is what spirituality is. In its essence, spirituality is about opening ourselves to an expansion of perceptions. Good or bad, right or wrong, are only notions of our view; what’s pleasure for one person may be pain for another in their mutual exchange. Life breathes through us, like the ebb and flow of waves, it expands and contracts, life moves through us, like the breath of God, and every emotion is purposeful because this is how the divine experiences itself uniquely through us – in a way it could not have otherwise through another person. And who are we to know what’s what exactly with our limited understanding and conditioned human mind?
The totality of life and the philosophy of walking the middle path teach us that any choice essentially includes in itself its opposite; and if it is made without awareness, it ultimately becomes the energy that unconsciously motivates and guides our behaviours and intentions, which in turn can be detrimental to our wellbeing. Once we uderstand this, there will be less compulsions, indulgences, repressions and extremism. All spiritual transformation happens when we come into acceptance. Good and bad are concepts of the imprisoned ego, which thrives in the resistance. An inner conflict then becomes an outer one.
When inner divisions dissolve, we become one. This is where true love is. This is where sacred relationships begin, and their soul is born and can grow fully and completely.
On the art of temperance.
How water flows is how the earth is shaped. Temperance is a quiet creature – a virtue, moving like a mystical dancer, with elegance and with ease. But beyond her tender steps and gesture, is a hard work indeed: the ability to allow the water flow, while feeling the ground beneath her unshakeable. It’s a skill and a discipline, to be able for all of us to maintain a kind of balance in life, and keep walking the middle path.
When we see life as extremes, we ultimately rob ourselves of kindness, meaningful and depth too. We deny the multi-layered aspect of human beings.
In the system of tarot, temperance is one of the major arcana and symbolizes mixing opposing forces and elements in an alchemical process, like art. It is a marriage of opposites. Love itself is the song of alchemy as two opposites often come into one. Two lovers blend and merge, in and of themselves; they surrender and fall into the depth of waters, and then rise like dragon fires in the most powerful, undestructible force of all: love.
where fire merges with water,
where he burns, and she boils,
there, the deep is warm
Temperance from the Dreamkeepers Tarot by Liz Huston
Like a puzzle, and in trusting, two lovers reach towards one another, to unveil and undress, to learn and understand. Along these emotional wildlands and unseen terrains, all we can do is trust the intuitive guidance of our soul and of our heart.
Temperance might seem like an outdated virtue but it isn’t – in fact, it is a needed one to feel happiness in our life. It rests on the ability and devotion to learn to listen, understand, and appreciate the great value in the ordinary of life. It encourages us to explore the unknown, the opposing, the seemingly conflicting – and there, something new arises, of togetherness, depth and meaning.
The quiet message of temperance is that perhaps we’ve had some something keeping us away from ourselves and from another; and these aren’t meant to be walls, but rather meeting places, where we can touch again.
Temperance is an invitation of love, to meet in the middle, where two worlds can touch, and kiss.
In this way, temperance becomes a gifted listener also. Its essence is reminiscent of a Zen koan, which are the short stories, questions and riddles designed by Zen masters to help their students perceive the truth behind the surface level and images of everyday reality. The purpose and intention of koans is to open the mind, intuition and perception to truth, which is often a very hard process and takes years, even lifetime, to master.
The gifted listener is often times an underappreciated talent of humanity. There are many secret feelings that exist beyond the surface of things, beyond what we hear and see, and it is our essence that joins them. The art of listening is actually a reflective craft, just like poetry. We need to stop and think, and be fully present also – and yet isn’t passive; listening is an active practice, immediate and continuous in its state of becoming. Listening is a talent and a gift, and yet like any talent it needs to be developed as a skill. Its treasures however are immense.
Our ability to listen – to open ourselves freely to experience what comes upon us and enters us like water allows for a deepening.
Every day is a God, and his holiness unfolds itself through time.
Love itself has many shades, nuances and layers like an art painting. And each phase of a relationship is purposeful and beautiful in its own way. People often want to read articles with steps about happiness and more intimacy – and yet it shouldn’t be more than seven steps because our attention span has greatly decrease and we’ll scroll to an Instagram meme or photo instead, to gain wisdom. But love isn’t about steps. There are no steps. All we need to do is just look into the eyes of our beloved and pay attention – notice, truly notice.
We all have worlds within us, unique emotional wildlands that need attention and understanding and exploring. We are not only lovers, we are mystics of love, and in love. And we all change too, just like the soul of a relationship changes through the years as it grows. No matter how many years we’ve lived with someone under the same roof, there are layers to them, parts of them, that we have yet to explore, and re-explore, because we’re ever changing. Hearts are a fragile thing, and we shouldn’t take love for granted.
And there are many nuances and beautiful complexities in the layers we have. And so many ways to make love – through gestures, smiles, ears, helping hands. And we shouldn’t kiss the way we always did – we should kiss our beloved the way they need to right now. When we pay attention, we re-explore the kissing, the holding and the caring.
True kindness reveals itself when we are in moments of confusion and despair. And through love we can shape it with words and art. And words matter. They are not mere letters on a paper, they have great potentials to change emotions, perspectives, so we must be mindful and infuse our words with love and compassion. The beauty of compassion is that it will always inexhaustibly continue to shelter and save our world, ourselves and each other.
Scott Russell Sanders writes that talents are gifts that come to us by birth rather than by any virtue of our own, and we have a responsibility to use these gifts for the benefit of others. One person may have a talent for storytelling, another for music, another for mathematics or mechanics. The Lakota holy man Black Elk said that gifts are never really meant for the individual but for the tribe; a vision, a poem, a song, a healing touch, a loving hug, a word, a smile, or any other blessing takes on meaning, for the Lakota, only when it is danced before the people, only when it is shared.
Publishing a book is a way of dancing before the people. The making of poems or stories or essays is a way of giving to the world a part of our blessing received and channeled through us, and our eyes, and our hearts, and our hands; it is a way of sharing our verbal gifts.
Tenderness too is meant to be shared, to be danced before others. Kindness too. Compassion too. Love too. Our gift of listening and noticing and holding too.
And so, my dear reader, fellow writers, artists, lovers: continue to make and spread your kindness and love, continue to seek it, continue to nurture it and dance it. The world needs you. I need you.
For it is a true talent, to have a heart that sees love and beauty, and never gives up uncovering and showing another person the love and beauty that they might have temporarily forgotten within them.
If you value what I do, you can support me and my publication Art of Love by sharing my articles and poems, buy my books or donate some magic coins in my hat on Paypal. By supporting me, you allow me the freedom and ability to be even more creative and contribute with more. All proceeds go towards expanding my work made of love, including publishing my books, my humanitarian projects and creating content including courses and holistic programs. And if you would like to work with me, visit my Sacred Offerings.
Your support means so much to me! Thank you wholeheartedly!
Cover art by Maxime Simoncelli.