After having been standing by the gate of the garden for a long time, Siddhartha realized that his desire was foolish, which had made him go up to this place, that he could not help his son, that he was not allowed to cling to him. Deeply, he felt the love for the run-away in his heart, like a wound, and he felt at the same time that this wound had not been given to him in order to turn the knife in it, that it had to become a blossom and had to shine.
-Herman Hesse, from Siddhartha
Yesterday, my yoga teacher asked us to think back on 2018 and reflect on something positive we had learned. I immediately thought about boundaries and how to have a healthy balance between self-love and self-care and loving and caring for others.
I recently re-read Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. I find myself returning to the books that shaped my young adult life. And I find that, by seeing them with different eyes, different themes present themselves to me. Whereas the young me was drawn to the spiritual journey awaiting the burgeoning Buddha, the mid-life me is drawn to the life-worn Siddhartha, the man who has been shaped by his loves and losses, by his risks and failures, and by the lessons he is able to draw from the life he has lived.
And this quote in particular stuck out to me. Here is the aging Siddhartha, who discovers that he has a teenage son, only to lose him. And he wants to cling, to hold him close, to heal him, to love him back into relationship. How many of us have felt this—the desire to live another’s journey, simply to spare that person from pain? And did it ever work?
What Siddhartha learns, and what I learned in 2018 is that it never works. And not only does it not work, it actually causes harm—to ourselves and to others. Healthy love recognizes the autonomy that exists for us as sentient beings, recognizes that we all come here with a journey that can only lived by us, and recognizes that sometimes the best we can do is be silent or give space.
Before shedding the old to embrace the new, I invite you to explore what you have learned this year, something that changed your life and maybe something you want to carry into 2019.
Many blessings for a wonderful new year!
See you in 2019!