I was pondering a line from poet Jack Gilbert, sent to me by a reader: “We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world.” I was wondering about the ruthless furnace of this world and all the forms it takes, and how to stay connected to gladness in the face of it.
The day after I got the email with that quote, I got an email from another reader, which seemed to address my wonderings perfectly. She said, “Look at this ancient wisdom I am finding in my unfiled emails!!” And this is what she sent, Tenacity Notes #65. From 6 years ago! It is so nice to have these reminders! I wrote it after I’d been in bed with pneumonia for many days. It says:
“I got a bit barky after being sick for so long (just ask Debra!) The other thing I got was bleak. Depressed. Life seemed gray. I’d been sick in one way or another since late September, culminating with pneumonia. I hadn’t been breathing much at all, just little shallow breaths, certainly not my 15 minutes of intentional breathing. I was ill, I was hurting, and I was bummed out.
As I lay in bed feeling bleak, I asked myself some questions. It seemed obvious that feeling good physically makes it easier to feel good generally. But is it a given that my physical state determines my mental state? Don’t I know something that could be of use to me now?
I remembered that many of you had written to me about your delight in using the practice of emanating love. One of you said, “It’s like a charm.”
So as I lay in bed, coughing, short on oxygen, and feeling weak and depleted, I emanated love. It worked like a charm! Bleakness fled, depression lifted, and I felt something like contentment. Now, whenever I begin to feel glum, I take that as a reminder to emanate love.
Feeling glum is my ally, it reminds me to emanate love! There are lots of other allies, too. Fear, anxiety, blame, shame, comparing, judgment, crabbiness, aloofness, and so on and so forth. All of them allies, reminding me to emanate love.
It’s true that I generally consider myself to be of robust health, and even at my sickest I knew it would pass. I don’t in any way want to make light of anyone else’s suffering. But I do want to gently suggest that if you’re ever feeling glum, try emanating love.
We practice emanating love for the joy of it. And we also practice so that when we come up against a tough situation, we have well-honed skills readily at hand.”
Emanating love is a way to accept your gladness.