Paulo Coelho wrote- “No one loses anyone, because no one owns anyone.
That is the true experience of freedom and loyalty.”
These words stuck a chord with me and I pondered the depth and scope of what it means to lose, to own, to love, to understand and to have freedom. It wasn’t enough for me to be content with my own rambling thoughts so I asked a few people to read Paulo’s quote and share their own perspective.
As always,when I ask…I receive back so much more and, once again, my eyes were opened to see the incredible insight and wisdom that others have.
“It makes me think of passing trees in a forest during a walk- I may stop and rest in the shade, or seek shelter from a sudden storm, admire its leaves or climb it’s branches, but it is not mine. The experience of kinship and admiration of it’s beauty is all I can claim to own.”
Her response came as I was walking around a farm that belonged to my family. I stood underneath a huge tree with a trunk so wide and thick that 3 people could wrap their arms around it and still just touch fingertips. The branches reached high towards the heavens and offered such a breathtaking shade canopy…and as I read my friends words again and again, I couldn’t help but think that is such a profound way of looking at Paulo’s words.
Every tree,like every person, is unique and some grow deep,strong roots and have a wide reach while others just never seem to grow and bloom. The trees in the forest and the farm were left alone- battered by the storms, warmed by the sun, soaked by the rain and they grew…much like people that let the experiences of life make them strong, gracious and beautiful.
However, I’ve always noticed that trees planted to look perfectly coordinated with the landscape, constantly pruned and clipped never seem quite as beautiful, strong , graceful or “real” as the trees that grow wild and free. Those ornamental trees take so much time and effort to keep in their “proper” place and their growth is stunted because they are owned by people that want the trees to appear a certain way, be a certain size and shape and do a certain thing.
Isn’t that like relationships? When someone tries to “own” another person- to control their growth,to prune their branches, to make them be “just so” then the relationship never really reaches high or grows deep, it doesn’t weather the storms well and it becomes so much less than it could be.
Yet when a person and a tree has freedom, the strength and beauty that grows is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful.
Another wise friend wrote this;
“No one owns anyone;the attempt is controlling and abusive. We should all feel like we are freely there in therelationship. And yes, that is the true experience of freedom and loyalty, but what Paulo says belies the pain of a lost relationship if it ends. That is some of the most intense pain.”
Which again made me think of trees and of birds.The huge variety of birds has always amazed me and I’ve read that every bird sounds different, too, with distinct songs and calls. I love seeing birds outside but whenever I see one in a cage, my heart just aches and yet I know that these types of birds are bred- pruned- for the purpose of looking pretty in their gilded cages, singing the only song they can, mimicking the words spoken to them. They have never experienced freedom and couldn’t survive if they were free to fly. They can only live if they are owned.
Some people want and need relationships like this. Maybe their past has cast such a long shadow that it covers their present and future with the flickers of pain and the only way they can give and accept love is with certain conditions- cages that lock others out and them inside.
They are so afraid of losing love, that they limit love and sometimes, they wind up losing the very thing they’ve tried so hard to hold tight.
It’s a type of control that makes sure the person, like an ornamental tree, stays right where it’s supposed to and looks as good as possible to everyone that comes around.
Yet, a long time friend shared this, “Rather than focusing upon the thought of possibly losing someone, perhaps I should focus upon gratitude for each moment that they choose to share their wonderful life with me.”
What if we took that perspective of his to heart? What if we loved deeply with gratitude that we have this moment, this opportunity, this person that chooses to love us back? What if we recognized love in all different forms..just as we see the beauty and purpose of all the trees in the woods and marvel at the numerous species of birds?
What if we were grateful for the time we had instead of regretting the time we’ve lost or worrying about how much time we might have left?
Maybe being “owned” is really what another wise man wrote in reply to my request. “It’s an undeniable truth when it comes to people. No one is truly owned by another, although it can feel like it. We give much to those we love, it might feel like a mutual agreement of ownership. But the ones we truly love and\or yearn for are the ones who have ‘ownership’ of us.”
Just as I love this place where I’ve built my massage business and consider it “mine” in so many ways, the truth of the matter is that I didn’t plant a single tree that brings me such joy..I can only be grateful that someone else did many years ago. I have planted flowers that will return year after year- growing more abundantly each time. I’ve loved this place deeply but I do not own it and when I leave, it’ll still be a part of me; carved into my heart and I’ll yearn for the patio and the peacefulness it gives me each day.
That’s also how I think of these people that shared their deepest thoughts with me. We don’t own each other but, in our special ways, we love and share and, in doing so, claim a mutual ownership of freedom and loyalty and as my friend said,
“There are definitely people I really miss,but that doesn’t diminish the joy of those I am with.”
If we can just ponder Paulo and put things into perspective maybe we’ll experience love the way it’s intended to be and we’ll offer shade, shelter, protection, and purpose to all those that we come to know and to love.
6 54 p.m. 5-30-18