Posted in Writing Life

*Monday Experiment: Values 1

After reading about the experiment in which female physics students improved their grades merely by writing about what they valued in life and why, I decided to do the same myself and see what would transpire. Litlove (whose blog about literature is thought provoking and preceptive) suggested that the exercise be posted and so I decided to do that every Monday until the end of the year.

Litlove’s wonderful post about her own beliefs is here. I found it energizing and exciting to read–and it made me think that there might also be a positive contagion in blogging this way. It certainly pushed me to get right to my own post. My method is this: to hand write for 15 minutes on Saturday, type it up on Sunday, post it on Monday.

A bit of background first: a few years ago, I wrote a constitution for my life, which, periodically I review and update. It begins with four principles, so I began this exercise by taking the first principle and expanding on it. Here goes.

Since we are in this world as separate beings in order to experience love and diversity, I value love above all because to stand in love is to stand in light, which is our origin, our true being, and our purpose. This is what everyone wishes, I think, to love and be loved, to be accepted wholly, cherished as a unique and inimitable being.

And it is this wish and need that provides the attraction of all the stand-ins that we seek as we negotiate the material world, accumulating status, possessions, or other simulacra for love. I can feel the shift when I move from a state of anxiety or despair to a sense of peace and connectedness. From anticipation of fraught outcomes, I move to a clarity that I am here, now, this moment, in a world of wonder, challenging yes, but awe inspiring and funny and lovable.

I value creativity as a holy act. It is holy because it happens as we open to love and light and wonder and it opens us further. It brings us into closer knowledge of the material world, its properties and its possibilities and therefore its nature as an emanation of light. This is not to say that I believe the world was created in 6 days. (I added this to ensure that I am not misunderstood).

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am enamoured of science precisely because it illuminates the universe of the small, the large and the strange. That doesn’t in any way contradict my spiritual connection; it enhances it. From the complex and lengthy endeavour of writing a novel to baking muffins with a new kind of jam or crocheting a scarf (I’m in the middle of that one), experimenting with yarns because I don’t have enough to do it all the same way, I am always learning more.

Some of what I learn is about the mind or about God in doing this. And some of what I learn is about yarn and about sugar, but to my mind, in being present with the world and shifting yet again from anxiety to peace, my muffins, too are an act of love. I know, very well, the sadness of life, having experienced it first hand and wrestled young with why I had to contend with such terrible things. But that is the price of existence, for all qualities exist as soon as there is division. If there were only light, if there were only oneness, there would be no world. Since there is a world of warm and cold, then there is health and sickness, kindness and cruelty, solid earth and quaking earth and everything in between. And it makes living in the world difficult.

So it is only natural to be afraid, and out of fear can arise anger, rage, resentment or anxiety, panic, despair. But one may always return to a place of love in which we can hold ourselves and others gently. There we remember who we really are and what really matters, that here, there is love and here, there is wonder at the magnificent otherness of stars and atoms, of jams in many colours and all the flavours of ice cream.

And in that place of strength, one may also call shit what it is–and refuse it. But that is next week’s post.

I believe in love…., originally uploaded by Carl Loves Somerset.

Next week: solidarity.


Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

10 thoughts on “*Monday Experiment: Values 1

  1. Rachel, thanks for reading it. I edited the post and expanded it to explain my perspective a bit more, realizing that the 15 minute exercise compressed my thoughts so that other people might misunderstand if I didn’t expand it.

    I know that not everyone will share my spiritual beliefs. But I think that many of the people whose blogs I read share my appreciation of the world around us, the opportunities to know it better, and to love my corner of it and the people in it.

  2. This is beautiful and profound. I find it hard to believe in the centrality of love because I don’t think of myself primarily as lovable. And from that point all that is difficult in my life emanates, I suppose. I love that you are going to do more of these and I’m looking forward to them.

  3. “Since we are in this world as separate beings in order to experience love and diversity…” — I love this idea. How can we experience love if we aren’t at least a little separate and different? Intriguing.

    1. Dorothy, I once dated a man who was an identical twin. We only went on one date. He relished being a twin. So much so that he told me his ideal would be to find the female version of himself. I found that awfully creepy.

  4. This is so beautiful, Lilian. And I echo your comment to Litlove absolutely on all counts – “Oh Litlove, there was a time I thought nearly everyone was lovable but me. And you are eminently lovable. ((((((Litlove))))) Those are hugs if acceptable!” – me too! And please take some hugs for yourself while I’m at it!!!

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