Written By: Angie Noll
A friend’s brother chooses to be a tramp. He’s in his fifties now, and has lived on the streets all his adult life. His other three siblings are all what you’d call normal adults living normal lives with families of their own and regular jobs. Every year the tramp comes home for Christmas, wearing all his worldly belongings on his person, the way homeless people do. He spends Christmas and Boxing Day with his family, has his laundry done and gets his beard trimmed. After the two days of celebrations, he returns to the street. His parents accept his choice of lifestyle. They love him regardless.
I am completely inspired by such unconditional love. Would I be able to love as they do if it were one of my own children choosing to live on the street? When I was a teenager, I learnt that my Mom was homeless and sleeping at the train station in Johannesburg at night. I remember feeling very confused – and also disgusted. A far cry from unconditional love. This was probably one of the first events that prompted me to think about what it really means to love another person unreservedly – something I still ponder about on a daily basis. Let’s face it, sometimes, our children can behave in very unlovable ways.
|We all have the seeds of love in us. We can develop this wonderful source of energy, nurturing the unconditional love that does not expect anything in return.
– THICH NHAT HANH, Teachings on Love
Without realizing it, we often place subtle conditions on the love that we’re prepared to demonstrate to our children. We send the message to them that they need to perform in a certain way, achieve a specific goal or behave in a prescribed manner first before we give them hugs, kisses and our undivided attention. I know I’ve been guilty of this at one time or another.
Fortunately, it’s stories like the one about the tramp who still receives unconditional love from his parents that quickly puts things back into perspective for me. I’m reminded me that my own children are perfect just as they are – even if what they are is imperfect. That’s exactly how they should be.
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