Why Taking A Sabbatical Year Can Be A One Way Ticket To Amazing Self Love And Acceptance

Painting by  Serge Marshennikov

Painting by Serge Marshennikov

If you take the time to listen to people, you will notice that behind every layer of cynicism, every layer of hopelessness, there is a disappointment related to love. And when I say love, I don’t mean strictly erotica, but any type of love that we lacked and we craved for. Sometimes, when I meet someone, I feel like asking: how much have you been affected by love? No matter how advanced the cynicism or how deep the disappointment, there is only one cure for problems caused by love, it is called love. From love, we get to experience the fall downs, from love we get the high hopes and when else but when we fall in love, we feel so strongly that joy of living? The opposite is true: when else but when we suffer because of love, we get to feel so strongly the misery of living in pain and solitude?

Would you like your next year to be a year full of love? But without knowing if it will be a year of misery or of joy. What would you choose for the year to come between a year of love or a year without? Would you prefer living or everything standing still in silence? Because loving means living. And at the very core of humanity there is this desire to connect to each other through love.

When I took the sabbatical year that could actually transform itself into a sabbatical lifetime, there were people who thought I have gone a little mad but I secretly knew that only if I manage to myself happy first, I could make the people around me happy. I sometimes joke with my friends and say that meanwhile I started my second year at the Sabbatical University. I believe a sabbatical lifetime is one in which you dedicate yourself to your passion, in which weekends chase to exist and you don’t hate Mondays and love Fridays. I remember these lyrics from Oasis: “I can’t get a life if my heart is not in it”. It saddens me that there are so many people feeling lost and not knowing what they really want. It sadness me also that they will need to walk alone the road to discovering their own true desires. You can write me if you please, my middle name is Doctor Heart! But don’t worry if it takes me long to respond, I am very busy daydreaming most of the time!

I took a sabbatical year to dedicate myself to my passions, painting and writing. I took time to unify my being, to distinguish between what I want and what others expect me to do. My inner voice was telling me to first learn to love myself, to explore my own emotional depth and find the patterns that could lead to dissatisfaction. For the first time, I chose my own path in life: a journey of self expression, in search of the only truth that is fully accessible to myself: my truth. And if people can tune in to this truth then maybe they will feel inspired to find their own truth.

During this year I painted a lot and wrote numerous texts that I was writing to help me understand myself better. I discovered a new passion for yoga and went on reading a lot, especially psychology. I have always been a passionate reader, my room is filled with paper books. Slowly, my room become my office and all the work I was doing was dedicated to myself.  It is a pleasant feeling to take a little care of yourself. Later on, when life decided to surprise me again and my book was published, I wrote this dedication on the first page: “To I”, which is somehow ambiguous, but I like this duality, it is dedicated to a person and as well to myself. We cannot do anything by ourselves, just like we cannot expect others to do everything for us. I discovered during this sabbatical year of mine that love is a balance between I and us.

I investigated a lot on this love subject and I insisted as well on the practical aspects. I fooled a bit on Tinder, just to rediscover that love is not something immediately graspable, but it requires time to build and mutual respect, as well as self respect. Meanwhile, I went on living my obsession about the idea of love. Now I feel brave enough to confess that I am obsessed, but you show me someone that hasn’t dealt with this at least once.

Painting by Serge Marshennikov

Painting by Serge Marshennikov

I travelled a bit during this year, I kept swinging between my home town and Bucharest and went several times to the seaside. I always liked the sea, its nostalgia and the way summer evenings seem to transform into something bubbly and cheerful when you spend them with your friends. We even crashed a wedding and invented a three volume story together when the surroundings were getting boring. I kept swinging between my home town and Bucharest, always carrying around a luggage filled with books and art supplies. I said I was taking this trips for inspiration, but I was doing them for the mere delight of travel. Even today, I still have a suitcase prepared in my room because who knows when I get a chance to hit the road again. This world is so big and I want to see it all, I am that insatiable. But I do know that real journeys happen inside of us.

I spent my sabbatical year at the border between fact and fiction. Sometimes, for people like me, inclined to dreaming and floating, there should be someone to ground them. But no one grabbed my legs pulling me down so I started flying higher and higher. I became more anchored in the present, but not the present as it is, but something floaty as if living inside an imaginary time in the presence of my thoughts. I started having a very distorted time perception: sometimes two days ago seem like ages or something that happened some months ago becomes very vivid and strong. I stopped carrying about many things, but especially about what others expect me to do, I said: you will not live instead of me, the only thing I am sure of is the clarity and strength of my desire. What I desire is a very long story, because I have a sort of attraction to the impossible that most artists have. But sometimes only when the desire is very pure, it can make its way from imagination to reality. Now, I don’t say everybody out there get lost inside your imagination, just be aware that no material possession could make you as happy as a bit of love.

It was a year which had the consistency of a dream, something floaty and transparent. Try to do this mental exercise: imagine everybody around becoming a little transparent and you could see clearly their intentions and desires. If you look attentively through me, you might see a painting, one that I am thinking about or one that I will never paint. And the one that I will never paint is precisely your creative impulse. It’s up to you if you want to follow it or not, but that impulse will always exist. It is up to your imagination to live well. I wish you all to follow your own creative impulse.

It was a year like a dream, but I do have some clear memories. I remember a particular day at the seaside with my friend, when I discovered a beautiful old town facing the sea. I bought myself an ice cream and walked around, marvelling at all the beauty around. It is something very pleasant about involving all your senses in present tense. I see, I hear, I taste, I smell, I touch. I feel therefore I am.

When I took a sabbatical year, I was not completely aware that I was choosing a year of love, in which to check constantly the temperature of my heart and investigate my very own relationship with love as an expression of my desire to connect with people. It is maybe a never-ending dilemma of art and writing from all times between solitude and humanity, between I and us. This approach of mine is a strange mix between science and magic. Magic because my artwork flourishes from the emotional depth we all have and rational because I filter all those emotions through the thinking process. Trying to understand how our own emotional reactions work is something I believe we should all do, to try to investigate those patterns that could lead to dissatisfaction. We cannot control the love level in other persons but we are indeed fully responsible for own love capacities. Because otherwise we could stand at the roots of other people’s misery and cynicism. For the year to come, I propose you to take an inner journey and find your own relationship with love, not only erotica, but all the types of love, for friends, for family and last but not least, for humanity. Maybe at the end of this fluid process that involves all your being, you will discover like I did that the heart is the center of the universe.

Laura Livia Grigore is a poet, painter and psychology enthusiast, with a background in space engineering. She likes to experiment with various mediums and types of writing. Her artwork is orientated on emotions, reflecting her opinion that most of the answers we need can be found inside ourselves, although the hardest thing to do is to be sincere with oneself. You can purchase her book here

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