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The more I move on in life, the more I realise that not only I am not in control, but that trying to be in control gets in the way of the gifts we are being offered. You might object that getting seriously ill or losing a loved one are far from being gifts. And anyhow, isn’t this fatalistic, resigned to being a puppet at the mercy of the winds? Shouldn’t we do our best to avoid the calamities of life and go in search of happiness?

I agree of course, and would never advocate suffering for the sake of suffering. But what I have discovered along the years is that trying to impose my will against all odds doesn’t work, that I first need to listen, that is, be aware of what the life energy is telling me: is it saying, ‘don’t go this way’ or, on the contrary, ‘go ahead, you are heading in the right direction?’

For there are times when, on the verge of making a decision, we find that everything gets in the way. It happened to me years ago: I wanted to buy a derelict house in the South of France and during the two weeks I tried to make things work, I found myself unable to sleep or eat; I was also crying all over the place and ended up bashing my car. Clearly, my whole being was screaming, ‘don’t do it.’  I finally listened and decided not to buy the house. It was extraordinary. My body immediately relaxed and I began to sleep and eat again.

In contrast, four years ago, when I decided to move to the country and leave London behind,  not only did I find the perfect house but the whole move happened swiftly without the least encumbrance; even the bathroom cabinet I had searched for in vain in several shops was waiting for me in a skip in front of my very front door.  Life was smiling, reassuring me that my decision was not as foolish as many of my friends believed then; irrational, yes, but rationality is not always the right criterion.

This is to say that our lives follow a thread, usually visible only years later, but meaningful. This is to say that we are taken care of, especially when nothing seems to make sense. What is demanded from us is trust and letting ourselves be loved. And it is perhaps no accident that the very theme of my latest book, On the Other Side of Love – to be published at the end of March 2016 – is about the journey of a woman at first swamped in despair and confusion, then surviving, then discovering that what had thrown her had been the catalyst of her new, stronger, happier self.

To conclude, I would say, be grateful whatever happens. The good and the bad, the joy and the pain are all to be embraced. This is not always easy to do but it is, I believe, the best way to a life worth living.

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Born and raised in France, Muriel Maufroy worked as a journalist for the BBC World Service for many years. She has published a book of Rumi's quotations called Breathing Truth and is the autor of two novels, Rumi's Daughter and The Garden of Hafez. She has a degree in Persian from SOAS in London.

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