On Being

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So it has taken me awhile to really feel that I could write this. I knew it had to take a rather pensive evening, when i was feeling particularly vulnerable.

“A year changes you a lot,” – Fact, only if you allow the experiences to.

How we react to situations is a summation of our personality and the life experiences (conditioning). What makes us anxious or fearful is where our boundaries or limits are; where we have drawn the lines for ourselves to keep our space safe.

I have been actively placing my head space in the very emotions and thoughts that scare me. The ones that make me feel weak and anxious. Sounds pretty cheesey and out of one of those motivational books (that I have never felt compelled to read by the way, though no offence to anyone); but I’ve been looking inward as I explored my world, to understand these things that were making me uneasy and causing an overwhelming surge of emotions. And this is what I found.

Acceptance – When you accept that you are limited and only human, that not everything can be in your control, you accept that others too are only human and there is a limit to what they can do.

By accepting the fact that I would never be always perfect and know what to do nor predict all situations, i was able to exercise compassion for the self, which extended to having compassion for others.

The beauty I found in compassion came as if a light was switched on, followed by a row of dominos falling; it was expansive, and I ended up finding a capacity in my heart that I never knew could exist.

We often associate strength with bruteness, shear self willpower, trudging through the dirt and mud that is life. In focusing on building the strength of self in this way, leads to focusing on huge areas of limitations. Ideas that you are not and will never be enough, and because you aren’t good enough, you are weak because you do not possess the strength to will upon your desires.

The thing about compassion, while originating inwardly, it allows you to see and accept people as they have presented themselves, and not for what they lack. You perceive needs over flaws, vulnerabilities and spaces you cannot touch so you respect that, instead of picking them out as “problems to be fixed”.

And this is why I adore children; their untainted ability to always desire to learn and become better because they know that they cannot do it. Their fearlessness to ask for help, and their honesty when things feel difficult.

Compassion has relit that part of my heart, and while anxiety still strikes from time to time, my compassion drives me to want to give love and support more than what my fears are telling me. What bad could happen honestly?

And with compassion of the self, we understand what it is we need to feel loved and supported and what it means to love and support the ones we do love.
“To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love
As girls, we are often told that our life and beauty fades with age – I doubt this is true because never have I felt more whole, secure and overflowing with desire to give and love as I do now.
XX,
T

A permanent ephemerality

(wrote this for a submission)

A scar is a mark on the skin or within the body tissue, where a wound has not healed completely and fibrous connective tissue has developed. There are various treatment options to lighten scars, to lessen their appearance because we don’t often get to choose where they form and how they look.

A tattoo on the other hand, is often done to memorialise a significant thing or event in one’s life, worn much like an accessory; strategically placed.

Cliché but I had a tattoo done after a break-up. It was not my first one (break-up and tattoo) but admittedly, the one of great significance (break-up and tattoo).

A concept in traditional Japanese belief, mono-no-aware which literally translates to the “bittersweet poignancy of things,” is a concept to describe the transience of human life. The cherry blossom is often picked to explain this as the flower blooms intensely, but for a very short time each year. As the flowers die, their petals fall like pink snow, and the ground is covered by a layer of soft pink; and this is where we perceive it as its most beautiful, while fully aware that this is how the cherry blossoms die. Its impermanence is therefore bittersweet,  for we are able to recognise its beauty in its passing.

It was the dream – the university boyfriend, graduating together, heading out to work and applying for that BTO. But sometimes growing up meant growing apart. And sadly for me, or for us – we kept growing further apart, not even love could save us.

So yes, I had cherry blossoms tattooed. On my right, on the ribs. It was a bundle with flowers intensely pink and flowers that faded into a mere outline. I first chose the cherry blossoms to remind me that my pain too was ephemeral or that even beautiful and delicate things will come to pass. Maybe, I wanted to convince myself that there was no point in holding on to anything for that matter.

Getting inked on your ribs is not fun by the way – but the pain of my heartbreak, the idea and having a really amazing tattoo artist helped.

Naturally, the pain faded and the gears of time continued to turn. Change and challenge, both positive and negative seemed to be the theme of the years that followed; People came and left, I saw friends through their own break-ups, losing relatives to sickness and cancer, I received opportunities at work. Had a mid life crisis. Dated around with much disappointment. It finally came to a point where I knew I was emotionally spent; I woke up one day, completely inconsolable seemingly with no particular reason at all. Had I played around too much with my own heart? Was I being too hard on myself, believing I had to be an achiever, that I had to be perfect, smart, strong, desirable all the time in all aspects of my life? Obviously this act that I had on had eaten up all that I truly was.

Throughout it all though, I was met with truly inspiring people.

While I wept, I felt myself surrender to my vulnerabilities – I started to ask myself what the point was in all that I was doing. Did being perfect (or constantly trying to live up to that) make me a better person? Is this pursuit making me happy? Did it matter if I was not strong enough?

Was it okay to tell my friends, that I needed them? – Yes.

While my tattoo served as a scar for the wound and the pain at that point in time; a reminder to never hold on too long and too much to things in this world because of their impermanence; choosing to see it in this way merely built walls in places where there should be openness. And instead of acceptance, I was running from how I was truly feeling deep inside. Instead of embracing my scars, I wanted to flaunt them as proof of victory, that I am this strong and fearless being of a girl. The more I wept, the more I felt all the built up emotions and tension leave. I reached out to my sisters and close friends, openly admitting that I needed to be around people who I knew loved me exactly for the person I am because I couldn’t do this anymore.

A friend said to me, “I don’t just want to hear from you when times are good, because I am here even at your saddest,”

I told another friend, expressing to her how fragile I was feeling. And she swept me up with a huge hug and said, “always remember that you are loved as you are, and in full,”

And this is where I felt most bittersweet; In all the emotions that was running through me, and where I was fragile and most unloveable, I was witnessing love that had always existed around me, but I was simply too caught up to see. And in bearing witness, I further observed that the perception of the beauty in life is heightened amid the wreckage of the heart and mind.

In times of sadness and loss, our family and friends surround us with love and warmth. A coffee treat from a colleague seeing you so stressed out. Or even as simple as a friendly smile from a stranger when the run of the day is written all over your face.

This very duality is too what makes life beautiful, while almost contradictory, accepting it provides a sense of peace. Mono-no-aware – we mourn the impermanence and loss, but recognise the beauty amidst this. And to observe and to understand these contrasting ends, we are left with the acceptance and appreciation of all that we have in the current time.

As I was healing emotionally, the cherry blossoms on my ribs were yet again becoming another scar. A reminder of the beauty in demise. A mark of the beauty in life’s dualities, the ephemerality of things, forever etched on the skin.

XX,

T

Epiphany

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[On Love] – I guess I always knew, that what I needed was a home everywhere that I needed to roam. 

You could say, life is marked by each epiphany. I had one today; my strengths.

For a couple of months before the new year I was struggling heavily with the anxiety of not being strong enough. I had a sinking feeling in my gut, that I would be handed a challenge in life. One much more challenging than any other, and progressively i become anxious and terribly fearful that I would not be able to survive it with the grace that it required. That I couldn’t face this battle on my own; that I was not enough.

Only 3 weeks into 2017 and life really has its way of creating a whirlwind. I have been blessed to meet generous souls; with hearts so overflowing with their passion to create a better world. Being dealt with the challenges that they have, but overcoming those challenges and then seeing that as gifts to empower others who are desolate in their situation. On a more subtle end, the persons that I have crossed paths with, to remind me what I love and what I can’t.

And the epiphany came like one of those “when you know it you know it” kind of moments. In spite of all that was unfolding around me, there was this sense of calm that swept over me. A calmness that was firm and confident. I was not feeling scraped, raw nor fragile.

At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” – Lao Tzu.

We all have our own life paths. A path that meanders and intertwines with others. Challenges are crossroads, but all roads lead you to where you need to be. Everyone’s life path will be different, and some more than others. Some people call it God’s will, some believe that it was the universe’s conspiring. Or maybe even, the “Grand Scheme Of Things,” – whatever it is, life will unfold in the way it needs to.

While almost sounding close to the cause of my anxiety (lack of control/knowing); Our brain seems to need these contradictions to maintain its sanity. By accepting the fact that life will have its way no matter what, it was easier to accept that I needn’t be strong enough all the time. Instead, all I can do really, is to commit to the things I believe in, to constantly live life in the best way, and to give love where I can. To forgive people for being only human. And in accepting my vulnerability, I understood my strengths. I understood how I loved, and how I needed to be loved. I fell deeper in love with the connections I had with my family and friends.

 

As Lao Tzu once said, “life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.

 

XX,

 

T.

 

 

happy new year

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“Don’t be afraid to feel too much, speak too much. In a world where hearts are as cold as ice, and words are being drawn back because of the fear of rejection, always say how you feel. You never know how kind words help people with their own battle. Words are powerful, they can either kill a person, or help a wound heal faster. The choice is yours to use it.”
So, happy new year. However you had spent it, I hope there was love and happiness felt.
We often mark ends and beginnings with moments of reflection. To reflect on the year that had past, to gloss over “regrets” and maybe even pen down resolutions and goals for the year, and swear that this year will be there year for these things.

This could potentially make me come across as being resigned to fate, or maybe even a defeatist; but maybe we should do away with these resolutions and give up on trying to control every single thing that happens in life.

Bear with me here, for I am not saying that you should totally release all responsibility and accountability from yourself. I am not saying that you should not have dreams nor goals.

But that maybe, life really is what it is; Life is to be lived.

To be lived – as in to never stop trying. To continually seek out truths; truths about the world and truths about yourself. To accept others for being human, to accept yourself as being human. That not everything is given, or permanent. That life is as fragile as it is resilient. Resilience and persistence pays off, and doing good for others sometimes means walking away.

That if it needs to be said, it should be said. To be the bigger person always, but understand that it is not always easy to be that bigger person.

That not everything in life has a reason, or be made black and white. But understand where your boundaries lie.

To expect less but to always strive for more.

That the world will still go on without you, but that there are people who love you dearly for who you are so you should never force yourself into being someone you’re not just to make someone else like you better.

To love fiercely, and fearlessly.

That challenges always make us better, so be patient.

But most importantly, to cherish every day of this journey. Because there will be days where you feel like you can’t.

Because maybe, life is to be lived; in its truest and fullest. Sincere and unabashed.

XX,

T.

Turning Points

“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.” – Australian Aboriginal saying

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In spite of fearing what I might find if I looked inward, I searched. “Why is your heart overflowing with sadness?”

 

“Because I feel like I don’t have anymore to give,”

 

And thats okay.

 

I found courage in being vulnerable.

 

As said earlier, thing about life is that, feelings and life itself are not permanent – how do we make the most of it? How do we help make an impact on another person’s life. There may be no higher purpose, but to be loved by the ones who matter and to be able to love them back is at the heart of all things true. To know that we are all going through hardships, and instead of fighting ourselves, how can we use our talents to help the people and world around us.

 

 

If we place happiness, as the ends of our pursuit of it – we run into a conundrum because situations will always change. Happiness exists as a derivation, not as an end.

 

Its okay to feel sad, because we are human and capable of a rainbow of emotions.

 

Then remember the things that are close to your heart and the limited time you have.

 

I hope you find solace there.

 

XX

T.