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Transcendence

A part of me wants to believe that I’m above it all – a hopeful part. That somehow I don’t need the things my body tells me I do.

Mostly because I think that they hold me back.

Prevent me from becoming the person I envision myself to be.

There is a part of me that wants to believe for the sake of my own sanity – a confused part. That somehow I am stronger than my weakness.

For I have been made to believe that my body is my weakness.

That its momentary yearnings are the fickle cries of an untrained soul.

And so I find myself believing in a part of me that wants to keep fighting – a tired part. Trusting that individual effort will win out in the end.

It’s funny, I think, to think that I am more than what I see in the mirror.

Especially when I stare deep into the eyes of that other person staring back.

Tell him that he can get up and keep moving. Despite the constant doubt I have in his ability to do that which is necessary to be more than he already is.

Because for some reason, I don’t think that he’s enough.

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To be written down so as to not forget …

Remind yourself that when you die, your “in basket” won’t be empty.

So many of us live our lives as if the secret purpose is to somehow get everything done. We stay up late, get up early, avoid having fun, and keep our loved one waiting. Sadly, I’ve seen many people who put off their loved ones so long that the loved ones lose interest in maintaining the relationship. I used to do this myself. Often, we convince ourselves that our obsession with our “to do” list is only temporary – that once we get through the list, we’ll be calm, relaxed, and happy. But in reality, this rarely happens. As items are checked off, new ones simply replace them.

The nature of your “in basket” is that it’s meant to have items to be completed in it – it’s not meant to be empty. There will always be phone calls that need to be made, projects to complete, and work to be done. In fact, it can be argued that a full “in basket” is essential for success. It means your time is in demand!

Regardless of who you are or what you do, however, remember that nothing is more important than your own sense of happiness and inner peace and that of your loved ones. If you’re obsessed with getting everything done, you’ll never have a sense of well-being! In reality, almost everything can wait. Very little in our work lives truly falls into the “emergency” category. If you stay focused on your work, it will all get done in due time.

I find that if I remind myself (frequently) that the purpose of life isn’t to get it all done but to enjoy each step along the way and live a life filled with love, it’s far easier for me to control my obsession with completing my list of things to do. Remember when you die, there will still be unfinished business to take care of. And you know what? Someone else will do it for you! Don’t waste any more precious moments of your life regretting the inevitable.

This morning’s chapter out of “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Richard Carlson

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Fight The Feeling

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

I’ve never read the book but I’ve subscribed to the sentiment. This line has become something of a mantra for me in times of difficulty and struggle. It has helped me embrace my less desirable feelings and accept them for exactly what they are:

Feelings.

Nothing more, nothing less.

They do not control me and the actions I choose to make in response to having them. At the same time, I shouldn’t feel like I need to ignore them or pretend that they don’t exist.

Because they are an inextricable part of me that will never go away, whether I like it or not … and I honestly have never really liked them – the more negative emotions anyway. They were always the part of me that I felt like never really fit. Like an overly snug t-shirt that doesn’t quite let you breathe out all the way. The feelings of fear, anger, worry, sadness and heartbreak. That slow constriction of the heart. An unnatural squeezing of the air from your lungs and the thoughts from your mind. It is as if you are experiencing what it is to die before death really even registers as a possibility in your rapidly spinning brain. That feeling of dizziness that comes with heavy palpitations in your chest, a dry throat, and sweaty palms. I hate it.

I hate it. I hate it. I hate it.

Which is why, I think, I chose not to feel “it” for a long time. The disappointment that comes with feeling so much and knowing so little. Hanging there for that moment before the free fall into nothing … or maybe, possibly something.

For me, the rollercoaster has always been steady rolling. The ups and downs only high and low enough to keep me moving forward with some range. And I like it that way. But I know for a fact that it is no way to live a rich life. To not feel the rises and falls deep in the pit of my stomach. As if they do not at all serve some sort of purpose but to make me sick and unhappy. But that’s the whole point isn’t it? To feel awful for a bit in order to realize that feeling awful isn’t so bad. That it can actually feel kind of good if you open your eyes and let go of the railing. Scream at the top of your lungs. Smile. Laugh. Look around and see that there are others around you experiencing the same thing. Realize that you are not alone on this wild, crazy ride.

For the longest time I thought that enjoying life meant not feeling all the bad things that came with it. To try and stop them from happening at all costs. When in reality all these “bad” things were really doors that I had never dared enter because of the labels I had placed on them. Self imposed labels that did not represent the contents beyond the threshold of each.

We get out of life what we dare try, and for me that means trying to fight the feeling to run away.

Especially from the doors that I don’t “feel” like opening.

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On Giving

I started feeding a cat recently.

So it has been showing up at my door every morning and every night. Some days, I’ll open my door and she’ll just dash in, giving me a bit of a scare.

At the beginning, I did so just because I sort of felt like it. I went to the store and bought cat food (even though I technically do not own a cat) in the event that one, two, or more happened to stroll through, which is an event that happens way more often than one would think. Later on it became more of an expectation. This cat, whom I’ve named Buster because she kind of “busts” on in whenever she feels like it, looks at me and starts meowing and rubbing against me as if to say that it’s time to get moving and roll out the kibble. She even remembers where it is kept, will sit and wait for me to come back down from upstairs, and give me a look as though I owe it to her.

And to be honest, this look has gotten a little on my nerves.

Mostly because, to be clear, I don’t “owe” her anything. We don’t even really know each other that well. The only reason she hangs out with me is to get food. Is she just using me? It’s not like I have a lot of money. I’m a volunteer for chrissakes. This train of thought continued until the day I ran out and had to decide whether or not I had it in me to go out and buy some more. It would be totally reasonable to stop this right here, right now. But then I got to thinking about the lesson she might be trying to teach me. Yes, this rude little grey and white momma that I am kind of maybe allergic to.

Okay, yes I am allergic to cats, but it hasn’t been acting out so bad here in Thailand.

We move through life giving of ourselves willfully. We volunteer our time, our money, our energy, and sometimes, our food. But oftentimes what we start to do with great enthusiasm and zeal turns into a task burdened by a heavy heart because we feel as if we are not receiving anything in return for our hard work, good will, and effort. Maybe at times it even feels like we are being used or are painfully, even purposely, being left out, unappreciated. And yet, it is important to realize that there is no one there that is really forcing our hand. What we do is our choice. How others choose to react or respond to it is theirs. When we give it should be because we want to. And if we decide to stop we need to think about why. Are we acting from a place of true desire or expectation? Because if we are expecting something in return, we will most likely be disappointed. But if we give merely to see the action of giving being carried out, then we can always find a way to win. There is joy to be found in doing good things because we want to.

Long story short, Buster had her first dish of little tuna stars this morning. Delish!

 

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Tired But Happy

We argue for our limitations, and they become our limitations.

Every night I tell myself that I am going to take time to write, and I never do. I’m just too damn tired. If only I were an ageless vampire that never had to sleep. Or a mutant superhero with the ability to stop time. Then maybe I’d be able to put something together without sacrificing too many much needed minutes before bed. 

It just takes me so much time these days to come up with something, anything to write about.

My mind has become increasingly harder to unravel. It seems almost like the bubbling spring of words that I once had coming out of me has run dry. There is just nothing to say. And yet, I want to continue trying. Writing is a form of communication that I think only becomes better with practice and so, in the spirit of honing my blade in both times of peace and of war, here I go:

At the moment, I am tired and happy.

Tired because there are so many demands being placed on me as a person and individual of peculiar importance.

Happy because I’ve figured out that I have everything I need to be so.

Peculiar in the sense that I am something of a name and a face in my village. Everyone seems to know who I am, which is odd and wonderful, like so many things here. Being an Asian person in a land full of Asian people. Every day I get the same confused stare. Yes, I am American. But then, “Why do you look so much like a Thai person?”

Residing in the peaceful joy of being accepted as someone who is other.

Working hard to become someone who can be respected as an equal in the community.

Not always understanding what people are saying and yet nodding my head and following along. Talking back and recognizing my face as though looking in a mirror. Seeing myself in others – friends, family, and familiar places that feel like home.

One of the reasons why I came here was to escape the familiar, which is why this shift has brought with it a certain degree of fatigue. All the baggage that I thought I left back in the States, every fear, every weakness, and every piece of insecurity that I had hoped had been lost in the ocean over which I flew on my way here, is coming back to be claimed.

Only now I think I am more aware of how it can all be sorted. There are more pieces that “fit” and make sense to me. I’m starting to get a clearer picture of the puzzle and my place in it.

I’m happier than I’ve ever been, regardless of the fact that I have so much less.

Less time, less space, less money, less access to material goods, less water, less language ability, less mobility, less freedom, you name it and I have less of it here than I ever have in my life.

And with this decrease has come an increase in exposure to myself and my problems.

All the things I have been struggling with my whole life are coming to the surface and showing their ugly faces, hoping to catch me in a moment of weakness.

This is the part of my journey as a Peace Corps Volunteer that I wanted but did not quite expect.

Finding myself in a place very much like that in which I once was.

Tired, and struggling to stay afloat. Caring so much about what other people think and thinking too much about what it is that I need to do. What it is that I should have done. What I need to be doing. Stuck in a never-ending cycle of work, progress, and achievement. Forgetting to stop and appreciate the beauty of the moment. The novelty of everything around as it unfolds for the first time in full bloom. To be caught once and lost forever. Living in the moment and being grateful for all that you have.

To be tired and happy, but happy nonetheless.