Category Archives: togetherness

a lesson in numbers.

i have $190 in my bank account.

i have a credit card that is almost maxed out at $4,000.

i have $16,000 in cumulative student loan debt.

no savings. no house. no assets. no financial plan.

i am, by today’s standards, a non-existence.

a prime example of how to do it wrong.

because, in today’s world, you have to have stuff, and you have to get it the right way. and it has to be the stuff that everyone else has. or better yet, the stuff that no one else has.

i’ve been bogged down in stuff: i am reminded everyday of the tv i don’t have, or the family i don’t have, or the house i need or the car i should be driving, or the job i should strive for relative to my age.

but the truth is, all of those things can come and go; they can be taken away. money can be spent, houses and jobs can be lost, families can leave.

and the fact that i can’t keep up sometimes makes me jealous and angry and sad. mainly because i am human, surrounded by a human world propagated by human emotions and desires.

it all sounds very complex.

when it’s actually quite simple.

striving for these things doesn’t make us less admirable or less deserving. it’s only when we allow the stuff to control our happiness that we’ve made a wrong turn. when we wake up in the morning and our first thought is of something that may or may not be here tomorrow, we’ve lost the magnificence of life.

this morning, i had plans for my day. and those plans made me happy. they made me pop up out of bed, eager to start the day. and, as quick as it came, my mood spiraled when i was made to feel inadequate about my choices and my current financial position.

and then i cursed my own sensitivities. why was i letting this affect me?

i had no answer.

other than my mind started off on the wrong foot.

i set my focus on the wrong things.

i made a mistake in thought.

because, in the vastness that is life, my bank account is not representative of me.

i am not $190.

or $4,000 in credit card debt.

or $16,000 in student loans.

i am not houseless, spouseless, stuffless.

i am hope and passion and gratefulness and love.

and knowing that i am not alone in that truth is the focus i need.

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love and its multi-faceted ways.

i told you i’d be honest.

and, the honest thing is, i contemplate love a lot.

real love… what is that anyway?

when we’re infants, necessity is love.

when we’re toddlers, need is love.

when we’re children, things are love.

and some people never outgrow this phase; to some people, things will always be love.

for those who do mature past this stage, physicality becomes love.

i’m not just talking about sex. (although that’s certainly a part of it.)

i’m talking about presence. presence becomes love.

parents want their children to be present.

friends want their friends beside them.

lovers want their lovers near.

close. alongside. nearby. proximal.

it’s the love vicinity.

as long as we are inside it, we have peace.

except, it’s not real peace. and it’s not real love.

because, it seems to me, real love stretches over space. it cannot be defined or confined by parameters or by any other uncertain thing.

and real love can only be found inside of us, where our true Self, our soul, exists despite emotion, without attachment, regardless of expectation.

it’s the place within us that recognizes that we are never alone and never in danger. the place that allows us to breathe, exhale, let go.

the place where we can give ourselves freely without fear of disappointment, embarrassment or failure —where we can walk amongst others and feel a kinship, a connection.

this place is not something to attain, and it’s not a physical journey we make: we are always there.

in the moment we make this peace with ourselves, we become the love we seek.

then, and only then, can we step outside the vicinity and realize we are never outside the vicinity.

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in memoriam: a dream.

once upon a great while, a silver cloud crosses a great mountain overlooking the sea above a city surrounding a town. the city and town are darkened – a shadow is cast over all life. and the sounds are only silent.

as the cloud forms from magic, its atoms pitch and roll inside its sphere and crash into each other until electricity explodes from its billowy shell. and it tumbles across the sky with new-found purpose.

the earth trembles at the force of the magical cloud. the mountain can feel the inevitable approach, but the souls in the city, in the town, below have never seen or heard such creation and cannot even begin to think of the wonder being produced above their heads. and their lives move forward — untouched, uninspired.

the cloud continues on its path toward its destination: the mountaintop before it. they seek each other as if magnetized. their impending fate powers ever-forward, the crashing and booming becomes louder and pulls the air into a swirling chaotic wind. the townspeople remain melancholy as the wind whips their hair, their clothes, their possessions, into a frenzy – into a masterpiece of life.

all eyes and mouths sag tirelessly. their focus: the ground.

and then, announced yet unannounced, the silky, billowy layers of the cloud begin to collide with the great mountain and it rips slowly; the atoms inside frantically awaiting the moment they are unleashed. the crashes become louder, consuming all thought and, as the mountain quakes with joy, lightning pours from the cloud. the light reaches beyond the realm of sight. and, as quickly as it comes, the sound dissipates. the cloud becomes empty and soft – and sweet rain descends to the earth.

all at once, the barren soils of the town, of the city, bloom into a lush forest. life resumes, but its pace is slower, more thoughtful. light replaces darkness. mouths curve into peaceful smiles. eyes greet eyes. hands touch hands. there is music. and hope.

the mountain and the cloud and the townspeople remain unchanged yet forever changed.

hearts beat stronger, voices lift spirits, all eyes look upward. their focus: the sky.

once upon a great, great while, there is love…

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in the company of things.

free your mind. let desire, resentment and darkness go.
just let them go.  ~hanmaum seonwon

sometimes everything feels so haphazard.

but maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be — this life.

if it were perfect, it would be real and lasting, it would be divine, it would be transcendent.

and life is just not those things.

i’ve made my peace with that, yet i find myself lost in the paradox.

because, though it’s difficult to remember to focus my heart-truth on the divine, some days i feel it easily — as if it never left me — and it puts me at ease. i am cradled in its current.

other days, it is as though i’m clinging to the steep walls of a ghostly chasm — i cannot climb up, as i have no ounce of strength, but neither can i bear to let go and allow the unknown to envelop me.

the days i feel divinity are the days i am surrounded by primordial souls. by trees, by stars, by winds, by sun, by creatures. i feel a like-mindedness, as though we are friends on the same path, breathing in unison. there is a kindred energy as they acknowledge me, accompany me, pray with and for me.

in this space, i am accepted, and i am loved.

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cinnamon and slugs and synapses.

there’s this moment from many years back that my sister and i share.

something to do with cinnamon altoids.

i don’t even remember the whole joke, but every time we say the punchline — “cinnamon altoid?” — we both laugh hysterically.

this is usually followed by a conversation in which we both explain how we tried to re-tell the moment to someone outside of the joke and received blank stares instead of laughter.

and then we both laugh again, this time at the giddiness of sharing our own private joke that no one else can have.

it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s these little moments that define my relationship with my youngest sister.

when we get together, we talk about slug foot. and jc chasez. and special spaghetti. and flying toenails. and most of the time, it’s just a single phrase that launches us into a thousand giggly hysterics.

but it’s not really the phrases that construct our sisterly association.

it is the moments just before and directly after the phrases.

when our synapses fire and emit the same memory with the same emotional trigger. our mind-gears click, rock, spin in perfect time and tenor.

she’s there. and i am there. and we get each other. and no other words are needed.

it is the relationship that i adore most. because the in-between parts become a super-charged consolation.

and even when the phrases aren’t there, she is there. her spirit hugs mine.

and i never forget my way back.

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cost of living, all expenses paid.

i pride myself on my ability to make good of just about any situation.

that’s my optimistic inclination.

but i will also be the first to admit that i haven’t always acted or behaved as i would’ve liked.

actions are funny that way. they are impulsive, ingrained, uninhibited.

for instance, there are times i’ve talked badly about other people when they aren’t around to defend themselves.

sometimes i lie to get out of doing something that i made a promise to do, simply because i don’t want to seem flaky.

and, instead of telling my first husband that i didn’t believe our marriage was right, i sought out comfort and happiness in another person.

these are my actions.

and there are so many more that i am equally perplexed by.

i can’t tell you why i’ve acted in these ways, except maybe my brain, my heart, was trying to teach me something about life.

and i’ve had my share of actions done toward me. but i am working on forgiveness.

i forgive my high school boyfriend for cheating on me.

i forgive my father for not knowing how to be a part of my life.

i forgive my mother for expecting me to be her version of perfect.

and i forgive myself.

that’s the most important part, you see.

because if we defined our Selves solely by what we’ve done, none of us would be worth a goddamn thing.

but our actions do not define us. they are simply the ways in which we’ve tried to cope, to the best of our ability, with this crazy world. they are our cost of living, a toll we choose to pay.

i am more than my actions. we all are.

because, along with acting, we have the capacity to react.

REact.

to act again. to get it right. to make amends. to forgive. to live. to love.

i strive toward reaction.

to be gentle with myself.

to know that i am an equal partner of this universe. [despite who i am, where i’m going, what i do.]

and so are you.

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p.s. do i know you?

in an effort to make an extremely long story extremely short (as best as the complexities of familial bonds will allow): i have never had a great relationship with my biological father.

i’ve never even had a decent relationship with him.

or any kind of relationship.

as a matter of fact, when i was in 4th grade (right before he and my mom divorced), i asked him to sign a contract that stated he would no longer be my dad. he declined to sign. it didn’t matter to me that a used envelope covered in crayon wasn’t admissible in a court of law; i just wanted him to acknowledge my disapproval of his parenting.

see where i’m going with this?

with the exception of a few holidays and one agonizing summer, my sisters and i never really saw my dad during our childhood. he has always lived out of state and schedules, work, school, yada-yada… there was always an excuse on either end.

the summer after my senior year of high school, i finally got up the nerve to write him a very detailed, castigating letter in which i spewed forth years of irritations, disappointments and frustrations. i think the grand total was five pages, front and back. something like that.

weeks went by before i got a response.

and then, a letter.

he was sorry that my boyfriend broke my heart, but that it was probably for the best; he knew it took a lot of courage to write what i wrote; he understood why i felt this way, but…

but.

he wasn’t the only one who failed at our relationship.

with that, i tucked the letter in the back of a book. every once in a while, i would unearth it with the hope that time would expose some sort of underlying truth or grand revelation.

the last time i read it was about four months ago, when i was packing up my books to make the trek from marriage to single adulthood for the second time in my life.

and, as i sat in the floor of my soon-to-be former house and my soon-to-be former life, i realized why the letter never gave me any peace.

why couldn’t i move on from this? why couldn’t i chock it up to a series of missed opportunities and coulda-shouldas?

because staring back at me from those pages was someone just like me.

the string of failed relationships, the stubborn independence, the reckless disregard of consequences, the wanderlust.

that is my dad in a nutshell.

or, rather, that is me.

i spent so much time chastising the person he is, that i never realized how much alike we are. how the road i have traveled has had many of the same hills and valleys as the one he chose.

and, i tell ya, there has never been a more painful or irrefutable epiphany than that one right there.

if only i knew what to do with it.

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