It’s easy to clear your head while sitting on the beaches of Bali. It’s easy to set your mind to zero, to exhale positivity, when you’re in the presence of the Himalayas.
When you return to a city – to chaos, to noise pollution, to non-stop hustle and bustle – it isn’t as easy.
But being able to master your mind in the calmest of settings is a good fundamental place to start, especially for someone who never knew they were even capable of doing so before. That is where I found me: loving me, accepting me, tolerant me, patient me, liberated me, etc. But bringing that girl back home has been the challenge. Leaving an external environment of serenity and solace is where the test truly begins.
We learn to deal with the inevitability of certain forces which are outside of our control by maintaining a sense of balance in what we can control – the self. Easier said than done, right? I would say so.
Immediate Bubble: Hater Friends
I don’t think I’ve dealt with the negativity as well as I’m capable. I don’t think I’ve handled the stress well. I don’t think I’ve handled conflict with others very well. And when I say this, I’m not referring to how I have treated anyone else. Not at all. In fact, for those who I believe have done me wrong or had intentions that were off, I didn’t let them know about it. I returned their projections/denial being taken out on me with love instead, because I truly believe that is the only way to go. People come around in their own time, and usually when they feel the need to place fault on others for their own voids, what they need right then and there is simply love.
I agree with my outward actions in response, but I disagree with the internal burdens I have placed on myself. I have let it get to me, I have let it disrupt my day. Even though I have not voiced any sort of negativity towards others, I have allowed some ugly words to circulate in my brain. I’ve had some hateful, bitter thoughts. I hate that I have done that.
Instead of just smiling and taking the negative with a grain of salt, instead of moving forward with the knowledge that my soul is untouchable should I decide so, I have let these feelings fester into something ugly inside.
The Bigger Bubble: National and Global Issues
The earthquake that hit Nepal has definitely been heavy on my mind and heart in the past few days, and I find that I spend about 99% of the day thinking/worrying about it. From the immediate anxiety and worry over loved ones and frantic efforts to contact everyone via Facebook or Skype, to the horror and grief in seeing the rising death tolls and devastating images turning up on the news.
After I got into contact with most everyone I know and found out they were OK (THANK GOD), the next concern was, “Ok, what do I do?”
I wished so badly that I was still in Nepal. Being there I could really help, I told myself. But all I could do was donate, ask my friends and family to do the same. Spread word of great organizations in the area to donate to. Share information, educate my friends and family based on all the things I knew from being there for three months.
When I went to mass the Sunday following, I cried the entire time. I actually truthfully cried pretty much nonstop in those first three days. Just permanent, swollen cry face, tear-soaked t-shirt situation. At the point in mass when we all greet those around us with “Peace be with you,” my pew peers could tell that I was praying with a purpose, either by my body-shaking sobs or the fact that there were rivers running through my makeup.
Either way, one woman in particular held my hands few a few moments longer, looked in to my eyes with so much love and empathy. It’s incredible the power of human touch when we are in such a sad place. That’s what my loved ones in Nepal need, I thought. Right now!
They need me to come just so I can hold their hands in mine for a few moments, embrace them, transfer all this love I have for them, soul to soul, via the interaction of our human bodies. But friends in the affected areas informed me that it is not possible to fly in, that we would only get in the way. I know they are right, but I just have this pit in my stomach. My Nepali family has directly reached out asking for my help, and I feel absolutely helpless.
I have not spoken up about how I feel about the current situation in Baltimore, because I have been careful about it. After a lot of thought over the past few days, and even some discussions with a few friends, I have come to the conclusion that above all else: I will never, ever understand what it feels like to be a black individual. I will never know the fear of being a black man. I will never fully understand the worry of being a black woman who is in a state of nonstop concern over the lives of all the black men in her life. I am in a position of privilege, and I realize that.
I am angered and disgusted by the state of our country, the state of our society. I grieve with the black families and for the black lives that have been taken so carelessly and needlessly. Do I think that burning down Baltimore or being violent towards another human gets the point across or is necessary? My initial answer is no.
But then I keep thinking. When the media gives no attention to the peaceful protests that are occurring… When the majority of people are approaching it the right way in alignment with the nonviolent tactics MLK preaches… Has it been effective? Has it brought about any change yet? This has been ongoing for decades, for centuries. Wouldn’t you be angry? When the news only gives it a spotlight “when a CVS burns down,” as Obama expressed disappointedly in his statement. When most people are missing point. Or maybe don’t even care to see it.
I’m not saying violence ever solves the problem, and the hippy in me preaches peace through and through. I believe firmly in protest, but will personally never partake in one that turns violent. But again, I feel like I can’t really have an opinion in this situation because of my privilege. I can try to put myself in the shoes of others. And when I do, here are the questions I ask: What is going to make the change? What strategy? Because nothing has worked thus far, and people are getting angrier and angrier, as they should. It’s going to take a societal movement, a shift in overall consciousness. And sometimes I am deeply discouraged by what I see, and I lose hope that it will happen.
My health is a mess. Physical health: I talk endlessly about my acne, and I also have a crazy lip allergy that has been acting up (usually a result of stress). I am lazy, lethargic, low in energy. Emotional health: I’m moody, impatient, hormonal.
Just all of it and everything. I’ve been trying to pinpoint one cause of all of this, and the reality is, there is a shit storm of emotions surging within me at the moment. But it happens. To all of us. My advice to you, and to myself:
Keep moving forward. Keep doing all I can within my control.
I have these feelings pent up inside? I’m going to commit to meditation and yoga every day like I used to. I’m going to do what makes me happy. Run by the beach, paint some paintings, write some blog posts. Keep doing what serves me.
I’m going to go back to Nepal, if not by the end of this year, next year, and see my loved ones. I’m going to help. I’m going to continue doing what I’m doing along that path. I will raise funds (list of ranked, accredited organizations to donate to, in case you forgot!), I will spread knowledge, I will stay in contact and do whatever I can. I love those people, and I will never, EVER stop.
I’m going to read more, continue educating myself. I’m going to be an advocate for my black friends and the black community who are facing unreal injustice in our world today. I’m going to acknowledge my privilege. I’m going to listen. I’m going to shut my mouth. I’m going to support them how they need me to. I’m going to be an advocate for other minority groups, too: women, the LGBT community, etc. I’m going to do all I can to support people and empower people who deserve equality, who deserve a voice. For human beings, for animals. Above all else, I’m going to be an advocate for peace and love no matter what.
I’m going to keep loving our Earth and do everything I can to save her. I’m going to let the water run less when I brush my teeth and turn it off in between shampoos. I’m going to be more conscious of where my food comes from. I’m going to March Against Monsanto in May (join me!). I’m going to continue being the litter Nazi, and call out any and everyone who lazily throws their trash out the car window. I’m going to urge my fellow Californians to swap the lawn for drought-friendly plants (I know you love a good succulent) and mulch and rocks. Maybe I’ll grow some herbs and veggies.
I’m going to keep loving me. I’m going to keep telling myself how strong/smart/creative/capable I am in the mirror. I’m going to dance (Happy International Dance Day!). I’m going to sing at the top of my lungs in the car to 90s Mariah Carey. I’m going to laugh. I’m going to give extra hugs. I’m going to thank my body for all that it gets me through. I’m going to give it what it deserves (organic!), and find out what foods irritate it by starting my elimination diet for the next 23 days starting today (will write more on that later).
I’m going to make a very conscious effort to consume less. I’m going to be conscious about who I do buy from. I’m going to get creative, I’m going to get resourceful. I’m going to purge my closet of the things I don’t wear and donate them to Goodwill. And I’m make due with fewer pieces of clothing in my closet (why do I need ALL THIS anyway?!), and mix and match them into a million combinations and still look fucking fabulous, because I still love fashion and dressing up, and that’s OK (another post to come – let me help you do the same!).
I’m going to keep paying it forward. I’m going to keep giving any change I have to every homeless person I pass. I’m not going to question their incentives over 50 cents. I’m going to bump my $15.78 purchase to $20 at the grocery store to contribute to Autism Awareness. I’m going to give as much as I can to as many beautiful causes as I can. Because I am not without. I am blessed. And there is always room to give more.
I am going to keep moving forward with love and positivity. Because that’s all we can do, and if each and every one of us does it, it’s enough.