Love without clinging Part III- Bliss

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I take to the internet, asking a group of digital nomads the eternal question-

Should I stay or should I go now?

Stay, and build, and get citizenship maybe. Go, on a new adventure, hoping that somewhere else is better, and maybe a bit better paying.

The answer was overwhelming “STAY”

A kind soul took the time to message me directly- “It’s not about France, it’s about you. What do you really want to do? Write that memoir. In the time it takes to get citizenship you can have sold the book and be planning book tours.”

And i can get to be a hotshot in content marketing and social media and enhance my professional reputation and pay off date and get that passport that will let me come back to France, always. Because I still love it and always will- even if at some point, I let go.

I talked to my good friend, who has also read the Alchemist a thousand times.

“Right now you’re the shiney shop guy who wants to go to Mecca, because you are comfortable and it might be good or bad”

So what is my Mecca- everywhere and nowhere, the road.

Space without center or limit.

Freedom.

Living out of a suitcase.

Being able to experience the world in all its diversity and beauty, and owning next to nothing.

At least for a time. To go, and support myself as I go, to have roots in the earth itself-

after having spent my youth in France incha allah.

 

As for the man and the  baby? If they come to me, when I am my full, lovely, enchantress, free spirit, arms wide open, travelling fool aspiring surfer girl and mountain mama self, why not?

If someone can take me with my philosophy, with my Buddhism, with my extraversion, with my sensuality and all my fire, YES.

But I am done trying to fit into a box- whether it be for a man or money or motherhood.

I am not an earth creature. I come from the fire, I fly in the sky. The earth is my friend, not my property. I flow like the ocean, in big waves, and sometimes in alpine lakes tucked high in the clouds.

I write and I speak and I tell my tales.

So I realized I’ve been to forty countries, and I hadn’t even realized it at the time.

“Your blog is about seeking and finding,” said my wise friend, my guardian angel.

I would rather have forty countries than forty blocks of gold. I want to be rich, yes, rich in experience and luxury and full of abundance and true prosperity.

YES money, but so much else.

So maybe I don’t want a cat and or a baby in such desperation as I thought before, even if I think babies are cute.

And as for a lover, I’m ready, but I’m not waiting for anyone.

I’m not a nun or a monk or anything like that, but I am vowed to the sky quand meme.

I am radiance, come what may, and that’s more important than trying to snare a man or rushing to be on time for a baby.

If they are mine, they will come.

And maybe I won’t be in the mood to roam forever.

Nothing is forever, all compounded things are impermanent.

And I am a Buddhist, whether I have taken refuge in the Buddha or not.

I have taken refuge in the sweet sad impermanence of the beauty, ugly, and ever changing world. I take refuge in the path, that never leads exactly where we think. I have taken refuge in joy and wonder and most of all, surprise.

I have taken refuge not in a country, but in liberte, egalite, fraternite

Joyeux fete de la Bastille

May we storm the prisons of our minds and gain victory every day.

 

Namaste

MJ

 

 

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Love without clinging Part II- The letting go part

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Besides crying in the office bathroom during this exchange of messages, I have a really low moment.

Why am I in France? What’s the purpose of being here? Why stay until I’m eligible for citizenship? Do I need or want it anyway? Why am I in business if my heart is in travel?

Why can’t I meet anyone? Will I ever have a baby?

Does life end after 30 (I’m 28)? Does life end after having a baby?

Is life just a race to do everything you want to do in life before someone else owns you?

Is marriage and motherhood just a chemical joke made of oxytocin and dopamine?

What if i’s not all it’s cracked up to me? Vaginal tears, fistulas, bruised vaginas, deformed breasts, never again being truly free because your life is tied to a little person for good and for all? And you become a motherly coward who forbids your child to take a single risk that you did?

What if love is not so loving after all? What if the price of love is to be tamed, and all that’s given me joy in life is my wildness?

What if he pulls this shit ten years down the road? What if there’s no one out there for me?

What if the love I’m seeking doesn’t actually exist?

 

Why do I work in this job I don’t love? Why don’t I do something that makes more money even if I have less vacation time? What is wrong with me for not having any ambitions?

What if I always feel disappointed when my dreams come true, like I did when I got work in Paris but was still depressed for another three years?

What if the French are not all they are cracked up to be, and travel is just an escape and I’m a coward who can’t face the world, who can’t face my laundry basket, who prefers to live out of a suitcase because I don’t have the courage to face the challenges of having roots?

What if I’m the kind of person that doesn’t really need them, at least not the way other people do?

What if I will never be happy settled?

What if the problem is not France, not my job, not my single status, but me?

What if I’m too wild, too free, too kind, too giving, too crazy, too sweet, too sensual, too smart, too sexy, too brave?

What if that fantasy back in the day about having a blog and traveling the world was more than just a fantasy, and worse, what if when it came true, it actually didn’t s make me happy since I’d still be stuck with my sorry old self?

Or what if it actually did?

 

Love without clinging Part I- Meeting a stable guy who wants to settle down

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I made plans with friends from work to go to the Fete de la Musique in Paris on 21 June, a special day for me since it’s also the birthday of a family member.

I hopped in the subway with one of the work friends, who had invited someone to come out with us that I hadn’t met. “Do you like him?” I asked my friend, who had recently gone through a breakup.

“No, not at all, he’s just a friend.”

We started drinking beer on a terrace during the very hot day, and then the friend showed up. He looked to be in his early thirties, and cute, but when he started smoking that killed a bit of the attraction, being that he was North American on top of it, so it’s not quite the same as a European smoking.

We talked a lot about the French real estate market, and how now was the time to buy. “I’ll help you figure it so you can buy something,” he told me. “It’s ok if you spend half your income and stop going out as much, it is a great investment. And you’ll feel differently about traveling so much, home ownership really changes you.”

I made a joke about wanting a rich husband instead, and he said something like, “Well I’m not rich yet but my parents are.” He had also made a pretty penny from selling his house before moving to France.

We talked about France, and when we switched to wine I refused to pour for myself, because French custom is for women to be served. He started serving me.

Next thing I knew, we had gone to a much crazier area where people were packed in dancing like sardines in the gay district. “These guys must be gay if they are not hitting on you,” he said to me, “and I would be really jealous if they did.”

Mere hours later, we were kissing on the Place du Trocadero as the sun came up, and he was telling me how he is ready to have a family (read baby)  in the next two years, and how he has had his eye on me in the corridor at work (I never noticed him, but then I kind of have my head in the clouds a bit, wouldn’t you believe it) for months and has been waiting for the opportunity to talk to me. I am his dreamgirl, and he can’t believe his luck. He wants to see me for lunch, take me out for dinner, and puts me in an Uber to go home.

But he is worried that our mutual friend is jealous and doesn’t want to hurt her feelings. “We’ll have to find her someone before coming out,” he says, and he wants to take it slowly, and not do anything physical, because he is really serious and wants to get to know me. Although he does mention- “My apartment is just there, maybe you’ll come live with me iin a few months.”

He texts me around noon “Wow that was amazing”

Radio silence over the weekend- he is meant to be elsewhere in France looking at real estate but in the end he doesn’t go. I get up my courage and ask him how’s he’s doing, an dhe explains he just rested up after the long night on Wednesday/Thursday (he’s not much older than 30 by the way).

We meet up during the week, before he has to go to a house showing and before I’m meant to go to the gym. He explains he wants to take it slow and start as friedns, that he is wary of the fact that we work in the same company in the same building, and and that he just got out of a relationship three months ago with someone he met at work and it was hell once the coworkers found out. The conversation started out cold and then towards the end he could barely stop himself from kissing me despite his imposed just friends rule. He told me about all the times in the past few days he saw me around but restrained himself from saying hi because he wanted to have this talk first, and he told me how pretty my dress was the day before.

I was too late to make my gym class, and messaged him, but he was already gone to look at the house.

Then I invited him to a picnic with my friends later in the week, at the last moment so he wouldn’t feel pressured- he had plans with friends but would go if things didnt work out- as it turns out it was rained out anyway, and then wished him a good weekend to no response.

About a week goes by and no contact is initiated. Is this what he means by taking it slow?

I saw him around the office complex, made a point of saying hello to him when I pass by his desk, and outside the building. I pass him in the convenience store and he waves and smiles but doesn’t take a few minutes to talk.

I’ve had enough, and feel like something is not right. I wonder if my friend, who has actually acted quite jealous and claims we both disrespected her by wanting to date because it will put her in the middle, and the fact that it was spontaneous and he didn’t ask me for a date at another time, and claiming it’s that she feels uncomfortabel because of work though she herself has many of her close friends coming from work and has dated guys from work and parties with her team at festivals, it seems a little disingenous. Needless to say, I am disappointed my friend can’t be happy for my seeming good fortune.

So I message him that I am no longer interested in anything friendly or romantic besides basic politeness, he agrees that he feels the same and thanks me for clearing up. He starts asking me how work is going, I explain (in tears) that I don’t want to talk to him really and he has really disappointed me and hurt my feelings by talking such a big game and not following through, and that I deserve more than to be ghosted essentially. He agrees, apologizes, tells me there’s something I don’t know that he dared not say because it would only disappoint me more, asks if I want to cut ties (I already have,  I defriended him on Facebook) but that there’s no need for awkwardness in person. He apologizes, and the conversation just seems to go on and on. I check back a few days later, thinking maybe at the least he could let me know if something opens up in his department, as crazy as that sounds, and I can no longer message him and conclude he must have blocked me.

As for my jealous friend, I am sincerely disappointed because I thought of the person who would come pick me up in the middle of the night if I ever needed it. And I realize that, consciously or subconsciously, she has done just the same as my family in exerting some pressur eto follow her path, of being single and childless and with a big apartment and fancy job, and maybe she’s not so happy with it, and maybe she doesn’t want to end up single alone, or doesn’t want me to find my person first. She is a bit older than me and I”m sure it wouldn’t be the first time a girlfirned’s priorities changed once she found a man. And she skinny shames me for ordering a salad when she wants to get a dessert and threatens to change her order, so I get a hot dog instead.

Conclusion- time to move on….

And if you coldn’t tell in the beginning what was I even thinking of doing with this guy? He’s not like me, and he’s a bit boring and odd. But I thought,a fter 8 months of celibacy and meeting him on the summer solstice, that my ship had finally come in.

Needless to say in my frustration, the celibacy streak was broken since we were just friends and he wasn’t doing anything to make me fall in love with him…

I’m Rich

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In the past week I’ve had two conversations with North American women of my age who make a lot more money than I do. One of them had also traveled more, and that made me feel a little sad. Until I realized helicopter tours of Victoria Falls are not the reason I travel anyway, and the idea of sharing a tour around the most touristic sites in Bulgaria, a pretty chill country where English is widely spoken, didn’t seem that exciting much as it would efficiently enable me to check the boxes off.

They both expressed some kind of concern, and maybe even pity for him, though at least with one, I’m sure a sense of competition led her to emphasize her financial accomplishments to get a sense of satisfaction from being better.

In the same week, the universe has seen to it that I didn’t book my planned trip to South America, and instead I’m going to India again (by way of Kazakhstan so as to avoid needing a Russian transit visa or paying a mint through another airline- pls I wanted to see Kazakhstan, because I enjoy comparing post communist places and I’m interested in Central Asia and the Silk Road).

The truth is that I had gotten into my mind I wanted to travel to all 6 (or 7 if possible) continents before turning 30, which would indeed be a wonderful thing. But now I recognize it as just another accomplishment I was aiming towards to justify my life, and also driven by the fear that once I find marital love and hopefully also have a family, my life will be over, I will have no more freedom, and my life is a race against my biological clock.

But a three day weekend in Bulgaria showed me what I needed to know- that I’ll go where the wind takes me, and that’s that. That is what I am most happy with. I had some ideas in mind for what I wanted to do, I packed my hiking boots and wanted to see beautiful nature, but in reality due to weather forecasts of rain (which were not true) and warnings about bad visibility and mud on the mountains, I didn’t actually get out of the cities at all, and the one city I travelled two hours to get to I only saw for 30 minutes or so as I met a lovely fellow traveller and kindred spirit and spent the day talking to him and having lunch instead. And what a wonderful trip it was! It reminded me why I travel- for atmosphere more than for sightseeing, and that rarely is there a specific thing which seeing it gives great satisfaction. Sometimes yes, but only when the desire is somewhere deep in our imaginations or souls and from a guidebook or travel blog.

I travel so I can learn how to live.

I actually realize this is one of the first times I’ve ever written about travel on this blog, which maybe is a sign I’m ready to write about travel, which I’ve been wanting to for years but feeling blocked. Yes, I want to do it to get some things sponsored perhaps and build a readership and get money but also to be of benefit, and I was a bit blocked. but maybe not so much now! Hahaha I love this blog, and I love you for reading it.

So anyway, my point is that if anything i pity the North American girls who see their value as a reflection of their career and bank account more so than what’s inside, even if they value me for my character and experiences or claim to. I could be reading it completely wrong, but just recently instead of thinking I’m the pits and that people who bring me down are right to do so, I’ve realized that sometimes people are genuinely jealous of my life, and I guess that’s the best compliment there is in a way.

Although a bigger one woudl be if someone changes their life in order to like it better thanks to my inspiration and empowerment.

I feel compassion for them because they seem so stuck and rigid in their habitual ways of thinking, and caught in black and white. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will know how much I suffered from this until very recently, and it really wasn’t pretty or fun at all. it’s only recently I’ve learned to let go of expectations and take happiness where I find it.

And yes, I do intend to manage money better and manifest money better, but I realize finally that the fact that I for example, didn’t follow my taxes on time in a silly oversight doesn’t make a bad person or constitutionally irresponsible. It just means I messed up, and if I have a habit of messing up, it’s just because I haven’t found the right system.

But what I can say is that I have absolutely no regrets about the times in my life I followed my heart and made it work even if things were a little tough. In those moments, I chose my own adventure, took my life in my hands, and exercised my radical freedom. I might have more money or be more comfortable if I didn’t do those things, or I might be stark raving mad and depressed and more self destructive than I already was for the relatively reasonable compromises I made. i would hate for my life to be a tightrope walk of needing to always perform well and follow the rules in order to be happy or value myself. That is no fun at all. That said, money and skills and some amount of rule following can bring freedom, and that’s important to. It’s important to play the game well, but not let the game play you.

Live to love your life, not to work or earn or play in the sense of pursuing only shallow pleasures. Play in a larger sense of everything in your life being on the board. Enjoy the ups and downs, play to win but let it be fun, realize it’s only a game. Don’t take things too seriously, and my hunch is you’ll find that things start to go your way more often.

So in other words, I’m rich, and we’re all in the process of winning.

Hunger

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I have grown fat with hungers denied

Hungers hidden

Hunger buried under shame.

 

Nothing could sate me

When I did what I was told

I was

Consumed,

always scared and hungry.

 

To fit the mold,

I took on layers of cushion

so my heart couldn’t be seen,

so I could hide the truth from my eyes,

like my feet.

 

I didn’t know I was pregnant

Like a Venus of Willendorf,

Round round full

Beautiful, profane

Primal,

Complete.

 

I didn’t know the life-giving power of my hunger.

I didn’t know it was a volcano scattering earth

In the directions of the four winds

Fertilizing the earth.

 

They stopped me up

Put a cork in all my holes

So the life couldn’t get out.

So I couldn’t breathe.

 

And now, after years of pressure building,

I shake the earth,

It tears in two–

I slough off my extra flesh

Like a sculptor chisels his marble block.

 

Life emerges

All me, a perfect virgin birth

Of the most wanton whore

Like the dragons of Indonesia,

I didn’t need a mate to spawn.

 

I am the beast, and the princess.

No longer a captive, no longer a slave

Not a tormentor, not a victim

I shed my fate like a serpent shedding his skin

Embracing my destiny.

 

They never told me I could fly

A dragon, a garuda.

 

They never told me I’d be beautiful-

A Botticelli, a Venus de Milo.

 

I am so pure

A spring, a flame.

 

I couldn’t express my hunger

I couldn’t even feel it

I couldn’t give it a name,

A young girl who discovers her bleeding.

 

But finally my hunger ate what was me

A black widow devouring her mate,

Nature consuming society

Freedom breaking the iron bars of fear.

 

And now I am something that has never existed before-

A garuda, a sphinx

A virgin taming the unicorn, his horn in her lap.

 

I stopped being good, I stopped being evil.

I started being,

and it was good-

a snake eating her tail.

 

The hunger I denied

An avalanche of me building up for years

Crushing all its its wake-

Emptiness that became somethingness

A soul eaten to emptiness called into rebirth.

 

And now the fire across the sky

The dragon devours the heavens

The maiden fearless beside him.

 

Only a question remains-

Who am I today?

 

 

 

 

The life I really want for myself

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The truth is I do really want to be thinner. And not only for health reasons. I do want to have the “cool” body that fits in with the people around me and what I see on TV and even if I will still be technically plus sized since I don’t think I’ll ever be smaller than a size 8, at least a bit less so. I don’t want to lose all my curves, but there is some surplus I would like to be rid of, for good. I don’t hate myself now, and I know my body is beautiful, but i personally think I would look and probably feel better if I released a few pounds.

I have been loathe to admit it since so much of my energy over the course of my life has been dedicated to the battle of the bulge, and the only time I was the weight I would like to be effortlessly well I didn’t make any conscious effort. That being said, I was in a different environment with little money for junk food or eating out and walked two hours a day and had little day to day stress in my life besides existential ennui and most of my diet was eggs salad pasta in at home portion sizes and some yogurt and chocolate and eating out twice a week- getting a sandwich or wrap usually nothing more elaborate.

Sometimes I miss my simpler life, bu tI was also quite bored.

The other thing which I might as well get out while I am admitting stuff is that I would like to be financially stable and do something else,s omething a little more aligned with my heart. I do like being a manager and the feeling of being a bonne eleve and a leader, but deep in my heart I know I don’t want to do it forever. I do like the relative prosperity it brings me. What I’m doing now was never a deep dream, though I am pretty happy and extremely grateful on the whole.

My soul dreams of doing something else, of being an adventurer, a travel writer, a writer tout court, and that this might be the truest part of me once I will have played the roles of teacher and manager, maybe real leadership will come through the word- not to denigrate what I am doing now. The truth is that I don’t want to be doing what I’m doing twenty years from now, maybe not even five or ten years from now if I can get financially prosperous enough to make it work. And I truly hope I will.

The thing is these are not new revelations. I’ve written about them a thousand times on this blog, then buried them under layers of guilt and shame and distraction and procrastination and thinking I’m not allowed to want what I want from life and my desires aren’t wise.

Yesterday I went to a friend of a friend’s house for dinner and it was magnificent. If I were ever to own a place, I hope it would be like that. Not because it was perfect and bourgeois and everything in its place, but because the living area was a gallery for all kinds of art and knick knacks the owner bought here and there throughout the years, and he used his house to store art, which I think is a worthy use indeed. But when I asked him where he got the Kuan Yin statue and if everything was from his travels, he explained a lot came from auctions and he hadn’t travelled enough to accumulate those things on his own.

That being said, it would be great if, some day, I had a lovely space of my own and money and wherewithal to travel, but for the moment I don’t think I want to invest my energy into that. Because to renovate an old house and bring out its soul the way he did demands a lot of time that I would rather be on the road!

And it’s ok that I want to be out there in the world, there is nothing wrong with that. It’s not an escape, it’s just seeing life in different ways. Even if in the immediate future I don’t have plans to stop everything and just travel for months and months, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking trips and working even if it doesn’t leave as much room for spontaneity on the road. It does help ensure variety though.

And my life in Paris is getting more spontaneous. New circles are opening up to me. I have found some really cool people recently.

The Buddhist center is another really cool and unexpected piece of my new life. I didn’t think I would ever become a practicing Buddhist, but that seems to be what’s happening, slowly but surely.

Things are changing and quickly. It’s completely possible that within a few years, by the time I get French citizenship, I could be financially free and clear to travel the world and do something else. Perhaps not completely without debt, but in a position to take a sabbatical and or start a new career or even go back to school.

I can’t believe I’m only a year and a half from turning 30. I thought I would have all the answers by now and be well on my way to a predictable upper middle class life- hence why I got the MBA- that I would have the boyfriend, probably also the ring, and I owould be hitting those life milestones at the expected age and hitting the ball out of the park in all aspects of my life.  And there was the not so distant time I felt I should strive not for the extraordinary but for the everyday and be content with being above average and normal.

I have fire in my belly now to change my life, and this time, I think I have the wisdom not to let it burn me. And in any case, it’s time to allow the buds to blossom.

 

Namaste

MJ

Draping nude on the page

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Back in high school I used to write poetry and publish it on message boards.

I haven’t written a lot of poetry since, but one of the comments I received has stayed with me, “you aren’t afraid to drape nude on the page,” and I think this blog is living proof of that.

That’s also been a big part of how I’ve lived my life, and my turn to Buddhism is a big part of that.

I don’t think I’ve ever done something that felt more subversive than doing a vajrayana meditation practice alone in my hotel room one night. I felt like the Buddha slipping out on his wife and child, and far far from my family and home and the way I was raised.

And yet, every sound is a mantra, every being is a Buddha, and we are all on the same path.

So that’s been a big part of what’s been going on with me.

I’ve also had ups and downs of feeling like, o, i did the right thnig getting on the management track, and actually I should travel less and focus on building a home more.

But now, I am back to writing and travel, though both in balance with home and my current job. And there’s nothing wrong with either.

I’ve been put to work training/mentoring a colleague who is also a close friend and incredibly emotionally mature, but not always professionally so. It’s been a challenge emotionally to keep myself under control and remain kind and patient. I dedicated my last meditation to her, that I would do the best job for her.

I’ve accepted I am on the path, and I always was, come what may. And that’s ok wherever it goes, even if i don’t hit those milestones as expected, even if I don’t get everything I was pretty sure I wanted out of life. It’s even okay that I was dpressed, gained weight, spent too much money and let things get completely out of control. That too was part of the path. And I can have compassion and forige myself and just keep moving forward.

It is such joy not to be depressed anymore. It may be afternoon ad I’m still not up and dressed as I was before when depressed, but ti’s not because I have no energy. Right now I am just recharging, and I have faith in myself  to get things done. Even if everythign is not perfect with a snap of my fingers, even if everything never will be perfect, it’s all good, and I’m growing. It feels like my car has finally stopped hydroplaning, and my tires have grip and I’m moving forward instead of stuck in slush, or quicksand.

 

Love you all and Namaste,

MJ

For my handsome stranger/ beau etranger

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I never imagined a future with you–

not even breakfast.

I thought I loved someone else, far away,

a daydream I thought was real.

 

 

I pushed you away as I drew you to me,

Telling myself it was just lust and your kindness.

I never imagined four years later it would be you, that

I’d shed

pure, clear tears

of sorrow.

 

I always thought love was knowing

And beautiful dreams, and a perfect match.

 

I never thought you would conquer me,

I never imagined our future.

 

I remember when we parted

The same pure tears

A crystal stream,

A clean wound

No disappointment, only sadness.

 

Maybe it was love because it was only for a moment

No expectations.

But I pushed you away as I clung to you in passion,

Afraid to love you too deeply,

to feel.

 

When finally we met again, I really loved you-

seeing you for the first time.

I would have followed you anywhere

I knew you were worthy.

 

I thought perhaps, your heart doesn’t really belong to her.

Your eyes are still the same when you look at me.

 

And maybe they will always have that same luster,

but you’re not mine.

 

The love I never looked for,

The one I couldn’t get back.

A clear, pure light.

 

 

I miss you, friend.

 

 

 

 

 

A place of deep contentment

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This long weekend, I had planned for an extended trip to Macedonia and Greece that quite simply just didn’t work out despite all my efforts.  What’s more, I had no plans on how I’d spend the Easter holiday.

Well, as it turned out I needn’t have worried. The magic of Paris intervened, and I had a wonderful adventure of a weekend filled with new friends and old, and most importantly, I found that I don’t have to move to be happy.

France is still something very special, after all this time. And in parallel, as I’ve spent more and more time with people who really appreciate me, I realize I am a work of art no less perfect and lovable in my imperfection.

The past few years have been a time of intense searching, and a fair amount of suffering. My life wasn’t so bad, and yet I wasn’t sure if something was wrong with me, if it was ok to be happy, if I was in the right place.

This weekend, the answer has come loud and clear- the still small voice still loves that I am here.

And even more importantly, loves me.

I found what I was looking for, thanks to a series of seemingly unfortunate events. Maybe now I don’t need the universe to go to such lengths to impress that lesson on me.

A weekend in Paris is still priceless and beyond compare.

And I know, deep in my soul, I am in the right place at the right time, and full of profound, enduring joy.

The other side of sorrow

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For the past few days I have been feeling blue, but overall moving forward. I am not the person I thought I would be. I distanced myself from someone I considered a friend although I never fully trusted her. I have felt the pain of loneliness keenly, and the ever present shame of my realized fear of not being the person my parents wanted me to be, especially in regards to my turn towards Buddhism, which at least right now seems to be a liberating spirituality that releases my inner joy!

There is also the lingering sorrow it is hard not to beat myself up about- the fact that I wasn’t confident and mature enough to get back together with my ex when I came back to Paris and now I see him with new eyes and he’s unavailable. I know it’s not all on me, but I am still disappointed in myself, especially now that I realize he was the nicest guy I ever was involved with. If we had been together I think there are some parts of growth I wouldn’t have experienced, but right now I just want someone to hold me and I wonder how great I am be without a partner, without my basic emotional needs met.

I’ve also been moving forward in terms of the small habits that will help me take care of myself- I’ve been recording what I eat, keeping an eye on my accounts, and I did start cleaning my apartment. Though last week I only went to the gym once, I have been seeing and feeling a difference, and it scares me in a way. I am proud and happy, but it scares me.  I must believe that I deserve it, and look in the mirror and see the changed person and own that this is me.

I am a completely different person than when I was depressed.

I know this even more deeply since I have hesitated in my choice of holidays between a return to India, to see Ladakh near Western Tibet, without much of a fixed itinerary, and South AMerica, where I could see most of the highlights of Bolivia, Peru, and a bit of Chile in a whistlestop tour. I think I have found the balance though, and will leave some of the highlights for another time so I have a little more than a week completely at play, unscheduled. And since I just discovered a Tibetan restaurant within 15 minutes walk from my apartment and I already go to the Tibetan Buddhist center, perhaps there’s no need to go all that way, and I feel like I will get there eventually.

So in short, I am not the person I used to be.

Where I once sought, trying to find a home in one of the Abrahamic god’s many mansions where I spent my life feeling ashamed of my humanity, I have found a man of India who claims I am already a Buddha.

Where I once wanted to see all the treasures of the world as fast as possible for fear of missing out, I now seek depth in addition to breadth, and I know travel (and life) is about what can’t be captured in a photograph.

Where I once recoiled from life in learned helplessness, depressed and constantly at war with myself, I am slowly but surely becoming a friend and taking care of myself no longer feels as strange.

Where I once wanted to be normal and to fit in, especially with my family, I am haltingly coming to a place where I feel complete and good in myself. As friend told me, “You don’t need validation, you need a mirror.”

So things are going well, and I am fighting with myself less and less, becoming more and more honest, and letting many things go.

I am going to a new place I have never been before, to become a new person. I have already had to leave so many of me behind, and I know now that once a self is sloughed off like a snakeskin, it is gone forever. With its faults and its false comforts, its pleasures that will not be experienced as such again, its particular pains that have become so familiar they are almost a comfort, its familiar cage proscribing my range of motion.

 

The Panther- Rainer Maria Rilke

His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly–. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.

What is a panther when it leaves its cage? Space and joy- all conditioned things are impermanent.  Both the cage and the panther are an illusion. This next stage of Meganness is but a shadow play upon the wall.

And the light, rather than coming from the beauty of the forms, of the ideal of pantherness or of cage, comes from the truth of formlessness, of infinite potential, of the fact that all things were and are and will be and could be and are not.

I am not real, I am a dream, and I am the dreamer.

“I” is not real, “I” is a dream, the dream is one with the dreamer.

Where is the sorrow in that? That fairy stories are no more true than I make them, and I cannot force them to be.