The Tuneless, Rhythm-less Beauty

I was walking through Portsmouth, New Hampshire the other day and found my attention captivated by some tune. It was so bad I couldn't help but look. And when I glanced over, I saw a guy pressing [what I can only assume random] keys on a keyboard and a girl to his right dancing with absolutely no rhythm. No one was watching. But I think that’s why it left a lasting impression. What a strange and beautiful life.

Give Our Parents The Freedom To Heal

Following the retreat, I’ve been on an email exchange with Master Dao Yi. We got to talking about the book “Mothers Who Can’t Love” and this brought out some deep emotion in me about parenting, about love, and about healing. This is an excerpt from our email:

I find myself intrigued by the message of healing but am simultaneously hesitant to read works that shed a negative light on mothers suffering from narcissistic personality disorder (and other disorders).  It doesn't make sense to me to protect and heal the daughters and not offer a message of love and healing to the mothers suffering in their own journeys. While better parenting is one of my number one values and priorities in life, I refuse to do so at the expense of rejecting others who are trying to heal themselves. Quick story for you...

I spent the majority of my childhood conditioning my mind to rise above (and to make sense of) the darkness within me. 13 was the height of my struggle with mental illness (OCD and paranoia amongst others), where I found myself shaking beside a night light every night. Around that time, I met my mentor who was about 40 years my senior. He shared that he had experienced paranoia in his 40's and that he understood how difficult the fight was. And for the next three years until he started his fight with cancer, he would spend a few hours every Sunday introducing me to ancient scripture and teachings, the newest scientific breakthroughs and TED talks, as well as life and career skills (he was also head of HR at a Fortune 500 company). 

For those of you who don’t know her, my mother is one incredible human being. In her early 20's, she took an important government position to save her family, helped many people through tough times All throughout my life, so many people would walk up to me and tell me how blessed I was, how my mother saved their whole family. She's got this remarkable heart and inspiring wisdom, but so much success at such an early age will sometimes have a tremendous effect on someone. She had her own battles to fight and had her share of healing to do...and I was a struggling teenager with mine. When I told my teacher I wanted to escape from it all, he told me that instead of fighting her, to consider rising above and choosing love. He told me that the only way to heal a broken ego was through love. 

And I knew then as I know even better now, with every bit of me, that my mother loves us with the entirety of her being, and that she, as any human, has battles of her own that she has to sort through. And it was only after understanding this that I began my own healing process--both so I didn't pass the burden onto my children, and so I could introduce her to the healing and love that I believed was possible for us both. I'm still working on this journey and on forgiving myself and for forgiving my mother, but I know damn well that there's nothing at all to forgive. She was the way she was because that's who she believed she needed to be, and she did so much good as a result. I am who I am because that's what I knew at the time, as a result, I put a lot of pressure on my little sister (that I'm not proud of). But we both did our best to give what we could to those around us, and we continue to learn to better love and accept each other with every day that passes. 

The message isn't to reject each other but to understand each other and to fight the darkness together. And the best way I know how to honor my teacher is through embodying and sharing his teachings and message. Anyways, thank you for listening to this story--this topic brings out a great deal of emotion in me, and it's such a release to bring it to the forefront of my attention again and remind myself of the important things in life.

Feeling blessed to share this earth alongside so many wealthy hearts and minds of our time (like my teacher and Master Dao Yi). In this day and age, we often talk about the importance of growth, and in this very moment, I'm feeling especially grateful for the encounters that expand our whole being, like meeting Master Dao Yi who took the time to respond to me amidst this conflicted soul of mine. 

Man oh man, getting back to the real world is tough. Back to real problems and desire and struggle. But it also means learning more of the kaleidoscopic things that make us all light up and light on fire. It also means falling in love, not just with humans but with life and what it means to be the entirety of who we are....and to be given the freedom to express the entirely of all that we embody. 

Favorite Moments Of Floating In The Sky

Here I am, transitioning from an invigorating Buddhist retreat and back into my soulful coffee shop moments. This experience carried a lot of new insight, especially after an incredible walk with Master Dao Yi. Walking beside him, I felt like I was floating in the sky.

After our stroll, the big word I walked away with was “radiance.” The grace that flowed out of his being and into all life. I’m eternally grateful for the profound message he seems so naturally embody and radiate.

Returning after some time, my plan is to find more of what makes me radiate and glow—to continue documenting my daily moments on my Equilibrium Journal, and to track my fulfillment, radiance, joy, connection to purpose, and energy in everything I do. My wish is that I can invite more of the things that I find the most beautiful into my life.

Some of my favorite moments of the retreat (in no particular order)

  • My walk with Master Dao Yi that felt like a combination of coming up for air and floating in the sky

  • Dancing with my sister under the moonlight and lanterns, and the feeling of “as long as she is happy, nothing else matters in this world”

  • Seeing the natural energy, joy, and freedom of children as a reminder to embrace the abundance and purity around me

  • Closing my eyes and dancing by myself in a crowd full of people—because expression and movement are some of life’s greatest luxuries

  • The car ride back with Hildy and Alex with the windows down, dancing and laughing and singing (or some variation of screaming) and feeling deeply blessed

  • Seeing my parents after the retreat and wrapping them in my arms, a soul-stirring reminder that they have given me absolutely everything I needed to be the best version of me

  • Reflecting on the retreat with Hildy and witnessing the powerful growth and new energy within her

"Trying Is The Opposite Of Hiding"

I’ve been reading a lot of Seth Godin recently. His outside-the-box thinking really appeals to me, and never ceases to offer new perspective. On page 44 of “Poke The Box,” he writes this, “I’m not sure Yoda was right when he said, ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’ Yes there is a try. Try is the opposite of hiding.” This really got me thinking about how we hide from our responsibilities and our potential everyday by brushing things off and not trying them. It’s also challenged me to become more aware of the choices I’m actually making when I decide not to try something. Is it my subconscious running from fear? What metrics am I measuring the costs-benefits by? But Yoda wasn’t wrong either (of course). We often hide behind the idea of trying. The trick here is to reevaluate your definition and interpretation of the word “trying.”

Vision For Life

To absorb the magic in every moment, to breathe in new life in every encounter, to strive each day to live my ideal day.

To live the most spectacular and epic life possible and build a life that belongs entirely to me.

To find my people, the ones with this flame burning inside them to absorb and live, those who see and feel what others miss, those who live and dream in a different dimension, those who create their own truth--and to bring them together and ignite an explosion of truth, magic, creation, love, and beauty.

Approaching my Q4 a little differently this time and putting lifestyle as my nucleus. How are you setting and aligning your goals?

Outliving Your Life

How many lives do writers live in one story?

Some people live every moment they get, some live as many lives as they can, and some don’t even realize that they have a life. I remember after my sister and I wrote our first novel together, someone asked us to summarize it in one sentence. We answered, “A pair of sisters—one destined to live out her life, and the other, to outlive her life.” How do you live your life? At the end of your life, could you be said to have lived at all? If so, when?

Thoughts inspired by Nikita Gill’s “Take This As Your Sign.”

On Femininity & Love

Inspired byNayyirah Waheed’s words, “I am relieved when I see the feminine presence in a man’s eyes. hat means he is a peace I do not need to bring to him.”

These words remind me of a silly pattern I’ve been spotting at weddings. You’ll often hear in a groom’s vows, “I love how much love she has.” As beautiful as it is (and appropriate for the occasion), so often men see women as their source of love and nurture.

For the men out there, are you looking to your partner to teach and remind you how to love yourself, to love the world, to love life? Please remember that we’re learning too, and we don’t have the answers, and we’re not responsible for your love journey. For the women out there giving every ounce of your love to your partner, it’s important to remember that the love we emit is a deep reflection of our relationship with ourselves. We can’t love someone into loving themselves. Your love journey is entirely your own, and so is theirs. Doesn’t mean you can’t share self-love, self-care, and inner beauty secrets, of course! :)

And for both parties out there, you only accept the love you’re ready for. Your partner can love you with all of his/her heart and soul, and carry all the love in the world, but you will only feel the extent to which you’re ready for.

This obviously doesn’t mean that women have more love, or are capable of more love than men are. Truth is, some of the people I know who carry the greatest capacity for love are men.

Closest Thing To Fate

Isn’t it beautiful, terrifyingly beautiful, that happiness isn’t a reminder, but an allowance? That unlike joy, the choice of happiness isn’t decided in the moment, but invited long before that. That wherever you are in life, when you’re ready, at your own pace…you make this decision, a promise to accept happiness. And how it transforms everything you see, everything you do, everything you feel, everything you are. 

Isn’t it terrifyingly beautiful that maybe our decision to invite happiness into our lives is the closest thing that exists to fate? 

Monday Morning Rise

Fill your lungs with morning air and hold the universe inside you. Breathe in the first rays of the sun and awaken the force within.

A reminder that every experience and encounter since the moment of your birth has been leading up to today, to this moment. Take a second, take it in.

A Kaleidoscopic Paradox

-A piece from one of my old diaries-


I’m what some might consider a paradox. This voracious ambition of mine seems to be matched only by a wild spirit. And while my mind constantly pushes for structure and progress, my heart reaches for freedom and adventure. I feel my soul begging to hold more and more as my spirit pleas to detach and release. So I live my life in short stories.

A friend once described my mind as a sponge—in a constant state of sensory overload, he said. I’m an empath by nature, and I feel everything: the speed of blood flowing through my veins, the tickle of leaves against its bark, the taste of agony or bliss within a tear. I perpetually feel the clash between this raging hunger to create and invent, and the unquenchable thirst to experience every last bit of life. Above all, I feel potential and I feel purpose.

My partner and I celebrated our two year anniversary yesterday, and in his card, he urged me to explore the world (knowing wholeheartedly that it could place distance between us). He described me as an earth shaker, telling me that I had purpose flowing out of my eyes balls. This man urged me to fly and soar, to never stop fighting for the magic I believe in—to travel the world and live as many lives as I could, write as many short stories as I could, and one day, inspire others and share my philosophy.


Ever since my very first moment of consciousness, I’ve felt that I was meant to live an extraordinary life. There was this mighty force within me telling me that I was to do something grand in the years that I walked this earth and breathed this air. This sense of magic is at the very core of my being, holding together everything I encompass. But my whole life, I’ve struggled to balance this unwavering ambition with that wild spirit from within. When every bone in my body was ready to fight to its death, a little voice in my head urged me to release all desires and lose myself in the dancing patterns of the wind.

Within the seemingly paradoxical forces, I finally found a common link: purpose. This is precisely what my partner led me to realize yesterday. (If you’re reading this and ever wonder what’s keeping this free spirit of mine so close to you, I hope this will help to explain it. I’m not chasing after things because they’re different. I’m chasing after Beauty. Expansion. Magic. Creation. I want the raw and the true, and you bring me closer to that. The meaning I live for, I find within you).

And my purpose is to approach life like a kaleidoscope. My favorite kinds of people are the people who carry a spark of magic within them—you see it in their eyes, in the way they walk and smile, and you see it in the way they live their lives. Perhaps the first thing I can do is show someone that it’s okay to live our lives this way. It’s okay to open the curtains every morning and breathe in the sun. It’s okay kick ass and let our vibrant rays explode into the air around us. It’s okay to create our own paths in life to reflect the kaleidoscopes that we are. In fact, it’s magnificent!


A little background is that I’m at a time in my life where everything around me is accelerating. Something incredible is about to happen, and I know it. Every day, I feel that much closer to my purpose. All this momentum. All this potential. I can hardly breathe on most days.

So what does it mean to live your life in short stories? Well, think of individual chapters in your life, only they’re each their own unique story. Different settings, different characters, different narrator, different author. Stop living your life by the chapter. Stop following a timeline of what you need to accomplish at a specific age. Jump around. Live the life of a 38-year-old businessman today, and then that of a 6-year-old prodigy in a few months. Defy the laws of time because why not? In the end of your 100 years (or 50 or 25), who’s going to care?

I’ve pursued my dreams and fantasies one at a time, lived different lives and become different versions of myself in the process. And I’m sure as hell not the only one. People like us, we go through life losing ourselves and finding ourselves again. We speak in metaphors because facts are subject to a limited life. We live our lives as verbs, not nouns. Sometimes we feel like we grow more in a month than most do in a year.

Think of your life. Are you living your life in chapters or short stories? Are you writing an epic poem or a research paper? And if you were to divide your life into separate chapters or stories, would you define them by traditional life milestones? Childhood, elementary school, college…etc. If you are, how long do you have to wait until the next chapter (because you wouldn’t be in control of time). Do you have titles that draw you in? Would you read your own story?

I don’t mean to glorify this kind of life, because it has its ups and downs. And more importantly, it’s really not for everyone. What I’m trying to say is that while we’re encouraged to explore and pursue our dreams, we’re also constantly reminded of the importance of stability. The life of an artist, we’re conditioned to believe, is unreliable. We’re portrayed in movies as the parents who leave their children to chase after an unattainable fantasy. We’re the ones who blindly follow the aesthetic life. That’s where the paradox in me lies.


First off, the ups and downs—that’s who we are. We embrace the patterns and colors of the universe—the positive and the negative, the light and the dark. There’s nothing wrong with that. We’re ups and downs, like notes of an unfinished song. So long as we’re the ones writing it.  Don’t be afraid to embrace the good and the bad. Believe me, there are days where I just lie there and feel the weight of all the characters I’ve yet to step into, all the stories I’ve yet to write, and then there are days where a random stranger will share his/her story with me and reveal the secret to their life.  

[At my parents’ house and I hear my Mom laughing downstairs so I’m going to take a break and see what she’s up to.]

Secondly, freedom and stability are by no means mutually exclusive. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m very grounded in my values and principles. Let’s take a closer look at the song example I mentioned earlier. Every song carries a unique tune, but within that lies a separate universe in how you express it. By singing the same song, two singers tell different versions of the same tale, and that song instantly becomes two. In the same sense, the way you live your life defines the tune of the song; you write the notes just like you write your story. But how you sing it, how you decide to carry the tune is entirely up to you. For example, a woman may reveal her motherhood through her pitch; if that’s the case, she should be mindful of that pitch as she composes her song. But she must also recognize that the qualities of being a mother doesn’t necessarily live in one’s pitch. It could be in her timbre, or even the pauses she takes to catch her breath.  

There was a point in my life when I didn’t know how to balance my family with my ambitions and need for freedom. (And believe me, I’m still far from mastering it). But what I’ve slowly come to realize is that things like family and principles, you can always fit them into the new world you want to create. And sometimes it’s not about balancing them every day. Sometimes you take a step back and think of how to balance your life with them in it. The timeline you’re so used to living by—replace the time values with your own principle values. Be creative. You create your fantasies and dreams. You create your desires and motivations.

It’s like time management. It’s about managing and organizing your life, not about balancing everyday so they take up equal time. A recent study about travelling parents shows that what’s most important in a child’s life isn’t the amount of time they spend with their parents, but rather, the quality of the time they spend with their parents. So don’t hide behind your kids or whatever principle it might be—they’re not your shield. My family brings me a kind of bliss that I could never feel from chasing the world. It’s a different kind of beauty, and it adds a new dimension to my life. So organize your life like you manage your time. Take charge of your life and stop with the excuses.

To the beautiful souls and free spirits—you’re made with an incredible capacity to carry life. Never stop surprising yourself by how much bigger and more beautiful you are than you had imagined. Don’t feel the need to take the conventional path too often. Never stop surprising yourself. Never stop creating. Never stop wondering. Never stop living. And never stop exhaling magic.

Just remember that your substance, your spark, and your purpose are magical. No one’s version of the world will ever be good enough for you, so create your own. Just make sure it’s a good one. Don’t just create something, don’t just be someone different. Be someone beautiful. Be someone inspirational. Be someone who carries warmth and grace. Don’t just experience life, understand it, teach it, play with it. Don’t ask for less responsibilities, ask for more strength. And when someone throws negativity at you, learn to detach from the negativity and offer them a glimpse of your world. I hope you never stop believing in yourself and the universe, cause I won’t. That’s my promise to the world, and that’s my promise to my 3-year-old self.  

And I’ll say this again, I’m far from mastering it. This is just the beginning, remember?

If We Could Go Back And Be Naive Again

“I’m happy to see you again.”

“Likewise; it’s been too long.”

“I figured you were busy. Every time I call you out for a cup of coffee, you seem to find a clever excuse to not see me.”

“I haven’t been happy and it’s been this way for a long time now. The thought of suicide has never left my mind. Again and again I try to abandon the idea, but nothing can really take those thoughts away from my mind for too long. I’d like to focus only on the present, but I keep dwelling on the past.”

“I love you, Triston, even if no longer romantically. The memories you gave me are precious and a daily motivation. You’re always going to be a great man to me.”

Truth was, his warmth had yet to leave her soul. And after realizing this, she drove off into the night with a goal of chasing the moon until it was nowhere to be found. There were no stars in the sky, only a gigantic ball of light sitting in solitude, punishing itself for something it had no control over. She drove and drove, but the moon led her right back to his house.

The scene felt so familiar, dating back to ages and ages ago. She stood there, in his place, and he took hers against the door. She longed to help him, but she lost her right to the moment she walked away from their love. She never thought of him once when she was with Enrique but her heart just naturally drifted back to him now that she allowed it.

She didn’t say a single word and just sat on his steps. And things fell naturally into place when he plopped down, his back against hers. Two against the darkness, staring up at the hole in the velvet sky, unaware that Tessa was gazing down from the window.

Their silence had been through so much together.

StoriesHillary Wen
An Ancient Obsession

This may seem gibberish right now, but I think I’m in a tragedy. And it’s a tragedy my mind is writing for my life. I’m trying so hard to change it. I’m trying. Thing is: my mind’s a genius. And I’m it’s obsession.

His words fell so softly onto the side of her ear and eased their way gently into whatever was left in her. And she no longer needed a glass of wine to hold his words dearly.

“I’m never going to settle am I? I’m never going to get that fairytale ending, am I?”

The lids closed softy over her wandering pupils and her head swayed in swirling motions the rhythm of his silence. 

“Sometimes I wonder how I got to where I am today. I guess this chapter is about how much can happen to a stagnant life. It’s about how much of life I can feel by doing nothing. How much I can stand myself when I’m not moving. No stable income, no relationship, no emotional outlet but myself—see where it takes me.”

Hillary WenStories
Dust Off My Wings

I was having a rough time a year ago, a period of dry lucidity. Left my mind behind for a long walk with a goal of getting lost. The wind was blowing fiercely at that hour, and it felt like the world was exhaling all its waste onto me. Then all of a sudden, my ears captured this faint tune drifting through the breath of the breeze. All the winds ceased to howl and the world around me stood still altogether. The melody grew with every footstep, but my feet were hesitant to accelerate at the risk of compromising the divinity of the tune, and so I decided to sit down instead. Closed my eyes for however long I did, and reopened them to the street musician sitting right before me. I turned to him and smiled, and he returned a radiant gesture of acknowledgment. Without the exchange of a single word, we shared an hour or two of silence together before I left him with a poem and a "I couldn't help it" smile. The last thing I remember was his "don't look for me" nod. I didn't listen to him, though I should have because when I went to look for him again, he was already gone. 

I've been lucky enough to cross paths with these angels who seem to brush the dust off my wings so effortlessly. These wonderful people I don't and will never know. I want to be one of them. I want to be many of them. Radiating, resonating, piecing together lost souls...

Concealed Within True Love

Continuity is not a theory; it actually exists, so I’ve reassured myself over two fleeting decades of animation. This single quest for clarity, especially within romantic endeavors, has dragged with such muffled mercy to the soul that my faith in such continuum has fallen inferior to what others deem fantasy. And again, I propose the question: Is a flow in progress self-sustainable?

I don’t know the secret to continuity, but in some untrodden region of my consciousness, I recognize that I won’t secure it in Keats or Shakespeare. And whether through the sirens of heaven or the indolence of hell, continuity has entertained my mind with only an exquisite spirit of inquiry. But today I stand, embowered in my own awakened and flickering eyes, upon a first glimpse of this concept so fine in texture.

Continuity in romance is not about imagining a future with someone, but about not envisioning one without them. It’s not about wandering the celestial paradise or the depths of hell, but about journeying back and forth without losing sight of that one person. And it’s not about uniting by the hand, but by the density of each footstep and pace of each breath. Lastly, it’s not about him/her being the one; it’s about the two of you becoming one.

Within his voice, I have found the therapeutic value of harmonic rhythms found only in music, and within his eyes, the enchantment of vibrating colors emitted only through light. And within his soul. I have begun to digest the manifesting expression of eternity concealed within true love.

Creating Your World Called Home

Who am I? What makes me, me? What is the unique energy, substance, spark, that is mine and mine alone?

We continue to ask these questions that can sometimes feel overwhelming, so instead, ask yourself to…

Picture this imaginary three foot bubble around you. Anyone within three feet from you is automatically absorbed into your world. What will they find in there? What do you want them to feel and experience while they’re in your world? And then when you figure that out, how can you make this three foot bubble into a three thousand foot bubble?

We’re born into a pre-written background story — our ethnicity, our socio-economic background, our family, our culture — but whether our story is made of words or pictures, whether we write a chapter book, an epic poem, or a collection of short stories….how many pages we write…

That is completely up to us. So use the colors in your story carefully, because your story is the world that you live in. That world isn’t created for you. You create it. With every thought and decision you make.

We don’t attract people to us, we attract people to what we stand for. And people don’t fall for us, either. They fall in love with the world that we live in and strive every day to create.

The sooner you recognize that, the sooner you can start creating your world confidently, apologetically. And the sooner you can allow more of yourself into your life.

Some people, when I ask them what they want to do in life, they say they want to inspire others. They want to build a legacy. And ask them about the legacy and they just don’t know. Not because they’re not powerful, capable beings, but because they simply don’t know themselves well enough yet. They don’t have a clear enough picture of what their world looks like.

Who do you want to inspire? What kind of people do you love and enjoy spending time with? How will you inspire? What is the unique gift and experience that the universe gave you that’s completely yours?

The world that you create for yourself is your confession of character. That is your truth. So stop asking what you can create for the world, and instead, ask yourself what kind of world do you want to live in and build everyday? And then day by day, invite the rest of the world in. That’s where your legacy begins.

And it doesn't mean the world will always like what they see. Within all of us lives a capacity for great success. But know that true success comes from true vulnerability, and sometimes at great costs and responsibilities. You see yourself for who you are and others will begin to see you for who you are. So evidently, some people are going to reject you. Let that fuel you to embrace who you are. Not out of contempt because then you’re not only rejecting them, but also yourself. No, do it out of love— for yourself and for the world that you live in.

We, as humans, fear what we do not understand. So understand that those who reject you are just not familiar with the energy you emit. They’re not familiar with your strength, your power. Don’t expect everyone to understand because they won’t. What you understand is your privileged. And so instead, seek to understand, and be the person who loves and accepts others.

Remember that those who love you love themselves the same way. Those who reject you reject themselves the same way, and those who expand you bathe in stardust everyday. (From My Low Budget High Spirit)

Surround yourself not with people who will tell you that your glass is half empty or full, but people who will pour into your glass until it overflows. We all want to find someone who will encourage us to drink and refill our glasses. And most of us want to be someone who will pour into others’ glasses.

But before we can do that, we have to figure out what it is that we want to pour in there. And once you figure that out, let it pour out of your soul. What you’ll find is that the universe expands at the rate at which your soul pours out.

Your world isn’t just in your head. It’s in the lives you expand, in the air you cleanse, and in the truth that you own.

You're A Gifted Child, The Universe Told Her

You’re a gifted child, the universe told her. She was 1.

I have a feeling I won’t get along with this child, an uncle told her Father. She was 2.

There’s something special about this child, the adults crowded around her. She was 3.

I don’t want you playing with her, her aunt told her cousin as they were playing together. She was 4.

Could be a disorder, the psychiatrists told her parents as they observed her. She was 5. 

The kids in school won’t play with me, she told her Mother. She was 6.

Don’t ask for less responsibilities. Instead, seek more strength to carry, said the universe. She was 7. 

There are lots of people waiting for you to fall. You can’t let them win, an aunt warned her. She was 8.

I am meant to be alone in this life, she believed. She was 9. 

It was at a Best Buy when a stranger reached inside her skirt. She was 10. 

If you could carry their burden, maybe they’ll find happiness again, she told herself. She was 11.

Please, don’t take my Mom from us, she prayed on her knees for an hour each night. She was 12. 

The voices aren’t real, she assured herself as she trembled beside the light each night. She was 13. 

I don’t know who I love more, said her first boyfriend after she found out. She was 14.

My girlfriend doesn’t want me talking to you anymore, said her best friend. She was 15.

All you can do is show more compassion. Understand them even if they can’t understand you yet. You were created to walk through hell with a smile, she practiced in the mirror. You were designed to carry much more than this. The universe gave you the capacity to see, understand, absorb more. Your only job in this life is to color its picture with your own colors. She was 16. 

Why not? she began to ask. She was 17. 

Just love more, she told herself. The more it hurts, the more you must love, because only love can conquer pain. Love purely, beautifully, vibrantly. She was 18.

You can trust me, her best friend and third boyfriend promised for over a year as he carried a separate life behind her. She was 19.

Would you like to go on vacation together, a professor asked as his lips touched her ear. She was 20. 

I will show her that life is beautiful, that light and love always wins. I will prove to her the power of absolute faith, and she will pull through. She was 21. 

You’re beautiful. I think I’m in love with you, her boss told her as he ran his hand down her back. She was 22. 

She’s a lesbian, it’s all in your head, her fourth boyfriend made her believe for two years. She was 23.

What kind of world shall I build? Who do I invite into it? she finally asked. She was 24.

Before you embark on this next journey, take a deep breath. Relax. Give the child some space to heal, I tell her. We’re 25. 

To Familiar Sparks

When my mind was young my heart was old And I’d watch the seasons race the cold With a match I once tickled the sun And burned for it to color me young. Now my mind is old and my heart is young And my mornings chant anthems of heroes unsung Through window cracks, a young ray fingers Sending tickles of a warmth that lingers. Every now and then I still spark a flame I test my limits; I challenge God by name. To old familiar chants, my mind still turns To familiar sparks my heart forever burns.

PoetryHillary Wen