My mood changes with the seasons, and on the colder days, I'm never really able to shake off the feeling that I'm a burden to those close to me. On my lighter days, I’m painfully aware of the negative energy I release into the world I claim to love; and on the heavy ones, I crave destruction.
It’s not only the seasons that determine my state. It’s the rhythm of the wind, the pattern of the stars, the way the blood flows through my veins at a particular angle of posture. Extreme hypersensitivity, I’ve called it since I was 3 or 4.
Nothing ever seems to help.
There was a point in time when I spent my nights trembling beside a night light, haunted by the vibrations of my spiritual sensors. One fortunate Sunday, my good pal Fortuity introduced me to my teacher, Ying Lao Shi. (I’ll tell you about Fortuity later). My Lao Shi explained to me that what I possessed was the gift of a beautiful mind. Until then, I never realized that a mind could be beautiful—and could hardly see how beautiful could be used to describe the dark universe that tortured my sanity each night. He explained to me that he shared an experience similar to mine in his 40’s, and explained that the fact that I experienced this so early on in life meant that I had that much more time to control it and mold it into something beautiful. Ying Lao Shi taught me that my mind wasn’t to be feared, but to be understood, to be mastered. Almost like a superpower.
My teacher didn’t just leave me with those words. He devoted hours every Sunday introducing me to the world’s newest technological innovations, medical breakthroughs, ancient scripts on spiritual resilience, potential career paths, the power of pure love, the art of imagination, and also helped me develop practical skills such as public speaking and time management. Near the end of these sessions, we philosophized for hours and hours at a time—ideas and theories zipping across the room at the speed of light. And so one Sunday at a time, Ying Lao Shi tapped into the gift that he recognized within me. Funny thing is that a decade later, I’m just realizing that not only did he gift me 60 years of knowledge, but also a lifetime’s worth of wisdom. He opened doors to a universe of possibilities while teaching me how to close the doors that did not deserve my attention.
I’ve often wondered about my teacher after the years of Sundays that we spent together. There are so many questions I never asked. Ying Lao Shi always carried a goofy smile on his face. He and his wife were both truly happy, and embraced so much love for each other and the world around them. Even when he was frail and barely able to speak after falling ill to cancer, my Lao Shi smiled and cracked jokes that made us all giggle. That’s when I realized that there was pain in his life that never manifested into his expression. Or maybe I just missed it.
So every now and then, I’m reminded of the beauty associated with those who have suffered and pulled through darkness. I remember that I shouldn’t be ashamed of the darkness within me because there is so much more light. Darkness isn’t something I can eliminate from my life—at least I haven’t learned how yet. And like taking a shower, detoxification of the mind must become a daily habit. There will be days when we’re stuck in darkness, and that’s quite alright. Sometimes we just need to stop fighting sadness so we can accept it and let it pass. The difference is that now I believe in myself, I believe in the light inside of me.
Since Ying Lao Shi, I’ve developed a habit of memorizing people's expressions—on my way to work, at a coffee shop, at a concert, during family events—the list goes on. I remember people by the stories of their expressions. And every now and again, I spot these troubled eyes with a touch of magic…love for life, love for tomorrow. These drowning eyes still full of faith and fight.
These eyes remind me that the most beautiful people, the very ones who allow me believe in life again and again, have all suffered deeply one way or another. Their expressions are of understanding, of purity. They’re eyes that whisper, “I don’t need to know your past to walk beside you.” These people walk through walls with a core of fire and a heart of gold.
And this heightened sensitivity that my Lao Shi has spent so much time cultivating, well it’s a gift. It allows me to feel what others feel, become what they are, visualize & absorb the possibilities of their imagination. My sensitivity is my superpower.