A few years, I found a soul friend. He didn't know me, and I didn't know much about him. He was a star and I lived across the globe. But at our cores, he and I were made of something of the same substance.
A few days ago, I found out he has passed away from a possible suicide. That soul-throbbing emptiness, I have felt before.
You know the days when you look up at the stars and instantly feel your worries fade? Is it possible that we, as beings, are connected to the substance of another star?
And one day, we look up and feel a dreadful emptiness and a hint of guilt. With no previous understanding that we ever connected with that one star, and no knowledge that the star is no longer there. Still we sit there, consumed by emptiness, feeling so whole and so empty, so big and so small, so ancient and so naive at the same time.
I can't help but think that if only he knew I existed, that he had a soul friend, that we would both feel a little more whole right now. And this is why I do this.
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.
"I'm obsessed with making every moment of my life full of value and substance. I'm constantly fighting for miracle and adventure, and everyone around tells me to just enjoy life and stop fighting. Then I realized--I AM the adventure, and I AM the miracle. I'm fighting for myself and I will NEVER give up fighting for who I am. If the greatest adventure is life, and the purest miracle is this very moment, the what the hell am I even waiting for?"
Me: Let’s play a game.
Him: I love it when you say that.
Me: It’s a psychology game I recently learned. Name your three favorite animals in order, and then three traits about each.
Him: Box turtles intrigue me because their lives and habitats are so distinctly different from other animals. They’re unique and still maintain a prehistoric air about them. Manatees interest me for the same reasons; they’re just so peaceful and seem to live with a grace that doesn’t match their physical appearance. Peregrine falcons are the epitome of predator in my eyes, but they can live in the middle of nowhere or in the bustle of NYC.
If I may, I’d like to hear your animals before you reveal the meaning of mine. See how accurate I am—about you and psychology.
Me: Taking my game and making it your own; how enticing. Mine are, respectively, the dragon for its majestic, magical, and all-powerful essence, the wolf’s sexy, fierce, and pack-loyal appeal, and finally, the hawk, for its divine, all-knowing, and free nature.
Him: I get the sense that every one of those adjectives applies to you.
Me: Your compliments are too gracious.
Him: I might see myself as a turtle and I definitely see the wolf in you. But in the end, we’re both birds.
Me: Does that mean we can fly away together? If so, I’ll race you.
Him: If we were birds, where would you want to fly to?
Me: We’d fly against the rotation of the earth, and challenge the laws of time.
Him: That might be the most attractive thing anyone’s ever said to me. I would be perfectly content to spend my life as avian time traveler. Join me?
Me: Don’t have to ask; just glance over beside you and smile back.
Him: Hillary, I am completely transfixed by you.
Me: If I ever fell behind, would you wait for me?
Him: Birds aren’t meant to wait, but some do fly in groups. As a hawk though, perhaps you’re meant to never look back. As for me, an endless journey with you is exactly the kind of trip I would enjoy most.
This was a conversation I had with a stranger many years ago. We never spoke after that.
My Darkest Mask
Inspired by a conversation this week, a part of me has awoken. Call it the full moon if it eases you, but that evening I opened myself up to vulnerability almost unintentionally. I don’t know the purpose of this note, whether I’m asking for acceptance or merely seeking clarity and finding my place in this universe.
Among the topics discussed were my two fantasies growing up; one to be a nun, and the other, a prostitute. Having given this some thought in the past, it appears that what ties the two together is a level of detachment from basic human emotion.
I've noticed that I often find it impossible to feel anger. Not so much because it's a useless reaction, but because punishing oneself over the fault of another doesn't seem to me a natural flow of energy. But I digress.
Returning to human experience, it didn't come naturally to me. I remember very well the last episode of the British show, Sherlock Holmes. In the episode, Sherlock's sister, Eurus, shares that she had always felt as though she lived in the clouds. She paints this picture beautifully by setting a girl on an airplane in the sky where everyone else is asleep. The young girl is the only one awake in a plane of unconscious passengers, with no direction and a crashing plane full of lives in her hands.
Now Eurus’ incandescence far exceeds my capacity, but my sentiment and apprehension very much mirrors her's. Growing up, there were patterns. People learn. People think. People understand. & Well...I see, absorb, and become.
There's always lived a detachment from mankind in me. As a young girl, I remember watching man as if from the clouds, unable to grasp their essence. I remember watching children fight over toys, and I, unable to tear my eyes off of the little red object. Was it the color, the movement of the wheels, or man's unwavering desire to sacrifice their attention riddled in exchange for a moment's enchantment?
Most of man’s concepts and actions I found to be foolish, but I was simultaneously simply and completely mesmerized by the power of the superfluous. The child in me made a pact to find man's secret, and I began by adopting all that was man. I started feeling man’s emotion, I started calculating transactions. And my maturity was nurtured with every emotion I felt, every character I played—as was my manhood.
Then I started falling in love with things and with people. But that wasn't enough. I wanted to live, and I wanted to write the story of life—not just chapters within a novel, but also short stories, poems, epics. Oh, how enticing it all felt. And gradually, an experiment transformed into something unstoppable. I became obsessed. And on my lighter days, I crave and starve for the human experience.
I wanted to hold the light and darkness. I wanted to know. I wanted to feel. I wanted to be. I wanted to die. I wanted to live. The heightened euphoria of intimacy, the dysfunctional depth of emotional dehydration. And oh boy did I love, and love, and love. I lost myself, I re-envisioned myself, I consistently compromised the limitations of my capacity. I watched as characters redeveloped around me, almost sadistically, as I starved myself with enchantment.
Perhaps I've fully assimilated and have become one with man. Perhaps all the silly products of man are rather nice. And perhaps money and time, human emotion and love, all the little red objects on wheels that I play with now—well, they could be common miracles. Perhaps this is all imagined and I am just man. How beautifully terrifying would that be? If I am man, must these thoughts color me despicable?
Growing up, all the adults recognized my intelligence. Cousins my age were warned to stay away from me to avoid any visible line of comparison. The cousin who I was closest in age with growing up, he bullied me. And still to this day, he tries to dissociate himself from me. Am I so grotesque? I learned to keep my mouth shut and keep my observations to myself. So now I ask questions and stop there.
And the people that I respected most, they recognized something too. And they wanted to nurture whatever it was that they saw. It was my new weapon. Or rather, a shield. Whatever it was that people saw. It was always different. I didn’t care, it gave me power and momentum. And sometimes, momentum shadows clarity.
I've been asking Who am I for as long as I can remember. When shall I muster the courage to ask What am I? Or must I surrender under the illusion of personality disorder? Oh dear, please somebody wake up, please. After all, I am just a little girl in the sky with little direction and a fear of crashing the plane full of sleeping souls.
And this concludes the most vulnerable, darkest mask I wear. My hands tremble, my eyes water, my breath hesitates.
A Piece of Today’s Peace
What I'm trying to say is that I've gradually fallen in love with what it means to be human. At my purest state, the word imperfections stands completely hallow. This manmade illusion of perfection averts us from simply existing and vibrating as energies. I am a compilation of vibrations. Aren’t you?
Most days, I feel like The Little Mermaid in this world so foreign, so magical. And I worry because being human feels foreign, even after so many years of falling in love with it. After my short stories are complete, I must again return to my cloud. After writing and writing, I lay down my pen and let life speak. My dimension is calling.
There are two reasons why this is relevant now:
About three years ago, I fell in love with a kind heart. He was rather simple—an intellectual and voracious learner who carried his virtues with much soul and playfulness. Such energy was to be absorbed, and I did so almost immediately. So foreign, so sheltered, my last three years have been of light and cheerfulness. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to spend my life in this story, as this very character?” There were times when I felt completely content writing chapters of a novel. I closed this novel two days ago.
Within those three years erupted endless wars between the protagonist and the writer of my story. Day after day, I found myself short of breath, drowning in the air of man, yet I continue. For three years straight, I lived in a constant state of sleep paralysis. Screaming and kicking and begging, trading all my attention to move a finger or toe. Every day, I found myself chanting, “What the hell am I doing here?” And yet again, every day, I chose to be there. And how could I not, every moment was beautiful!
A few months ago, I also met someone with a little bit of magic, almost dark magic it would seem. What I want from this person is completely different, but he chose the black dress, and I knew he held the first paragraph to a story I want to write. He opened a door, and I exploded in agony. It was like tasting snow for the first time. My entire body drops as I embrace a ground full of falling winter, snowflakes raining as stardust. Often times in life, we meet people who emerge from thin air, staying but a moment’s time to open a window or sit beside you. And so I continue to remind myself in all my interactions with man, we destroy things by trying to make them last forever. How beautiful it is to dissolve in a moment’s time and call it infinity?
Entrepreneurship has always been arousing, challenging me in the most devious of ways. Commitment and organization were hardly faces I could recognize, not to mention the rallying of man support. So naturally, I was drawn to this brilliant adventure. But how can I embark on this journey if I think so ordinarily of mankind's fight for attention and competition? Encounter after encounter my identity withers challenged, and I stand here today directionless before the man-made concept of business, paddling against nature’s currents. What shall motivate me to keep impelling?
Perhaps the reason for my insecurity and deep fear of abandonment is that I don’t belong in this world. And at any moment, they will find out. And when they do, it will just be me in the sky with a crashing plane.
I’m not so delighted as to think me any different. There have been a great deal of those before me, people who saw and felt more. Many of us have assimilated into roles of man simply out of awe by the innocence of man. Some became scientists, some became writers and philosophers. Where do the rest go?
What we’re composed of is a little different. We have a little bit of magic in us.
It’s not intelligence, and that’s what we need to realize. My parents thought it was intelligence, people label it IQ. It’s simply not. So don’t call us artists, as artists are defined by what they create. Don’t call us anything, and simply coexist with us because we share a home in this magical universe.
What we’re composed of is an overflow of energy and adventure, completely and erotically vibrant. And this is what I wish to tell my partner. I feel so much, and to project that onto a relationship just isn’t fair. I travel between dimensions, and to have you wait simply couldn’t be. I tell you this as I’ve tried to tell you each day since we’ve met, I was born and raised in a universe different from the one we know, and occasionally, I must return home. I was never meant to stay in one place for too long, even though I fantasize about it every day, and will never stop asking why not.
How many times must I arrive at this destination until I can find my journey? Or is the secret to recognize that the passengers are happy sleeping, that perhaps if I steer through the rhythm of my heart, we will safely land. What if they wake up and cannot breathe the air that I breathe. What then?
"I forget what the weather was like that day; probably cloudy with a chance of emotion. All I remember is that it was windy. It was the type of wind that would blow your words in the opposite direction so they would remain eternally wandering in search of lips that would never part."
"The best moments in reading are when you come across your own suppressed emptiness. You stand face to face with a character in your book, a person you never met, someone even who is long dead--and you finally realize that the book is not what you've been reading."
“That’s not what you want to tell me. I know that because it wasn’t direct at all.”
“Neither of us follow the crowd, which means that we’re destined to walk our own paths. And as much as I’m grateful that we crossed paths in our own spectacular journeys, I don’t think we share a mutual destination. My journey isn’t for anyone else, and I suspect yours isn’t either. It’s wonderful to arrive at certain check points and find someone there to share the excitement with, but one day I’ll find myself in a place that no one’s ever been, and I don’t know if I have the grace to share that with anyone. My journey is one that I have to walk alone. Only then can I arrive at where I’m destined to go. And I love you because you are the same way."
"You know, when I was younger, someone told me that the worst thing you can do to someone is say I love you then walk away."
"Maybe it’ll be the best thing anyone’s ever done for you."
"Sounds too cliché for my liking."
"That’s because no one who says it truly understands it. That’s one of the things I’m on my way to find."
"Then let’s find it together. We’ll walk there together, because you and I both know that it’s one we want to share with someone. When the time comes, we’ll part ways. You’ll never reroute for me, I’ll never reroute for you. You never slow down for me; I never slow down for you. When we part ways, we don’t look back."
"What shall I fill the gaping hole of your absence with then?"
“You know that you can fill the void with anything and it’ll be just as good if you let it.”
“Not everything is worth making a miracle into.”
“What are you so afraid of? You were the one who told me that everything in life is a miracle.”
“And I’m afraid of losing the natural touch to that miracle.”
“How many stars does it take to carry our worries away--can one star take away one worry? If so, what happens when a whole sky full of stars can’t take it all away?
“Is it possible to be so noble that not even the stars deserve to carry the weight of your heart?
“At that point, do you continue staring at the sky and let it absorb whatever it can, or is it better to avoid the disappointment? For me, I feel like I’m betraying the stars when I stare up at the sky and can’t empty my mind. As if I can’t share everything with it—as if I’m keeping secrets.
“You think maybe we have a special connection with a star? That maybe we spend our whole lives releasing all our emotions to one special star. One day, the star dies and disappears, and we look up into the sky and feel only loneliness. We don’t even know why we’re sad, or that we are. And we never find out why.
“The stars are so many light years away. Maybe the sad souls are just the ones who have formed a special connection with a star that’s long dead.”
He didn’t answer any of her questions. Instead, he turned to her and asked, “When’s the last time you heard the sound of your own breath?”
“What does it sound like?” she asked?
“The weight of the stars."
"I believe in a romantic love that exists beyond the boundaries of the universe. One so strong that we don't have to worry about betrayal. And I don't want to stop searching for it."
"You mean within us?"
"I don't think it's fair to ask anyone to stop searching for it. Because if there's something better for you, I want you to have it. If this love was powerful enough and everything you wanted, you wouldn't have betrayed it. So why are we asking for a lifelong commitment? We all deserve a love that we'll never betray and even think about letting go of."
"I’m not letting go of us. If you want to, just let me know so I can hold you that much tighter."
"Why would you want to hold me tighter? Why not let me go? You can let me go without letting us go."
Me: Happy Monday!
Young Man: Happy Monday to you as well.
Me: It's almost Friday.
Young Man: That's one way of looking at it. The glass isn't 90% empty, it's 10% full.
Me: Most people forget that the glass isn't meant to stay full, it's meant to be emptied and refilled