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.”
The relationship that you’re in right now—if you knew it wasn’t going to last, if you knew it had an expiration date, would it make you want to love deeper and fall harder or would you leave in search of another story?
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.”
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.
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?
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 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!
WHAT IT MEANS TO LIVE IN SHORT STORIES
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.
HOW I DO IT
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?
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...
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.
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. 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.
Morning coffee shop thoughts. Or perhaps rushing out of one realm and falling into another? If you are falling, may you be falling into the clouds of a beautiful universe.
Hi, I'm Hillary. I believe in alignment, magic, creation, and expansion, and am terrified of being a fraud. I'm hiding from a child, behind a child.
You see, the beginning of my life revolved around one single theme: The Gifted Child. Ever since I was a young gal, I've been told that I had this extraordinary capacity--adults in my family, teachers, peers, bosses, strangers with whom I shared a moment’s conversation…etc. And so at an early age, I promised the universe to do something extraordinary with my life.
In my earlier days, my differentness caused chatter in my family, and I remember being instructed by a distant relative to stand strong in life because there were people waiting for me to fail. As a young gal, I felt isolated...isolated form my peers, isolated from the world, isolated from who I was. All I knew was that I had to do something magnificent with my life, and I had to guard this gift of mine, even if it was with elitism, deceit, isolation, self-rejection, shame, guilt...etc.
There was also a deep need within me to protect the people who believed in me. In a way, I was responsible for their word and faith. They didn't pressure me to become great. They believed in me, and that was so much more. (In fact, all my parents ever taught me to do was to use this gift of mine to follow my heart and build a simple, beautiful life). But The Gifted Child was everything I knew.
She (the child) shaped me into who I am today. At a young age, she taught me to embrace my uniqueness. While other children were learning how to read time, she spent the majority of her time pondering the meaning of life. This child quickly grew impatient with the pace of life and boundaries of time, money, and such. She was to beat time, live outside of its boundaries. She was to live many lives at a time. And money? She was to create a new form of currency...The Gifted Child, she felt this unimaginable force within, this ability to see, feel, and understand things that no one else did.
Ah, The Gifted Child. She was my most powerful asset and my deepest hindrance, a gift and a curse.
She had trouble connecting with people. She was afraid to be who she was, and afraid to disappoint the people who believed in her. And worst of all, She felt like a fraud. Constantly. She never felt like she was good enough.
Elitism, deceit, isolation, self-rejection, shame, guilt were just a few symptoms. The only time she felt at peace was while watching genius movies or reading Nietzsche, or Emerson, or Einstein...etc. That's still true to this day.
So I suppressed her to the extent that I could. I rejected her. And she rejected me.
I turned 25 this past weekend. I still haven't changed the course of history.
At 25 years, I sit here battling the inner child within me. The one terrified to make mistakes and expose herself, mortified that they'd discover she was a fraud, and all the lies I've ever told to cover up the fact that she was just another gifted child who couldn't make it through the scopes of society. Let me explain...
They pull out their telescopes to hunt me down. They capture me only to put me under a microscope. Had they looked through a kaleidoscope. They would have seen me. They would have realized that I'm everywhere.
That we can't exist without each other. That we're a consequence of each other's thoughts, actions, and beliefs. That we live both for each other and from each other. That in this life of infinite love and change, all we're really looking for is alignment.
Alignment with each other. Alignment with the universe. Alignment with ourselves deep within.
Only after understanding that did my inner child put down her telescope. And microscope.
I'm been afraid my entire life, running from myself and hiding from that child, the unfamiliar power within. I wasn't afraid of disappointing everyone else. No, I was afraid of disappointing her. I never had a life away from her. In a way, she had pronounced me dead before I could take my first breath.
But I took my first breath, and the breaths that followed were inhaled with intent to suppress her. I had a bag full of ammunition: telescopes, microscopes, periscopes...the same ones she had used against me.
I wanted for so long to pronounce her dead. To break free of the chains that contained me. To unleash the me beyond her, and to show her that she was the only thing holding me back from coming alive. Put an end once and for all to elitism, deceit, isolation, self-rejection, shame, guilt that she had caused by destroying her.
But elitism, deceit, isolation, self-rejection, shame, guilt is not the means to that solution. What I can do is pull out my kaleidoscope and invite her to do the same.
Should we put an end to all this?
Who pronounced you dead?
...What does alignment mean to you?
This morning, a friend shared with me a story about his lovely morning adventure. My first instinct was to say, "Ah, that's incredible, I'm wildly envious!" But what I truly meant was, "Wow, you're beautiful. I'm deeply inspired by your story."
I think oftentimes, we focus on what others have that we don't, and it brings us to a place of comparison rather than unity. In these moments, we're faced with a choice; we can either feel envy or inspiration. I promise you they're equally powerful.
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 hollow. 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?
“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."