Thứ Ba, 11 tháng 6, 2013

Want To Live

I fell in love many times over in the past 60 days.

Listening to my little sister speak Thai and watching her share smiles with the Thai people selling street food outside her apartment. The way she shares kindness and understanding with everyone. The way she eloquently speaks about her business classes and the passion I feel she shares with me for sustainability programs.

Repelling down cliffsides with her. Bathing in waterfall pools, burning our toes in hot springs and holding my breath as we (or just she) maneuvres across narrow canyons. 5am walks to “Coffee Love” sunsets with a trail of puppies at our heels. Green-tea-cheesecake breakfast and Fried Morning Glory dinners for $1 a plate.

Danni #1 and the way he showed me through his hill-tribe village. The machete he used to design our bamboo chopsticks. Squatting over the fire with him as we created a curry pot for the group dinner. Rushing out of the river before he could join me for a bath...

Danni #2 and our chats over fresh fruit and fresher coffee. The way he taught Muay Thai to the little blonde kids and the glistening of his chiseled body in the light of his fire show.

Tai, his big afro, nose ring and tattooed body. Hopping on his bike for quick rides to the market. Singing Bob Marley, Matisyahu and Amy Winehouse together on the deck by the beach… Most memorable for his guitar and the lyrics he wrote contemplating life:

Music is meditation, from my mind and heart. It makes people understand you. Sometimes, I talk like this to you. But sometimes I cannot talk to everyone at the same time like I can with music.

Coffee (very slight chance I’m misspelling) and the way he educated me about the beauty of the Thai king- the longest serving royalty in the world- so very admired by the Thai people and countries everywhere. A king who cares about the people. A king who visits the villages where the drugs rug rampant and he plants fruits. A king who makes a trip back to Boston to thank the doctor who delivered him. A king who cares for the people and remembers what life is really about.

The chats we shared about Buddha, as we kayaked to a tiny, secluded cove, where nothing could be heard but our soft voices and the tiny splashes against the kayaks. In Buddhism, there is a no worship of one God. There is a belief in the awakening of our true selves. Do you trust yourself? Do you believe in yourself? Do you honor yourself? Do you know who you are and what you stand for?

I ask myself these questions so many times these days. It is okay. Does it scare you to think like this? And, why is that?

Live not from fear. Live awake.

Did you know that “Buddha” actually means awakened one?

Daniel and Jeenal and how they dedicated a month to making our lives as full of light as possible by passing along with us the virtuous teachings of traditional yoga from The Yoga Institute of Mumbai, India. How it became easy to see that the man who works at the gas station is not a man pumping gas, but a man who lives a life of service to others; the greatest life one can live.

We can all live that life. Your gifts are your service. Everyone has them…don’t be afraid to use them. Don’t be afraid to draw, or sing.  To rap or to organize books. Don’t be afraid to say no to meat or say yes to home gardens. Not taking pride in your gifts does no good to the world. You were given them for a reason. Please share.

If you need to start small. Smile. The greatest gift and the best service you can give is your smile. If we could only see the affects of our smiles I think we would do it more often- to our Moms, our waiters, to strangers on the subway and even those who blare their horns at us.

There was a monk who walked back and forth to the market one day. Every time he passed one house, a man would throw dirt at him. Time and time again as he passed, he got hit with dirt. But the monk never said anything. Finally, at the end of the day the man throwing the dirt realized it was a monk at whom he was harassing and he bowed his head in shame asking for forgiveness. “Why are you sorry?” said the monk. I had the fortune to be able to have 100 fresh baths today.

Smile at others. Because when you reach for a hot coal to throw in anger, you always burn yourself first.

On the boat rides, many times I thought of my father. As we approached the docks at the end of the trips, I saw my hand reaching for the bow line and heading over to the cleats. Going out to sea, I sat on the front of boat with the wind blowing in my hair, and I traveled back to my childhood. The summers we spent living on the Hudson River. The way my Dad taught me to feel the breeze on my face, instead of worrying about the mess that became my hair in the salty air. The way he taught me that I am strong enough and smart enough to scrub a 42foot yacht down. That we don’t need to pay others for things that benefit ourselves by using our own hands to do.

I think about the song by Dido, “Always thought that I would love to live by the sea. Travel the world alone and live more simply.” And I wonder if that will be me one day as I close my eyes and I feel free.

I fell in love with Taro the dog and his sincere loyalty. How he slept everynight at the foot of our bungalow and not once did we even offer him a morsel of food. How he walked down the beach with us, but only until he reached the territory of another stray dog gang. But there he was, waiting for us by our beach-zone when we returned.

I fell in love with the sunsets. Every night a different painting. Every night an image that only the divine can create. Every night, watering my soul.

I fell in love with all the people I met at my yoga academy. My roommate from Spain and her calming presence. Stories of her travels and inspiration from her deep love. My free-loving neighbors from Germany and “Thailand”. Sweaty morning workouts followed by much needed laughter. The beautiful blondes from Norway and their insights about good food and farming practices- shared body art and a passionate birthday dinner. Soft souls from Mexico and Italy, accepting a challenge of language barriers with dedicate and positivity- teaching me about good cooking, Ayurveda and tranquility. My first friend from Luxenberg and some much-needed good humor and sarcasm. A little love from Korea, with a genuine nature that turned a-month-long-encounter into something that feels much more deep. And my travel mate from France and the ease with which we lived together for more than 5 weeks, most significantly our last 8 days on Koh Phangan- in a bungalow built for hippies. Sharing a bed that we often abandoned for hammocks. Spending mornings exploring the islands and evenings doing asanas in front of the sunsets. Learning through her experiences in life. Never feeling stressed or frustrated or unloving. Easy living.

I even fell in love with the ignorant travellers. The people who cursed our tour guide for “squeezing too many people in the back of a pickup truck”.  The people who did not return the “kap kun kas” and the people who ate at Burger King when there was real Pad Thai and fresh fruit on every corner. These people reminded me that every day is a challenge. A test of our patience. An opportunity to grow. A moment to  find strength to turn away from the dark side and thrive in the light. A reason to cultivate willpower. Because I have seen and felt such light so many times this month, but I know how easy it is to slip. So I ask for guidance in during these moments of temptation, so that I remember what I stand for. So that I get back up if I fall. And so that maybe others with walk with me.

There are so many things I do not know. And it is so easy to be scared. Or to give up. Or to live blind.

But easy isn’t always the most rewarding. Actually, it hardly ever is.

Many people have said to me, “Mexico, Thailand, Costa Rica…. You’re so lucky!”


I am blessed. I will say that. We all are. We’re all lucky, too, if that’s the word you wanna choose.

Because life is a choice. The way you live it is a choice. Nothing is harder or easier than anything else. Everything has it’s black and it’s white.

Do you think there weren’t days that I missed my family? Do you think I didn’t get sad looking at the photos of my friends laughing together all fancy at a wedding? Do you think I didn’t question my decision when I saw my cousins and aunts and ucles all together at my Grandma’s 94th birthday? Do you think I like the foot infections that come with adventures hikes and poor bathing conditions? Do you think I wasn’t scared to walk off the plane alone into dark, bustling Bangkok? Do you think sometimes I, too, wonder, “am I on the right path?”

Travel is a choice. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s time I give up on it though. It’d be nice to have my own apartment in one place. Buy some real furniture and decorations. Have enough stability to have a comfortable relationship instead of doing that thing where there’s whole seas between a boyfriend and I. Have a steady diet instead of searching foreign places for things that feel right for nourishment. Worry less about sanitation and travel disease...

It is a choice I make because it is what works for me. It is something I need to do to learn and to grow. I need to know the world. I know that it is part of me and part of my future. But it’s not as easy as you think. Actually, it can be quite scary sometimes to open your eyes that wide.

The point is that you choose what makes your heart beat. If it is holding hands with your lover at home with a dog at your feet- than that is perfect. If it is hiking through dirty hills and feeling the earth on your feet- than that is perfect, too.

Both are hard. And both are beautiful.

Just make sure you are living.

Be true to yourself and what makes your soul blossom. And don’t choose another path just because someone else is doing it.

Really live.

Not in the mechanical way where the media determines your outfit and your neighbors determine your income and a magazine determines what your body is supposed to look like.

Want to live.

In the way that makes your heart beat, echoing the drums of the world.

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