The sun pours in through these large windows. It swallows our little Tokyo apartment. It sets it on fire. It guilds it with gold, and after a long morning on my mat, I let go of all movement. I lie on my stomach. I lie on my back, closing my eyes, basking fully in the light. I lie like a good house cat stretching and soaking it all in. Eckart Tolle says that all of the great zen masters he has ever known were cats, so I suppose, this means I am onto something great. I do not talk about my time in sobriety very often because when I was collecting chips in AA, it felt like sobriety was more about getting prizes than enjoying life. I was always racing to the next chip. (You know, after the first year, you only get one chip a year, so this was a real disappointment to me at that time.) Anyhow, I have 11 months now, as of yesterday, and since I do not put so much emphasis on time, it is always a nice surprise when the 3rd of each month comes around. Now you know what the 3rd of next month will be.
I went to Harajuku yesterday. It is an immediate and impactful place
I step off of the train at Harajuku station, and there it is in front of me. There is no walking to it or needing to find it. It is just there like Bourbon Street. A ha, and a very short walk away from the chaos of this very famous street where all of the fashion and cosplay characters roam, is one of the most serene spots in Tokyo; Meiji Jingu Inner Garden. I take the short walk there and pay 500 Yen to enter. I walk to a quiet pond and find three turtles on a log just like I did at Walden Pond two years ago in Concord. Back when Thoreau was all that mattered for reasons I could not explain. This garden has not opened all the way yet, so without all of its colors, it looks like anywhere beautiful. It looks even like Concord. Everywhere is everywhere. I see it here now before the dirt field of an iris garden and the empty branches of cherry trees. Soon they will be snowing petals of light pink and white, but right now all I see is a serene pond just like Walden.
Beyond the Fringe
After traveling for quite a while now, I see that everywhere has something unique and familiar about it. I remember thinking that every other place in this world must have something spectacular that simply could not be found in Atlanta, GA. This is a common problem that we all share. We reject our own experiences. I realize that most people are in comparison. Our social media lives sort of demand comparison, so we start to view our lives through the lens of someone else’s experience. The other day I found myself questioning my own “crying on the bathroom floor” experience. This is my journal entry from that day;
March 1, 2018
I still feel the racing beneath my skin after all of this meditation because after all of the acceptance there are still parts of me that are so disgustingly human. I am hurting. I am not feeling perfectly imperfect today. I just screamed at the top of my lungs. This time it was way over the top. It was inappropriately loud for living in such tight quarters with the windows open. Everyone we know in this city lives behind each of these walls. I ran to the bathroom as if the world had ripped open a viewing hole just for my pain. Don’t look at me!
I stared at myself in the mirror for a minute and sobbed. Is this how it is supposed to happen? Are these the moments that define me? This place again on the bathroom floor…
Elizabeth Gilbert and Glennon Doyle talk about the “sobbing on the bathroom floor moments” as the ones that broke them into the next transition in life. Arjuna on the bottom of his chariot. The defining moments are fleeting. Is this a defining moment ? Is this my glorious moment right here on the floor because I feel so weak and ridiculous. Who’s to say that this is not my moment? Why do I always assume that everything great must happen somewhere else? My life must have moments for me, and the one best suited to define those has to be me. If I am not the one who decides this, who is? Who would be the one to say what matters and what does not matter in our own lives if not us?
We so often believe that life is happening somewhere else. Life is on the other side of the table. Life is a relationship that no longer exists. Life is a family that does not belong to us. Life is that woman that we will never look like, but this is not real. This is not what lights us up from inside and makes us feel ALIVE. What makes us feel alive is finding the raw and honest parts of the things that we all share. Deep down, we want validation for being human. What makes us feel alive is beyond the fringe. The models and vessels that carry these qualities, those will be different, but we are all here for the same reason. We are all living and trying to find a peaceful and purposeful existence. No one is above this. No one has a more important day or reason than anyone else. No one is born above anyone else. It is how we project what we all have in common that makes us unique. It has to be both. Instead of looking at the way someone else is living and either rejecting them or rejecting ourselves, we need to start finding acceptance.
I was a happy girl with a big family from Florida where life was measured in breaths held underwater, in buckets of sand and trips to the beach. We had permanent tanlines.
My father was a happy boy who grew into a happy young man who worked on Tampa Bay as a scuba instructor with a one-room apartment above a fish market on the water.
My mother was also a happy girl who grew up in big white house with a swimming pool and a diving board. She grew into a happy young woman who loved moving couches and desks up and down the stairs.
I am turning thirty this year. I used to be a young woman at 21, at 24 and even at 27. Those years are still so bright. The flowers were blooming, the fish were jumping, and songs were being sung so often we did not know there was music until it stopped playing completely. The things that we hear in memories. The things that exist when they are gone. It is not until an era of your life is clearly over that you notice it ever happened at all. It is not until those friends stop coming around that we notice that the time in our lives is actually over. It is not until we are something else that we notice there ever was a last time for the thing we used to be. NOW is the only time we have. There is no better life over there in any way of looking at it. Life happens to us now. This is the best life here now.
What makes me special? What is it that makes me special?
I think the special parts in each of us are the parts that remind us we are alive and connected to the world. We all have different entry points to this same discovery. Salt water, iris gardens, the sound of laughing, the feeling of laughter, a trip to the mountains, snow, rain, potatoes on the kitchen table. The smell and taste of dirt through the air, of salt through the wind. Everywhere is everywhere, and everyone is everyone.
P.S. Swimming and Sobriety
This is not supposed to be easy. Honestly, an easy life is often more difficult, as we all know. I may not always love every single second of it, but I will say that I have found some kind of acceptance when it comes to hard times. They are hard, sure, but I am swimming through them. The biggest difference for me now is that when hard times come around, I am capable of handling them. This is a defining trait in sobriety. Life is hard, but drinking was very hard. It is like living with our hands tied behind our backs. We give up our right to participate by forfeiting our state of mind. Quitting drinking will be difficult, and I am saying this twice so you will not forget it; Drinking is also very difficult. At least in sobriety we have a chance to actually participate and grow through life’s challenges. I believe the sensitive and vulnerable places in this life can strengthen our hearts to do the unthinkable, the unimaginable, and the impossible. Sobriety is possible. Even if you are unsure about what will happen, just know that I know it will be okay. Feel it all the way. It will not kill you. It will connect you. This is how we start living again. We can do this.
All of my love,
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