Updated usually on Mondays and/or Thursdays!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

ToT #2: U n' I(verse)

This is Dorothy in the Claremont village:

This is a map of the Greater Los Angeles area. Are those icons for bowls of noodles on the map? Heck yeah. Ramen is forever deserving of appreciation: 

This is Los Angeles in California:

This is California in the United States:

This is the United States in the world:
This is the world/Earth:

And these are snapshots of the universe all taken by the Hubble team at NASA {a universe where Earth is smaller than a mote of dust, yet so infinitely, impossibly, terrifyingly large to us}:
NASA's Great Observatories Examine the Galactic Center Region

Hubble M31 PHAT Mosaic 

Westerlund 2 Hubble image

I will not lie. I cried a bit when I saw these photos. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I meant to write a fitness post today. After years of intense academia and computer-reliant jobs, my body morphed into something I could only love with a twinge of regret. That bitter aftertaste of morning coffee, or the sort of searing ache that tears at your thighs after a marathon. It is not that I am not for body positivity--I am all for it, and that is exactly why I decided to take care of my health and log off the computer to do so. This summer, I am going to follow Cassey from Blogilates' fitness calendars. I'll try to document what I can and share with you my fitness journey, so that if you, like me, have perhaps forgotten the feeling of waking up with no back pain, no migraine, no lethargy so thick you can barely punch through it--you and I can go on this journey together.

But as I sat down to write the post, I realized I could not write about fitness today. There is something more pressing on my mind. Star-glazed. Reminiscent of dreams-crammed days.

I am an anxious person. Nervous, jittery, bubbling with something I cannot pinpoint--what I am trying to say is that I'm a bit wobbly. I am wobbly because I am angry at myself, and I am angry at myself because I feel guilt. I feel guilt because I feel like I am not enough. Once, I called the National Suicide Prevention Hotline on a day even chrysanthemum tea could not fix, and when the guy asked me what was troubling me, I told him I didn't feel good enough. For whom? He asked. 

Who don't you feel good enough for? 
What don't you feel good enough for?
Why aren't you enough?

I had no answer.
For myself? 

I suppose I was so stupidly privileged and felt so guilty because I have been so damn lucky, I am so damn lucky, yet I can't seem to be happy. Who the hell am I to deserve this snippet of happiness, when on a planet with more than 7 billion people I am so blessed yet also idiotic enough to not be able to just feel happy, because I can't think that I am the lucky one who should experience it?

I find solace in work. Work steals all your energy so that you can't think too hard about all the little stupid things you're doing. But I wake every morning and first read the news and I wake every morning and I am so angry and I wake every morning and I am so bitter and so paralyzed because there is always some injustice and there is always so little, I felt, that I could do about it. I couldn't even convince myself to soak up what I had. It is not that I am ungrateful, but rather that I feel undeserving, and I must do more and more to make up for this, to deserve some inkling of this, whatever this is.

My father grew up in a rural village in China, walking two hours to school, hiking up to mountain tops to carry down 100 kg of wood by himself many days when he was not even a teenager.

A panorama of my home village
When he turned eighteen, he was almost six feet tall, and he weighed less than 80 pounds.

Why am I telling you this?

To be quite honest, I am not very sure. I feel quite stupid writing this, actually, because I realize how paradoxical it can sound, and of course I wonder if any of this even means anything at all. But don't worry, I'm getting to the end, and I'm getting to the (hopefully) good part.

We are fragmented into so many different aspects. We don´t know who we really are, or what aspects of ourselves we should identify with or believe in. So many contradictory voices, dictates, and feelings fight for control over our inner lives that we find ourselves scattered everywhere, in all directions, leaving nobody at home.

Meditation, then, is bringing the mind home.

~Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

At a friend's prodding, I tried meditating. I am not very good at it. But it is a start, right? I tried introspection. I asked myself why I dripped with negativity, even if it was internally, especially if it was internally, a companion to my bloodstream.

Just this afternoon, I let myself slip into that realm again. Of despair and terror and guilt, so much guilt it is suffocating.

But here is the thing: 

I felt guilt because I wanted to be in control. I wanted to be in control of my circumstances, my genesis, my evolution, my gifts, my sins--

But there are so many things that are out of my control.

You have to let that control go.

I have to let that need for control go.

It is only when we confront the fact that 

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

that we can remember how absolutely beautiful the world is. Yes, it is littered with greed, scarred with hatred, bleeding from ignorance, but it is also so vast and eternal, and we are so small, we are so, so small, that how can we keep ourselves from being in awe at the utter elegance of it all? How do we speak without stuttering, how do we look without gasping, when we are alive in a world this powerful, this mysterious, this wise, this monumental? 

We are so small.

I find that comforting.

We are allowed to mess up, to be afraid, to tumble heart-first head-second into the craziest of things, to fall in love and out of love, to wear our hearts on our sleeves, to hide our hearts in a touring breeze... 

When we remember that we were not gifted control, and that indeed, control can be dangerous/unforgiving/toxic... we become more human, I think. We are visitors to a world brimming with beauty, and we should do our best to leave it better than how we found it. But that does not mean through self-destruction in an endless quest for control, because martyrdom's worth comes from utter dedication to the whole, utter self-effacement, and self-destruction is not self-effacement. It loses its ties with the whole. It loses you.

And while U n' I are more than welcome to be lost in this mammoth, this spellbinding universe--it is raw and so are its people, and that exposure of humanity is indelible--and while the need for control all the time is more than welcome to be lost, let us not ever,


         e    v    e     r

lose our |humanity|.*

*taken in absolute value because it's time we turn negativity into positivity. :)

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