Somewhere I Never Thought I’d Go

Writing this on my flight from DC to Tokyo. Isn’t that dreamy? In about 21 hours I will be in Thailand where I will be pushed into the culture, language, religion, and heart of a place that I know next to nothing about.

I’ve had a lot of anxiety leading up to this trip. Life has been so full of all the good and all the bad and all the in between. There is so much new in my life and it has been rubbing up against the old, and that doesn’t really feel that great. I imagine Thailand is going to feel that way too. I’ve never been to East Asia, and honestly, I’ve never wanted to go to East Asia. And yet, here I am.

This feels like the theme of my life lately. Doing things I never wanted to do or never thought I’d have the courage to do. Moving to New York was like that. Going to therapy was like that. Even, in its own way, falling for someone has been like that. And plenty of tiny things that are now part of my daily life are like that. I’m sure there are things like this for all of us, and it’s hard. There have been plenty of times where I refused to leave my apartment, skipped appointments, picked fights, and just generally closed off to anything that felt too different.

My fear is that I will build walls, shut doors, miss opportunities. In this trip to Thailand that is my fear. In my life back home that is my fear.

But I have learned (in therapy and elsewhere) that if I don’t at least attempt it, if I don’t open myself up to a new experience in love and light and adventure, than I am going to miss out. I will grow cold and hard and lonely. In Christianity we often talk about “looking for where God is already at work”. Buddhist monk Thich Naht Hanh would describe this as looking for the light in people, looking for the light in the experience or the moment. And as I’ve been pressing into this thought, I’ve begun to describe this as looking for love that exists around me. In a person’s eyes, in a father and daughter holding hands, in a group of friends laughing.

So I’ve made that my mission for my trip to Thailand, hoping it will become the mission of my life, a habit so engrained within me that it’s as natural as breathing. Each person in this world bears the image of heaven. Each person carries within their spirit pure and holy light. Each person has spaces in his/her heart still capable of giving and receiving love.

I am challenging myself even in this moment on an airplane to Tokyo to look for love. Even when I don’t feel like I carry it within me. Even when my heart is so tired and afraid. Even when I feel lonely and abandoned.

I will look for light and love in the spaces around me, in the people who I see only for a moment.

 

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