Thursday, January 6, 2011


On the 4th, a new moon and a solar eclipse and the final day of Old Christmas came together and pulled at me in an odd way. All week I'd been thinking about goals, and what constitutes a good life, and vocation (the writing of grad school application essays for Buddhist institutions will do that to a person). I felt, in this arbitrary 'new' year, as though something truly had changed. My vision seemed different. I had a sudden momentum toward something, a clarity of perception for my present circumstances that had gone missing for years.

That wonderful, simple ritual of writing lists for the new year-- things to draw toward oneself, things to cast off-- and then burning them-- seemed to fit. The list of things to cast off (a certain self-sabotaging belief that to live in poverty is noble, timidity, allowing my self to be circumscribed by others' needs and opinions) was predictably long. But the list I started to write afterward, a list of gifts 2010 brought me, was unexpected. It went on and on, flowing over onto the back of the page and then requiring a new one altogether. So many deep and altering experiences, so many new friends, so much new learning and openness and joy. And, having written that list, I found that the list of things I wished for in the year to come was correspondingly quite small. I wrote them out in detail---there were just three---and then sat back in the candlelight, astonished that so much that is essential has already been given to me.

It is easy to forget to be grateful. But what a beautiful life! Has anyone ever been so lucky, to have children that tell you the point of the universe and snow-covered mountains and rain-flooded creeks and a friend who feeds you lasagna and another friend who feeds you poetry, and free time, time to paint and write and garden in the sun, without fear of predators or guerillas or starvation. Has anyone else had such a loving and forgiving family, a fig and lemon tree in the backyard, a truly happy childhood filled with all the right questions and all the right teachers? has anyone had such illuminating mentors, such generous landladies, such thought-provoking professors?

I hope, actually, that all of us have. And suspect that, though the details may vary, all of our lives are filled with resounding beauty.

I trust, now, that there is a purpose for all that I have been given, that there is a specific service it has been preparing me to do. I trust this because I can sense myself moving toward it. I hope this newfound clarity continues, and that I can be brave and strong and persistent. The essentials are all taken care of: shelter, water, fire, food, love, belongingness. Now it's time to step up and start giving back.


  1. You are, indeed, lucky, and I feel lucky to hear your sage words!

  2. I feel like lucky, too. This feels like a post that could only come after "a slow day". I'm obsessed with your slow day. That kind of day allows for revelations in the days following, don't you think?