On this night last year, I, along with other travelers, listened to a Dhamma talk inside a small Buddhist temple in the village of Pang Term in Samoeng, Chiang Mai. The talk was all about how life is both happiness and suffering, and how understanding and accepting that is the foundation of peace. In the morning, our host asked us to spend the entire day in silence and solitude, reflecting on our past and our future hopes to answer the question, “How do I live in an imperfect world with a calm mind and a peaceful heart?”
At the end of that day of silence and internal roiling, I felt so optimistic about 2015. But the past year did not at all go as serenely as I thought it would, with depression weighing the first half of the year, and busy-ness and anxieties the latter. Still, I think the year has been good for me–difficulties that may drive one to despair in the present always, for me, turn out to be invaluable experiences in hindsight. And though I’ve long realized that the key to feeling lighter is to keep letting things, people, places, even experiences go, I’ve learned this year that some things, while cumbersome or painful to carry, are so necessary to fully living and examining one’s life, thus making and remaking meaning for it, that to discard them would be as much of a folly as neglecting to bring a headlamp on a night trek in a densely forested mountain.
Thus, on this the last day of the year, and in the quiet moments of the preceding days, I thought about what I still carry, what kind of path I pave/tread with the choices I make every day, if the path I follow is the path I feel is right and purposeful for me, or if I’m just going where others think I ought to go, if my spirit is present where my body is present, or if it would rather be elsewhere. Though the pace of modernity is all about increasing acceleration, and social media afford us no end of means and images for comparison, I hope we find time and space to think about what all this hustle and bustle is for, what all the breathing and eating and shitting and fucking and sleeping and dreaming and laughing and crying is for, where we’re going, and why. Happy new year!
And because I don’t know how to write about all that’s happened to me lately, here’s MY 2015 IN BOOKS + READING GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR.