I give the ease in my body space to enjoy the bird calls coming from the three pines. A plane hums overhead. Genmaicha in my cup. The air is cool and wet and sweet with the smell of burnt wood. A leaky spigot goes off nearby while a sparrow hunts in the shadows for acorns. My father arrives briefly to troubleshoot and resolve. The lemon tree is heavy with unripe fruit. The Japanese maple tree is dying.

Ease in this body being with the earth. The soft container of air and wind lightly holding me. The sun unseeable yet casting its warmth. I am here alone inhabiting this body of ease. A fire is emerging in my belly — churning, digesting. It is uncomfortable but not unbearably so. I breathe into the fire, rocking from my core, allowing the heat to spread up into my chest, my beating heart. My lungs are the wind feeding the fire. My body rooted in earth is suspended in fire, caught in two truths, maybe more. I am solid. I am flow. I am on fire with the beauty of my own voice.

There is no going back now. My body is trembling in the recognition of my own aliveness: tingling, shaking beautiful aliveness that will not turn back to life half-lived. I am committed to living fully in authenticity and wonder, to acting in harmony with my own body and heart even when I must face the darkness to do so. I am past the point of no-return. And what would I be returning to? A life of half-hearted experience chosen for perceived safety — in money, prestige, and a community in which to belong?

To return is to try to escape the fear of being alone, stepping into the stream of what society deems is “good enough”, “successful”, “valuable”. It is to look for my value outside of myself. It is to play into the held belief that only by giving up who I am will I find myself loved and valued by others.

To abide in my truth is to stop running from my loneliness: to recognize that I, like all human beings, am alone in my human body. To know I am capable of standing in the darkness of this recognition. To observe with patience and ease the impermanence of loneliness as it shifts, and to welcome loneliness again in its return.

In this backyard where I sit, there was once a sandbox in the shape of a frog. There was a playground and red rubber ground laid to ease the child’s fall. Now there is only stone and concrete, emptiness the only sign that children once played here.

I once played here, marching on the hillside gathering stones, looking for gems. My father once crouched for hours as the catcher while I practiced my softball pitch. Here in the grass my brothers and I danced playing soccer, there is where the neighbor boy got pushed into the pond. The many pieces of me that live here reside still in my memory and body.

I remember lunchtime in middle school, not knowing how to contribute to a dialogue about Gilmore Girls and the boys around us. Residing in a foreign body — tall and awkward and acne-prone — in a landscape of friends, other "smart" kids, the "popular" crew. Writing poetry (and one novel!) during the summers, crafting in short stories the kind of love I imagined for myself: kind, intertwined, explorative. The newspaper I edited, “Macur Madness”, with the support of my favorite language arts teacher. The many creative pieces of my soul that have emerged now as bright and brilliant flowers.

I want to tell that child sitting alone at the lunch table, surrounded by friends: Be patient, my child! Look at the life we will create. It will be a wild and colorful garden, we will wander continents and reside in new countries and make friends of all kinds that share our values and curiosity. We will love others, and be loved, and build beautiful things in our creativity and resolve. We will discover a faith and set of ethics that truly resonates with us. We will be brave and honest again and again, even when it’s hard. We will be alone at times, and lonely too, and there will be moments of incredible joy and faith and completion that are worth fighting for. Worth living fully in our truth for.

Dear child, I am so proud of the person you are and will become. In being you, you have given me the possibility of being me. Please have faith and be patient with us. This future is worth it.

You will play soccer again with young kids in a refugee camp in Bethlehem, kicking a plastic water bottle in lieu of a ball. You will dance again, in a yurt planted firmly in the California forest, alongside friends and teachers. You will pitch again — this time, ideas and companies instead of softballs — and some of your ideas will change lives. You will become your own teacher, publish your own newsletter, inspire your own projects.

And you will find many more lunch tables at which you are not alone, even in silence. Where the vegetables in the bowl were harvested by the hands of your community just hours ago, where the chair on which you sit was lovingly arranged by a friend yesterday. You will be alone, and not alone, and capable of being in both.

You are worth fighting for.

Live your truth, my dear child, my dear adult self. When you need to differentiate or fit in because you feel lonely, see if you can step more fully into the great ocean body of your truth. Swim in it. Revel in it. You are enough. Let your truth shine through you touching every continent, every body of water, lighting the way forward.

“I am not here to tie you down, just to help you fly.”

“I am already flying, dear Melanie. Help me to remain in a state of ease among the clouds.”