Saying yes to life

There’s a line in the Heart Sutra: When there are no more obstacles in the mind, you overcome all illbeing.

Suffering is, because there is no clarity on the nature of interbeing. When I see my teacher in all things, I do not fear missing his physical body. He is here and not here, and is coming and going. I am stuck in the relative truth of being and non-being, and this perception fuels my fear of abandonment and pain.

In the relative truth, I am sometimes paralyzed by the risk of loss — of being hurt and left alone, of damaging my ego. I ignore my body’s intuition and let fear constrict my sense of self-worth. I say no when my heart yearns to say yes unguardedly, I say yes when my body is already bracing for anxiety. I want to follow the truth of my body even when it’s incredibly dark and scary — especially when it is. I want to start saying yes to life out of a deepening recognition of interbeing.

I arrived in Hue on a Sunday evening and Thay was not there. Anger and sorrow arose in me, mostly at myself.

Why did I wait this long to come to Hue? I may never see Thay in person now, never satisfy my irrational craving to ground my spiritual practice in the presence of one human body. Why am I here, if Thay is gone?

The silence of that evening in the little house across from the monastery hit me.

This is it.

Life is short. If not now, when will I choose happiness? When will I say yes to love and growth, despite fear of abandonment and loss? If not now, when?

Sure, I can ponder, calculate, wait until a more convenient time — but that time may never come. I can’t rewind the clock to catch Thay before his stroke, or to see him in person in Hue. I can’t go back to tell Scott how much I loved him, or to date the girl I thought was cute. I cannot redo the times that I failed to live on the edge of my being. This is it.

In the darkness of the morning after Christmas, high on matcha tea, I declare the following.

I am saying yes to moving home to California to be with my family. To catch my mom’s ham soup and my dad’s tech wizardry. To tutor my brother Ryan in computer science. To play board games with my brother Daniel, to visit my aging grandparents. Why wait to come home until my parents are old and brothers no longer in Pleasanton? I belong at home now — in spite of conflict, fear, my work in Jerusalem.

I am saying yes to starting my education tech company in Palestine. Yes, I will turn this fledgling dream into a living, breathing entity. I will stop doing work for free to make this venture sustainable. I will pay good salaries to employees in Palestine. I will allow myself to succeed without letting those voices in my head convince me to reconsider my worth. Yes, I am valuable, I can work remotely, I can build this product, I can lead. I will no longer let insecurity cloud my vision or usurp my energy — I say yes to the clarity of this vision and the strength of my partnership.

I am saying yes to saying no, to all forms of work and engagement that do not serve me. To allow the wisdom of my body to decide. Too often I’ve ignored constriction in my stomach and persistent anxiety in my mind, let their warnings pass unheeded. I am done with ignoring my body to serve others.

I will not chase clients, partners, or friends. I will not invest money or time if I am not met with mutual investment. My energy is sacred — I will not spin my wheels trying to help others if they do not step forward to help themselves. I will not carry the burden of a community or people alone.

I am saying yes to stepping into my own power. I will take responsibility for my emotions and thoughts and not expect the actions of others to take care of my own pain. I am done looking to others to tell me I am safe, loved, valued. I will embody these qualities in my own body, and from this embodiment I will know.

I am done taking responsibility for the emotions of others. For those I care about and want to invest in, I will look to make agreements for interactions based in mutual love, respect, and openness. Without one-sided expectation for behavior.

I am saying yes to Mariposa, to my teacher Joann, to my friends on the path, to Leo. I am saying yes to spiritual practice, creativity, and joy, to waking before dawn to meditate, to life lived in community. To farming, gathering clay from the earth, making pottery. To play. To art, silence, staying in one place long enough to fall in love. To wandering enough to realize how little you know. To cultivating patience and openness — recognizing that being right isn’t always the right path. To letting the truth of interbeing be my guide.

I am tired of waiting for the perfect moment, perfect person, perfect place to start living. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I refuse to keep comparing myself to others — this is my life, built on solid values and a curious heart. I plan to celebrate, rather than beat myself up for not meeting someone else’s expectations.

I’m moving home and going to invest in a place without a committed relationship. I’m going to find a job in California while working remotely part-time for my startup in Palestine.

I am going to declare exactly what I want — and then I’m going to do those things. Not out of arrogance, but out of clarity and purpose. Out of a realization that this life is sacred, impermanent, and there are no promises. I must stand for the things I dream of. If not me, who will?

This is it. I commit to taking risks to love, to coming home after wandering, to changing what feels stuck. To play, to dance, to live on the edges of my being. To saying goodbye to stagnation in friendship and in myself. To stepping into growth and the places I fear. I will not turn away from the truth, Melanie. Even when it may bring pain or sorrow.

To myself this is the brightest expression of love.

This is it.