An annual love letter to myself

Dear one,

It is time to lay your body down to rest. Offer your torso and legs a bed of wildflowers, your head a soft pillow of grasses. Nearby invite the lichen and mushrooms to hum a quiet winter song: the song of the moss covering the oak trees, the newly running river, the red grey bridge seeing all. It has been a long year.

I am with you. I will be your companion in all seasons, as the spring brings with her the blossoming almond trees and golden red maple leaves, and the summer beckons with strawberries and days ripe for swimming. I am always with you, even when the shadow of loneliness is upon you, even when your heart breaks and breaks again. In this sacred body, there is home.

In this new year, come home to yourself, dear one, deepen in intimacy with your curves and crevices. Look not outward to satisfy your longing for understanding and care. First, come home to the deepest wells of compassion and joy within you. Remember to drink from these cool and refreshing wells, in ritual and song, dance and art. Nourish yourself with your own gifts and beauty. You are capable of finding wonder in the simplest of joys. Let those be enough.

If there is to be partnership, may it emerge in stillness, ease, the kind of gentle love that allows another to be as they are. Settle in your own body enough to receive love from others, finding each offering to be bountiful, wonderful, enough.

If anger arises — which if I am to be honest it will and must — bow to its presence, learning in its rage the ways of calming and soothing. Bow too to your fear, grief, disappointment, and longing; each has something to teach and to say. May you find healing every time you stop to listen.

May you aspire to a more beautiful and just world for all future generations. Find creative, necessary work with people that are kind and wise. Learn from mentors and guides on paths of peace-building and social justice. Inhabit a simple home, close to the earth and beloved community. Invest money and resources in long-term, sustainable projects run by and for the people you’d like to help. Divest from companies and projects that prioritize economic profit over people and the earth. Question capitalism. Remember that right livelihood will be of benefit to you, your communities, and the earth: true symbiosis.

I bow to your efforts creating an inclusive, fully accessible school, open to all Palestinian young people. I celebrate the bilingual, joyful graduation of 26 students from Makeen Initiative’s first Tech for Good program — and the subsequent funding from the U.S. State Department for future cohorts of students. I am deeply inspired by your work building ways of working together that empowered your team across continents and culture.

I recognize the many conditions that have brought you home to this oak forest in California. The pandemic extending from Asia into the Middle East, the ensuing quarantines and border closures between Israel and Palestine, the fear and racism targeted at Asian-looking bodies. After months of waiting for an Israeli visa, you are fortunate to have made it back to the states in March 2020 — on the last flight out of Tel Aviv. I marvel at your resilience and adaptability in the midst of uncertainty and panic.

I am thankful for the many communities that have formed in quarantine: the new friends gathering in virtual space to study trauma and somatics, earth justice, and fierce vulnerability. To cultivate stillness and to protect democracy. I am thankful for the communities that gathered on the streets after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, in the midst of wildfires and the pandemic, because Black Lives Matter. I am proud of your work with Sit Walk Listen and am eager to see what emerges. Go slowly, keep an open heart, ground your work in joy and practice.

I am thankful for the little sparks of joy reminding you of what is possible. Introducing Orjwan to Paris in one perfect day, ending in jazz at a tiny bar near Notre Dame. Your first time making the first move in a romantic relationship. A road trip winding through the redwood forest. The wonder of opening your eyes after crashing a car into a tree to find that you were alive. Loved ones showing up after the car crash, offering burritos, medicine, staying up with you when you were afraid of the shadows at night.

You are a wonder, dear Melanie. I honor the many forms you have taken in changing circumstances over this past year. At the same time, I caution: do not get stuck in any one narrative of who you are. You are a being constantly in movement, a monarch butterfly, changing, transforming, falling. Remember that in each moment the body lying in the bed of wildflowers dies to this life, and another being arises in her place — fresh, awake, with tiny flowers falling from her hair. Who will she be?

I love you and send my deepest wishes for joy, companionship, and presence in this new year.

January 3, 2021