Dear one, sink into the spring of healing. Slowly bathe this body in intimacy, soft fingertips caressing scalp so tenderly we weep. Hands ripple like waves over forehead, our father’s brows, down temples aching with exhaustion, anger, grief. Gently immerse neck and shoulders, sighing, letting each movement be pleasure. On this back are scars from acne and mosquito bites. Welcome them gently with the warmth of awareness. Go ahead – begin this ritual of returning to wholeness.
Cradle the soft curve of belly, swelling from weeks of ancestral foods – shumai dumplings, jook porridge, mochiko chicken. Presence the heart, womb, and sex. Rock the hips, noticing slight turns of the thighs and knees, the muscles as they tighten and release. Legs anchoring this body to earth, ankles and feet that flex with ease. Offer gratitude to this body in whatever condition it may be.
Today is the first day of a new year. On this new day, I call you home to this body. Bask in the resilience that resides in your deepening breath, the contact of feet on steady earth. Touch the fortitude that got you up and functioning most mornings, the hands that held your loneliness tight. And if and when you're ready, emerge from hibernation into the wonder and joy that is your birthright.
This morning, you woke from slumber to a bright new day. The farmer's market was canceled, so you wandered the empty plots of your favorite vendors, imagining the brewing Ethiopian coffee, stone fruits in summer, persimmons and pomegranates in fall, the surprise of sweet strawberries in winter. Reflecting on the passing of the seasons, honoring the possibility of what is to come.
This March, after two months of interviewing, you accepted a job offer from a tech nonprofit that aligns with your values and mission. You started work on the same day Uncle Eric died from organ failure, a week after an anti-Asian hate crime killed six Asian women in Atlanta, days after reciting your first spoken word poem at a Sit Walk Listen gathering honoring Asian women. I bow to your ferocity and to the communities that helped you to survive this period of grief and rage.
At Code for America you work alongside colleagues with big hearts and progressive visions of racial equity. Colleagues that believe in a collective ability to actualize systems change in government and aren’t just “in it for the money”. This work has challenged you to be vulnerable and go deep, even when that means “breaking the peace”. You’ve deepened your capacity to listen to and hold multiple truths. You’ve learned to be creative and to follow your intuition in an environment that is as structured as you let it be.
In March, you were privileged to receive two Covid-19 vaccines – enduring chills, fever, and body aches for days – and could venture safely out of isolation. I am thankful to the scientific and medical communities that made vaccines possible, and acknowledge the disparities in vaccine distribution that prioritized wealthy countries like the United States and left others without access to supply, perpetuating ongoing inequities in resource allocation.
In July, you moved to a one-bedroom apartment in Oakland, a few blocks from Lake Merritt and a rose garden sunken into the Piedmont hills. In just a few months, you’ve settled into home and place in a way that this wandering heart didn’t realize was possible – a standing desk and ergonomic chair, a quality mattress, art and books everywhere, a fresh Christmas tree for the very first time.
In November, you stood alongside Ellen and Earl as they took marriage vows, in a cathedral with windows open to the grey city of San Francisco. At their reception, you offered a spoken word poem as your maid of honor speech, touching the joy of poetry as performance. In parallel, you tried to stand alongside a friend suffering from addiction, touching your own struggles with mental health.
I am grateful for your efforts to build community in the midst of an isolating pandemic. This year, you began Qigong practice at an East Oakland park, and have found yoga for people of color at the lake. You’ve finished a third beginner's pottery class in Potrero Hill in San Francisco. And you continue to take refuge in spiritual friendship with the New Gen, Wake Up, Sugarplum, and Morning Birds sanghas.
Last night, during a New Year's Eve half-day sit, Reverend angel Kyodo williams asked the community to step into wholeness. To stop waiting for external conditions to claim who we are. I've done a lot of waiting this year – for the end of the pandemic, for a long-term partnership, for my scars to fade, for a salary increase at work. As this new year begins, I will stop waiting for external conditions to actualize the dreams I have for myself.
I will take responsibility for my aspirancy to the Order of Interbeing, not letting doubt or fear of disappointment prevent me from deep study of Buddhism and spiritual growth.
I will take care of my own financial stability and wellbeing, not waiting for the next salary increase or promotion to be more diligent about budgeting and expenses. I will explore new income streams to supplement my nonprofit salary, and I will consider buying a house or duplex in Oakland.
I will practice love and acceptance for my blood family, not waiting for things to change to touch forgiveness and letting go. I will own my longing for motherhood, not waiting for long-term partnership to research fertility options.
I will play, allow for spontaneity, and build in-person community – finding ways to stay safe and make friends during the pandemic.
I will take care of my mental health, investing in my own healing. I will find a therapist with whom I can hold and process my grief and trauma. I've asked my parents for financial help in affording therapy, recognizing the limits of my own income. Accepting their help is a step towards wholeness and recognizing my interconnection to others.
I will own my deep love of poetry and prose, my curiosity for spoken word. I will not wait to write until I am on pilgrimage or sabbatical. I will create the conditions for poetry – spaciousness, nature, wonder, play, stillness – and return home to who I am, without apology. I will show up for consistent writing practice by myself and in community, and will work on my craft in classes and by reading a diversity of poets and authors. I will find ways for my words to create change.
As Reverend angel said in her talk, “We can mature into beings that have earned the right to be here, by choosing to be fully responsible for ourselves – not blaming or pointing fingers at others. We can allow ourselves the space, allow the love, allow the risk-taking. There is no need to hold anything back. This is what I wish for everyone I love.”
That is what I wish for you, dear one. Do not hold anything back in this moment, for it is the only one you’ll ever have. I love you and send my wishes for the kind of peace that allows the present moment to always be enough.
January 1, 2022