Nov 13, 2014

Water & Smoke

Spontaneous cries.  Ambiguous lies.  You find out your lover is addicted to heroin and gets your friends busted for dealing drugs.  Your home gets torn apart by criminal behavior while you’re away on holiday, and now you’re left alone in a foreign country.  

What do you do?  Go to a classy café for a delicious plate of spaghetti and an iced latte.  When your heart hurts, feed your taste buds, find pleasure in solitary expression and stimulate the mind with new tunes.

As a Nichiren Buddhist, I can easily tell the state of my life by the way that I chant.  Last night, I found myself distracted by tiny ants crawling on the tablecloth and the desire to pluck my eyebrows.  Today, after another evening staying up all night thinking, falling asleep for an hour, waking up to itchy new mosquito bites and a hungry one plunging at my face, I rose in the mid-afternoon and was able to chant with conviction, determination and focus. 

I took a cab to Kemang, cried a little in the backseat.  I gave my tears their desired release from my ducts, letting them fall for as long as they needed.  I was stranded by a storm.  The thunder and lighting clapped and roared.  I would’ve been intimidated if I didn’t spend a week in Chiang Mai on a street that sells explosives to children who play with them until 4am.  The ambience resembled a war zone, yet was somehow celebratory. 

I never smoked cigarettes before coming to Indonesia, save rare temptations when I was drunk enough.  In art school, I always wished I smoked, because there was a certain camaraderie between the people who did.  Even just for a couple minutes, they stood together, shared a lighter, enjoyed the legal high and exchanged some words.

While I still don’t consider myself to be a smoker, there is something very poetic about a cigarette.  For years, I’ve called it a time stick.  It’s a measurement of the passage of seconds.  Whether you inhale or not, it continues to burn, and there is a visible end.  Ashes decide to fall or continue to hold on.  I sit and watch the ribbons of smoke rise and disappear.

As an earth sign, I recognized in the jungle waterfalls of Doi Inthanon that I needed water.  I found comfort in its full-body embrace, immersing myself in the molecules entering my crevices and hugging my curves.  All the elements need the others, but at that present, this earth particularly needed water. 

A few days later, through the symbol of fire, I found an Aquarius in Bangkok- an air sign, but a bearer of water.  The Universe always grants us what we need, and what we ask for, but never in ways we can predict. 

A relationship came to a forcible end, but necessarily.  Bad habits and vicious cycles abruptly ceased.  I wanted space and time, and I got it.  I sought to perceive differently, and my new girlfriends took me to see Interstellar.

I appreciate the impermanence of things.  Some encounters are meant for a single influential night.  Other friendships last several lifetimes over.  The root of all suffering is the inability to accept this reality.  All things come to an end, including life as we know it.  Although we may not yet encounter our physical conclusion, we do endure numerous deaths- when our current state of life moves on to the next era.

I cannot rush; I should not hurry; I must not be anxious.  Everything has it’s time and place.  As I’ve written over and over, all we have is now.  Nothing lasts for longer than it needs to.  I do not mind repeating myself, because we need this reminder.  Force nothing, because the Universe will decide.

Humans are the only species on earth that consume in excess.  Too much of something is cancer.  The key is to maintain balance and to hear what your body asks for.  Never give in to addiction, whether that be to a substance or a person.

In my young adult life, I’ve never enjoyed restrictions.  I joined a hip-hop dance team when I was 21, but that didn’t last long, because I abhorred having to execute someone else’s style.  Commercial photography has been the same for me.  Some may consider it a bad thing, but I don’t.  Any constraint suffocates me.

I know that I have to do things when I want, how I want.  This is the answer to my personal happiness.  The truth is, I don’t even like wearing a bra anymore.  And thanks to my modest breasts, I don’t have to.  They stand on their own.

T-shirts in Thailand said “Same Same but Different.”  Such is the truth.  Everything, all elements, all beings are the same, but different.  All religions are different words for the same thing.

Life is constantly moving, evolving.  Out of no where, it can dissipate like smoke, but will continue to ebb and flow like water.

Tags life philosophy essay water smoke reblog