you can. i gotta keep telling myself.
yesterday, i turned 36 and took a stroll around the city as i have over my last few birthdays. people watching, practicing mindfulness, popping into shops, and eating some great food along the way. the simple things that allow presence and gratitude fill me up.
after a beautiful lunch honoring south asian women, i walked into the lush and wonderfully curated rizzoli bookstore. almost immediately, i became emotional; all the books were people’s stories and hearts all around me— all the labor, love, tenderness, pain, fervor, triumph, quirks and imperfections of all these human journeys. all these individual truths laid out to be witnessed.
it felt sacred. i found my fingertips grazing the covers, soaking in the simple profundity of this recognition and reality; wanting to intentionally sit and be with all that was in front of me.
one of the first titles i stopped to pick up was dark money by jane mayer— a book that had been recommended to me about a year ago when canvassing for the midterm elections. it’s about how a few billionaire families have been puppeteering american politics and what we should know + perhaps do about it. that shit heavy.
as i was putting that book down, a guy walked up and reached around me to drop back a book he had been browsing— homo deus by yuval noah harari, a renowned oxford educated historian. harari’s titles had also been recommend to me, one of which happens to be the top book reco of mark zuckerberg and bill gates. homo deus, which postulates on the future of humanity, is the second in a triology— first is sapiens, a history of humanity, and third is 21 lessons for the 21st century, a prescription for moving forward in light of the dystopia harari predicts and maps out in homo deus. based off the book jacket, let’s just say that the future feels awful bleak and inhuman.
i felt myself buzzing and lightheaded, hoping to take flight outside of my body somewhere— a place where i didn’t need to make sense of things.
i generally try to shield myself from consuming much at all about the state of the world because it quite literally makes it near impossible for me to function. i largely know what i need to know about what’s fucked up. i’d like to focus on the part where we heal it.
my disembodied frame is standing at a display table in the middle of the bookstore. who knows where we will end up. we might perish soon. i don’t know why, but i figure i should probably try to keep hope.
i compose myself the best i can and tell myself that though i’m falling out, the wisdom of this heralded historian is likely worth the strife to arm myself with the knowledge i need for the fight ahead. i make note to start reading sapiens soon.
i scoot over one or two display tables away. i see oprah’s new book, the path made clear. i remember hearing an audio preview of the book on her podcast and feeling like i could personally do without it. the cover looked corny. nonetheless, i cracked it open to ‘see what this thing was talking about.’
i realized that the book isn’t just about life in general, but it’s about identifying and living your purpose with wisdom, insights, and advice— a companion for the various hurdles along this path. these bits are pulled from oprah’s interviews with successful folks over the years. trying to clarify and figure out how to live my purpose has been the prime focus of my life for the last 3-5 years.
i thumbed through the chapters, doing an extremely cursory skim to get a better feel of what the book was trying to do, and perhaps benefit from an insightful quote or two. i started finding bits that hit and knew this book would be peppered with reminders i really need during this time in my life. i began tearing up. then i found a phrase that almost mirrored the title of a podcast i’ve been meditating on creating for about a year, and that i’ve begun to give more serious attention to in recent weeks.
i was now on the verge of melting into a puddle of tears in the middle of the bookstore. tears streamed down my face and as i sniffled, i felt the security walk away from near me to give me some privacy.
i was crying, first, at the divine orchestration that led me to open up the book despite my initial disinterest. second, and more searingly, i was crying at the contrast of hope and despair i’d experienced just moments apart.
to traverse this wide span of converse emotion in such a short timeframe had me shook; what a wild array of stuff life is.
i came to some conclusions.
i don’t know anything, but i know that a courageously open heart will always win. in light of a dystopian future that might or might not be out of our hands, i believe that love counts for something significant no matter what ultimately happens. it does lighten the load to believe that our bodies are just one piece of the universal puzzle of consciousness.
i am thankful for the reminder of the preciousness of life; to take each moment, each sensation that we are gifted to be able to perceive as a privilege and blessing.
i endeavor to be here, actually here, the best i can with whatever i am given; to allow myself space, freedom, and permission to just be in the world with no agenda, no plan, and no to do list— on a regular basis. to exist in gratitude and intention and fullness in every moment.
in fearing for the future of material existence, i somehow can’t help but be shaken into a piercingly clear recognition of how lucky i am to be here. i consciously receive this existence. thank you. i accept the privilege of honoring this body, this planet, and its inhabitants while i’ve got em <3