I’m glad to be writing to you this season. My favorite season of Fall, where everything in nature contracts and moves its essence inward and downward. We become more sensitive and attuned to our surroundings. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Autumn is the season of metal. The emotion connected with Metal is grief or sadness. “In Autumn we are saying farewell to the abundance of summer and preparing for the reflective time that is to come. Metal connects us with the ability to let go of the past and create the space for the new.”
It’s been five years since I wrote a love letter for Baum-kuchen. Five years since the death of my dad. Five years of trying to rein in and grasp the particles of my fragile, grieving being that exploded wildly and without direction. Five years of my healing journey.
For a long time, I thought ‘moving,’ would heal and cure-all. Moving my body. Moving my mind. Moving away from people. Moving allows you to slip away from moments that trigger pain. I moved to Oakland from Los Angeles and worked at my job with feverish focus while investing every particle of my being in a singular relationship that I knew would hurt me, and eventually cease. I learned that while ‘moving’ brings temporary relief (which sometimes you need), it doesn’t actually solve the source of our pain, it merely masks the symptoms, and in many ways compounds the pain into a bigger wound. I imagine I would have continued on this path for a long while, if it weren’t for my body sending a sharp message to stop and slow down. One day, last year, my physical body suddenly became immobile and exploded into severe pain. My body was full of imbalance, and the recovery forced me to rethink my priorities and my current paths. It shook me up in a big way, and it showed me the deeply intertwined roots between our emotions, our spirits, and our physical bodies and the importance of harmony, balance, and connection. I will be forever grateful for the wisdom of our bodies, which exist in all of us if we listen.
When Wakako approached me about contributing to BK’s newsletter this month, I felt hesitant and unsure about what to write. My immediate feelings were of worry and fear. Fear that things haven’t changed so much. Maybe I felt scared that I hadn’t measured up to the idealized future version of me. That perhaps, I’ve failed myself and the people around me, and that the tiny insecure self that I thought was squashed somewhere along the way, continue to breed. Maybe I felt shame to still feel the same heartaches and pains that never went away. I see these fears, and I hear them loudly. Fear comes in many shades, and consistently reappear as we go through life. But despite it, I find myself today feeling a different kind of peace. I work on not letting fears dictate the way I want to glide through life. Knowing well that my fears too are a part of me and my healing process. And that the complex feelings of pain, joy, suffering, delight, etc. can co-exist together dynamically within us.
These past five years have been a slow, burning walk towards my present self. Pushing aside the tight fisted clutch on my past, and the future version of me. An arduous quest to find healing, laughter, vastness, radical love, spaciousness, and freedom. To cultivate the magical spells that would allow me to counter my fears, and move through this world with flowing qi. Maybe we break and heal and break all over again as reminders that we are on borrowed time, and that there’s no better day than today to give ourselves the tender love, care, and healing that we deserve. How wonderful, the ebb and flows, and the cycles of expansion and contraction to teach us how to reconnect with ourselves and find meaning. To remember to forgive ourselves. To remember that we are needed, we are worthy, and we deserve gentleness and compassion. To remember that everyone around us needs the same.
In my many healing paths, I have found tending to the earth to be the most grounding and viscerally healing. As I was recovering my health, I spent a couple of hours at a farm, just north of San Francisco. Every week I drove an hour to put my hands in the soil. Angrily at first. I planted and handled the soft, rich soil with roughness, and focused on getting to the end of the task. One day, I remember observing my friend tending to the earth while I was taking a break from the heat. There was a gentleness to the way she touched the earth that made me step back. I was surprised at the differences I saw in the way we held and transplanted a seedling into the garden bed. It was a small but big ‘aha’ moment. As time passed, I learned that the way we treat the Earth is a reflection of how we treat ourselves and the people around us,— a mirror image. The kind of intentionality, love, and energy we devote to something, is what we receive back as nourishment,— reciprocity. A relationship between the self and the world. As we work to heal the earth, the earth in turn heals us in many ways…
…It shows us that we can grow and change.
…It provides us with physical nourishment
…It connects us with our roots
…It teaches the importance of respect and reciprocity
…It recognizes abundance and gratitude
…It reminds us that we are all part of a complex ecosystem, and we are also responsible for its transformation.
…It continues to tell us stories and share all its deep ancestral wisdom (but only if you listen).
Working with plants and the earth has made me look within, but more importantly, it urged me to look outwards. My journey has shown me that healing requires understanding that we are part of a larger whole, and an important part of self-healing comes, also, from caring for people and the environment around you. Caring for others is also a true act of caring for yourself,— to be able to push past our own individualism for a more loving, and collective mindset.
As we approach this season of reflection, with all the uncertainties that surround our current lives, I wish you well on your own healing journey by looking inwards, but also with a gentle insistence to look outwards at the people and community around you. They are also a reflection of you, in all its pain and blessings. I leave you with this small “Braiding Grass” excerpt by the ever-wise Robin Wall Kimmerer:
“The trees act not as individuals, but somehow as a collective. Exactly how they do this, we don’t yet know. But what we see is the power of unity. What happens to one happens to us all. We can starve together or feast together.”
With all my love to you,