Lotus Flower

I did not choose to grow here.

I see myself as a displaced flower, uprooted before she was planted, a seed placed miles and miles away. I am, let’s say, a lotus flower. From a country far away. One day, I sprouted. Maybe under the sunny bright skies of California. Somewhere Western. And all I knew were the soil and skies and trees of a Western world.

And there were Western songs. And Western values. And Western foods that made people balloon and swell and topple over from heart disease. There were color coded hierarchies. And color embracing schools. There were plastered banners of ideals, never obtained, of bars that will never be reached. And there was money. Lots of money. Unevenly divided, but money, still. Oh, and shit-talking. Lots and lots of shit-talking. Because shit-talking was her prized possession baby.

She was theoretically free. She was chained by things that half of her would screech about.

This is Western air I breath. And Western words I write. My mind scrambles to translate to my mother tongue. I feel irritated when quizzed, scrutinized, over my minute vocabulary. I comprehend the way I read–vertically, in chunks, taking in the entire scene.

I did not choose to grow here. But I do so, begrudgingly, albeit mostly contentedly, because with physical comfort comes mental comfort. There is food to eat. And water to drink. And clean carpeted homes. And space, and clear blue skies.

But it is a hollow step-mother, a cutout adopted family, and this is Cinderella, couched in her stepmother’s magnificent home. It is lacking in significant ways. In this tiled gated home, ripe with waste and excess, I have no desire to engorge myself in deep fried meats. I have no desire to shoot a rifle. I have no desire to make silly clownish political statements, or yell, or scream. Where is everybody else? Where is the real food? Where is the real music? The real dancing? The culture, the culture?

And when I return to this home, a home I had never been, I feel the deepest, most explicable sense of home. How do you return home when you’ve never been? This, I realize, is biological. It’s deeper than simply sprouting where you are planted. It goes back seasons, centuries, for an environment to be just right for that particular plant–but I was uprooted, like so many others.

And I never assume that I am like them. Plants in the new environment, I mean. I can feign it–I speak it, and I most likely seem it, but it’s a facade. You can take an alligator out of a swamp, raise it in the desert, but it will always have been from a swamp, no matter what you tell it. You can brainwash it. You can tell her to participate in rituals of the patriotic. You can make her place her hand on this part of her chest, memorize poems about fabric, worship strangers of the dead. But it is all surface level, environmental. External. As internal as socialization can be.

No matter what anyone tells me, no matters what is shushed or socially right, nobody can convince me otherwise. She is a queen, a sleeping dragon. And I am convinced of it. I hope she breaths and flies and wakes soon. I have been planted alongside the fat rich happy little Western boar, who snores and powerfully kicks up mud when angered. There is not much that I can do. Because I did not choose to grow here.

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the things we can’t control

Some things in life we can control. And some things we can’t.

Things that fall into the former are tangible, goal-oriented. Things like hobbies and personal goals (diet, for instance) and academic goals and so on and so forth. Decisions we make. Decisions we’re able to make. And these decisions, consciously made, little by little, shape and frame our lives. We choose to read the book. We choose to say yes or no. We choose to use that extra hour sleeping in or working out.

But then there are the things we cannot control. They depend on luck. On chance. On however the universe, or God, or Buddha–or whichever belief you subscribe to–is feeling at that particular moment. These things are tied to the inexplicable. Sometimes they’re serendipitous. Other times, tragic. Love, and whether it is returned, and whether it even is. Illness. Lotteries. Birth lotteries–the families we are born into. The job. The dream job. The uncontrollable, inescapable circumstances that surround us.

When it comes to the former, I try to do my best. I set goals; I try to reach them. What’s within my control shouldn’t be handed off as a toy for “fate.” I’d rather not just wait and see the consequences of what I do. I’d rather be conscious of my decisions in the here and now. I review the material. I leave ten minutes earlier. I send the emails. I exercise, read, draw. Tangible. It’s all easier said than done, and maybe it’s more of a mentality than anything else. In psychology, it’s framed as an internal locks of control. I don’t let life happen to me; I make things happen.

But when it comes to the latter, to the things we cannot control, I try my best to let things be. Or, well–I try to let chance and fate intermingle. I cross my fingers and hope that the universe is feeling generous. Sometimes it is. And in those moments, things are easy. It’s not a battle between the heart and mind. It’s not wanting one thing but following another. It’s not an unrequited pursuit. The position, which I may have never considered before, is there. The feeling is there. The right person or people are there. It’s happens smoothly, effortlessly, in a slow moving cliche of puzzle pieces fitting together. These are not things I may have ever anticipated or hoped for. And yet they simply are, or will be.


It’s 1 in the morning, and I can’t sleep, and I’m aware I seldom write posts like these. At the same time, it feels necessary to articulate this feeling. A year ago, I felt similarly, but I wanted so desperately to be here. And here is a reflection, I guess, of my heart, and of the latter–“things you don’t quite control.” It feels like I am supposed to be here, in a strange metaphysical sense. It’s like deja vu, like I’m dreaming, like I’ll wake up to where I was 365 days ago, and this’ll all have been a mirage.

A Letter “On Kindness”

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Do you remember the time you were at Chipotle and you saw the lady with four children in tow and after ordering the food, four bowls total, she realized she didn’t have any money? And so you paid it for her?

And that was your kindness.

Obviously kindness, clearly kindness, without-a-doubt-kindness. As I read the poem by Aracelis Girmay titled “On Kindness”, I wondered about subtle forms of it, like when it isn’t just a hug or a peck or buying someone’s burrito bowls, but is, instead, your telling a wailing women you love her because she is yelling I want to kill myself I want to kill myself.

That love—that’s kindness too.

There are other forms of it that Aracelis Girmay writes about in her poem. The mail lady who says “hi baby” to you, and to the girl beside you, and to her cousin, and to her cousin’s best friend. The window that filters in light on a heady Sunday morning, reminding you have made it another day you’re alive you’re alive. The dog that comes panting up to you, looking overjoyed to see you, you, you—and that is kindness, too.

Disjointed

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In between ceramic tiles, I empathize with Murakami’s characters (disjointed, numb). I’m reminded of how disconnected I’d once felt, as if this was myself but somehow it wasn’t. I tossed and turned, ran through storms, writhed in bed. Wondered: and so how did she, this other self, feel? Because I felt nothing.

Between shallow breaths I remind myself to scale down. So I scale down. In a giant desert, I am box-like. I am a face of a salt crystal on a pink salt mountain. And collectively we are all salt grains tumbling through something vast and strange and inexplicable.

July 2016