I feel like we’ve all said this three years in a row, but…it’s been a long year.
Less loooong than the last few years, but still painful, humbling, punishing, isolating…if all mostly in an ultimately helpful way.
And so it is that I welcome the return of the sun, and that most celebratory of Buddhist holy-days, Midsummer’s Day—when the light has stretched hot days wide open and cold evenings recede.
It’s been a year in which I’ve learned that losing things isn’t bad. That being humbled makes me smarter. That true friends—who tell you what they think, are there for you when no one else is, and, most importantly, will tell you when you have food on your face—are among the most precious assets in this crazy, sad, yet wonderfully ordinary world.
It’s been a year during which I’ve remembered the joys of traveling. Travel reminds us of who we are, stripping us to the essentials: our hearts bared, our minds made open. At 36 years old, I’ve still never been out of the US, with the exception of Halifax and Montreal. Still, these last few months, I have been rocked by Coachella, met fellow living scrapers at 5Point, seen the transformation of NYC into a bicycle and pedestrian-friendly community, the result of overfishing in Halifax, and mountaintop removal in Virginia. I’ve seen local, organic and vegan foods available more widely everywhere I’ve gone, and the spread of café culture—we may think nothing’s happening behind those laptops, but in between moments of work and getting coffee, conversations and connections bloom.
Over the last six months, I’ve suffered through the most…epic…breakup of my life. And during that time I’ve depended on just a few things: a few good friends—Jesse, Corey, Rose, Peggy, Bobby, Ryan, Steve, Dave, Dave, Lindsey, Lindsey. Community. Sunshine and exercise (getting out with my dog, Red; yoga with Billy; climbing; my daily commute). Frank, and Dan. Mom. And, most of all, through the gift that is meditation, making friends with my deep, cool loneliness, and coming back from a tortured mind and heart to the present moment, again and again. Because life isn’t naturally stressful, depressed and crazed with craving, aggression and ignorance (the three root neuroses of ego, in the Buddhist tradition). The world is naturally just as it is: magical, in the most ordinary way.
As Lincoln reminded us, this too shall pass. And, as Buddhism reminds us, life’s challenges (to put it politely) teach us something, and can make us gentler warriors.
So that’s my story, in the most general terms. But the magic of the internet is that this is a conversation. Tell your story by commenting here, or emailing us and writing an article about your past year—what you’ve gone through, generally, and what you’ve learned.
Monika Carless is a globally published author, certified holistic nutri…