Can A Buddhist Celebrate Easter?

For me, Easter symbolizes rebirth, just as Christians celebrate it for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter was named for a Saxon goddess known as Ostara (Oestre/Eastre), who was a symbol of the dawn and the spring. In ancient times, eggs were a potent symbol of fertility and often used in rituals. To this day, rural midwives – such as those in the Appalachian Mountains – embrace this philosophy by predicting the sex of an unborn child by dangling the egg from a string over the belly and watching the rotation. For centuries and across many cultures, decorated eggs have been tokens to wish for prosperity and abundance in the coming year.

 

Easter has rooted itself deep in my chest as my favorite holiday. Do you know that feeling as you walk out to witness the first snowfall of the year? It is the loudest calm I have ever heard. For a moment, I find myself holding my breath in the wake of the quiet stillness, witnessing a transcendental display of the turning of another new page in the year. To me, Easter symbolizes another turning page: awakening the new year. It’s the first sunny day after a long, cold winter: where people come pouring from their houses to fill the streets of the city. This is my New Year – buzzing with life and growth, emerging from winter and budding towards the sun.

 

il_570xN.334268007.jpg

Advertisements

The One Percent.

“When you want to succeed

as bad as you want to breathe,

then you will be successful.”

Welcome to the Grind.

You’re hungry for it.

You’ll sacrifice that party.

You’ll sacrifice your cell phone, your social media, your ego.

You’ll sacrifice sleep.

You’ll sacrifice time.

You’ll sacrifice comfort.

You’ll sacrifice what everyone else considers “normal”.

You’ll sacrifice where you are right now,

for who you will become later.

“For what is each day but a series of conflicts between the right way and the easy way,

10,000 streams fan out like a river delta before you, Each one promising the path of least resistance.

Thing is, you’re headed upstream.”

FullSizeRender

Tumble, Anyway.

I fear the unknown. My summer research project, for which the funding and IRB are not established, send a heavy pit into my stomach. A medical research trip, by myself, trip to rural India paralyzes me in fear. The complete ignorance of everything I must tackle on my own creates a violent drum in my chest: obtaining a visa, the correct vaccinations, traveling through Mumbai alone. The expansive unknowing of extracurriculars I should be doing, leadership positions I should be tackling, applications I should be submitting.

Then I realized: each unknown variable is a plea for personal expansion and growth. To plunge forward in something so entirely foreign to you would provide more growth and learning that you can even imagine. These are the experiences that push you farther than you’ve ever known, because they are nothing like you’ve ever experienced. You have the tools to conquer them. These are the ambiguous obstacles that could initiate life-altering shifts, if you accept the opportunity. You have the chance to decide to embrace that fear and allow it to surge through the marrow of your bones. Recognize it as opportunity, excitement, and a privilege.

FullSizeRender

Only When It Is Dark.

Questions I missed on yesterday’s exam. Checking boxes, doing laundry, washing dishes. Collecting stress in imagination about the future. Measurements of a prom dress. Mundane letters on a cell phone screen.

 

Stepping foot in the familiar aquamarine sterility of the Neuro ICU. Seeing that familiar face, obscured by an unfamiliar shaved head and tubes pouring out of him. Lives halted, with the rugs ripped out entirely from beneath their feet.

 

It could happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter how you always wear your helmet or buckle your seatbelt. It doesn’t matter that you always hand bills to the man standing on the corner, or that you are kind and compassionate.

 

Life hangs on a thread.

 

When it sways, you are reminded. When you see another’s string snap, you are reminded.

 

But it’s the ordinary days when we forget. Life will tug at us, but then it always releases and our days continue.

 

Until we are reminded.

“You cannot imagine the acrobatics your tongue mechanically performs in order to produce all the sounds of a language. Just now I am struggling with the letter l, and the exhausting exercise leaves me feeling like a caveman discovering language for the first time. Sometimes the phone interrupts our work, and I try to intercept and catch passing fragments of life, the way you catch a butterfly.

How dearly I would love to be able to respond with something other than silence to these tender calls. I know that some of them find it unbearable. Sweet Florence calls and anxiously asks me, “Are you there?”

And I have to admit, that at times I do not know anymore.”

-Jean-Dominque Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Embers From A Cracked Gem.

You can ruin your life without even knowing it. You begin sinking so slowly you don’t even realize it.

FullSizeRender-16

This Spring Break has been one for the books. In the back of my head, I thought to myself, “this is my last Spring Break ever“. You’d think I’d be sinking my toes into warm, crisp sand or raising my glass for another round or tumbling down cobblestone streets in a foreign country (all memories from past Spring Breaks). But instead, I turned down a free trip to Thailand (elephant riding and scuba diving included) because I cherish my heart song. I turned down a clubbing trip to Vegas. I turned down a romantic getaway. In all honesty, it is not destinations or pearly white smiles in a camera flash that pull me. I’ve been there. I’ve grown to know myself.

Instead, it’s the hushed moments with a close friend that pulls at me. It’s the tumble of my stomach when those big, blue eyes and open starfish hands raise up that pull at me. It’s the quiet afternoons nestled in the mountains surrounded by my family, with a spoonful of ice-cream, Mad Men, and two dogs nuzzled right beside me that pulls at me.

I had a priceless moment of silence. As my ballooned, pregnant sister teetered up the stairs for a nap, I listened for my sleeping nephew and the rain pattering outside. In that quiet moment, with a long, deep breath, I was grounded again. I am here.

You ruin your life by allowing your flame to dim. You are not for everyone. Your soul was built with a bright, sparkly gem like the ones you always held in the stores as a child, with a sharp edge and a cracked corner. You have love inside of you that will push you to care for the world, and others will disprove and argue. You will fall deeply in love with people and ideas and dreams, and you will be misunderstood. You will laugh too loudly and overreact and lay awake worrying about strangers you see in grocery stores. For that, protect yourself. Be grateful. Rejoice in your differences.

You ruin your life by living days that are boxes to be checked. Venture outside of these lines. Find passion, find bliss, find the small details that no one notices. Complete your work, then relish in the moments where you notice the steam dissolve in the cold air while their flushed cheeks smile at you. Appreciate each day the sun makes an appearance and soak your toes in the grass. Feel the thrill of trying something for the first time, and smile at the scrapes you earn along the way.

You ruin your life by living through a screen. Get off Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter. The people on the other side of the screen are as invested as the effort to tap a finger. They will talk about movies and work, but they won’t tell you how that song makes them sentimental because it reminds them of their mother, or describe the smells of their childhood home when their mother and father danced to oldies in the kitchen. These souls are the rare breed. But I urge you to wait for them. Embrace yourself until you find them. Be alone. Eat alone, take yourself on dates, dance alone. In the midst of the unsettling feeling of another night in an empty bed, you will learn about yourself. You will grow, you will figure out what inspires you, and when you do meet the person who makes your cells dance, you will be sure of it, because you are sure of yourself. Choose to love yourself with every sunrise, despite relationship status or good morning texts. You will find within yourself a deep, foundational kind of confidence that will surge through your bones and magnetize others glowing with the same liberation.

You ruin your life by desensitizing yourself. We are taught to harden our shells to the world, to care less so we don’t appear crazy, to value appearances over experiences. How many days have been wasted behind you because you didn’t give someone your raw self, your 100%? Where would you be if you laughed too loudly, cared too deeply, told your mother how much you loved her in front of your friends, excused yourself to have a conversation that ended up lasting all night, wore that shirt that only you admire? Find freedom in your expression, and never be afraid to tell that person how much you truly care.

You ruin your life by allowing yourself to sink a little more every day. Don’t settle for less than your desires. Don’t be surrounded by people helping tug you down. Find that rare breed standing on solid ground, ready to pull you up.

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your heart on fire.”