I read the last line and closed the book. It was really sweet, a nostalgic novel that toward the end tumbled into melancholy, possibly even as deep as despair, but finds its way above water again. Things were never made perfect for the protagonist. But they were made right.
I tucked my legs up onto the chair, wrapped my arms around them. Naked. A pensive position in my most comfortable state. I’ve never really been bothered by nudity. I’ve never seen it as an offense or something to embarrassed about. It’s something we all have. And when you shed irrelevant facade like a snake discards its old skin, it’s what you are.
I became self-conscious of that moment. 11am on a Wednesday. While most people have gone off to their offices to earn their bread and rent, here I am, a girl whose cheeks are imprinting furniture in her brightly-lit dining room, embracing coffee and cloudy Taipei skies, accompanied by the tumbling roars of motorcycles on the freeway and the warm echo of having just absorbed a story beautifully sung. I let myself soak in the morning.
The scene still strikes me as strange, because as a child I did not spend much time soaking in anything. Instead, I had become very good at chasing. There was always carrot in front of me, and for years I was lunging, gasping, lungs heaving toward promises of a life without need. They told me that as long as I kept myself in white-faced strain, panting anxiety, I would be cherished. I would be worthy.
I finished the rest of my coffee and stared across the river at the dull buildings framing the sullen, colorless sky. I thought about how I went from empty chases and illusory duty to something slower and more palatable. Something I wanted to be a part of.
“Honor yourself,” was what I heard.
I put the mug in the sink. I really love these mornings.
There never seems to be a manual for these things. These things that seem to really matter.
It seems that humans are born into a black world. You come defenseless, crawling, and when you eventually learn to walk every step leads you further into an unknown that has made this place its home since the beginning of time. You’re just passing by. When you run, you run to nowhere. You live your whole life in darkness.
But I suppose that’s why evenings are precious. Because the dark gave us the stars. The immovable gods that guided our ancestors to new lands were the same ones that guided them back to hearth and home. They gave time a face, illustrated the future–from the stars they tugged out enough loose threads to weave wisdom and civilization.
They showed us that the darkness was never an enemy. Your darkness was never an enemy.
It’s ok. Relax your shoulders. You have never needed to see the whole path. You’ve only ever needed to be aware of your stars—truths as old and real as time itself. Your values, your immovable gods.
I’ve stumbled for a while, and it took holding my own hand, with patience and a gentle touch, like how you would hold the hand of your grandma or a child, to finally let myself jump.
The empty expectations, the crippling “should’s” and the persistent “ought to’s”—I freed myself from the rusty chains of all that I knew and leaped.
Suspended. Cold crisp air hitting my face and greeting the bottoms of my feet.
Now pitch black. I see the ugly grin of doubt forming. Fear is deafening. There is so much unstable ground here. My flesh exposed.
I think this is what vulnerability is.
But something told me to look up and that’s I saw them with my own eyes. It was the first time I’ve ever seen them. Such power and quiet solidarity in that raw, suspended moment.
When I saw them I knew that was it. There was truth and grace. A Milky Way galaxy dancing heavy with love.
The lights that appear only when we brave the darkness. The gods that lead us to ourselves.
I looked down at my hands, scratched up and battered from the fall. No manual. Just hands that will work in the presence of the night. Hands that know when to move and when to rest.
I’m bruised and panting, but I’m smiling. Even the darkness keeps me company.
I think this is what faith is.