Thursday, February 19, 2015

year of the goat.

It was just over three years ago the last time I celebrated Lunar New Year, or, let's be honest, even realized what day it was. (I'm lucky if I even know what month we are most of the time.) Looking back on memories of that night, our faces looking up at the fireworks seem so young, so fresh, so innocent under the exploding lights. So different from the hardened, weathered face I wear tonight as I look down at the fireworks from our yard at the top of the hill.

Perspective changes everything.

Three years ago, as we watched the passing of the year go from the rabbit to the dragon, promise seemed to hang suspended in the air with those lights. We didn't know what the future held exactly, but we hoped there'd be children.

It's incredible how much can change in just three years.

And now here I am. Standing in my yard with no pants and my rain boots at just after midnight, watching patiently for what little of the fireworks pop through the thicket of trees down the hill, listening to the beat of drums and cheers of the crowd. I am taken back to nights in Taiwan on my scooter, stumbling upon ceremonies millennia older than my own commercial culture. The same feeling of encroaching on something sacred where I don't really belong creeps in, mixed with a strange jealousy that aches my heart, a longing to feel connected to something that runs so deep.

I remember a weekend trip I took by myself up to the mountains somewhere in the Taiwanese interior. I was searching for the largest statue of Buddha at the time but somehow wound up finding bliss.

I stumbled into a temple and tiptoed my way into a room thick with silence. I did not notice the monks meditating in the shadows until they left, that is how still they were. I sat, meditating myself for a quiet eternity, just alive, just being.

As I was leaving I got off the elevator on the wrong floor and came upon a guarded shrine. Visiting hours were over, but the guard seemed pleased to have some company. My Mandarin was as broken as his English so we mostly just smiled and bowed to each other every now and then, but eventually he came to me and pressed gently but firmly on my shoulders until I knelt. He patiently guided me through the five-point prostration and then we knelt together in unison. He spoke to me in Chinese and I just listened, drinking in the words like music and somehow feeling like I understood. He fumbled with a key and led me into a small adjoining room and indicated an ornate box. It was clearly sacred and together we knelt three times to pay our respects.

It wasn't until the way out that he handed me a flyer and while waiting for the elevator I read in imperfect English that the little box held bones from Siddhartha's feet. Buddha himself. He preached the importance of non-attachment his whole enlightened life but there in that elevator lobby I've never felt so connected to the divine.

And here I am on this hill feeling connected again. Feeling the pull of that temple in a direct line to my heart and I just wish I had the guts to go down there and dance with the dragon until my legs were too sore to stand.

Instead I quietly watch the passing from the horse to the goat, and with it feel a surge of something deep in my chest. Three years ago my body was preparing to become round and pregnant with my two beautiful boys. This year my soul feels pregnant with promise & prosperity & amazingly peace. I welcome this year of creativity with an open mind and a free spirit. I cannot wait to meet whatever it is that might be born of my efforts in the year to come and am excited to watch yet another transformation of myself. No matter what comes, I am determined to keep peeling at the essence of me, keep boiling it down until I am concentrated and pure. Crystallized me. Just me, raw, no impurities.

Right now, that me is still standing under the stars in nothing but her underwear, a long sweater and yellow rain boots, and I'm thinking I'm off to a pretty good start.