By now, everyone knows that Thailand is reopening in November. I can’t believe that I (and eventually Lisa) get to go back to the physical place that makes me feel most at home. There’s so many things I want to do when I get there – give the staff big hugs, play my handpan, and eat everything. Most of all though, I’m looking forward to being the person I used to be. But is it truly possible to just rewind to an earlier version of myself? I’ve changed the past year and half, as we all have. Undoubtedly I’ve experienced some trauma related to being separated from something I hold dear. However fleeting, part of who I was was wrapped up in my role at Suan Sati. Having this core component of my identity stripped away has made me question who I am, and what I’m doing.
Asking those questions are a good thing, as uncomfortable as they are. Who hasn’t looked themselves in the mirror during a poignant moment and asked themselves who they really are? Like, really! As a student of Buddhism, I’ve heard innumerable times that we are not who or what we think we are. We are not our job titles, our pasts, our relationships, our thoughts, and on and on. In this belief, Buddhism and Yoga are the same – we must sift through who we aren’t in order to figure out who we are.
I thought I was inseparable from Suan Sati, but here we are, all separated. And yet I’m still alive. I’m a little rustled, but I’ve fared alright the past year and a half. Sometimes it takes losing something precious to realize that although that thing seems to be an inextricable part of you, you’re still you without it. Different, but still you.
Now, as I prepare to go back to Thailand, I’m reflecting on the wake-up call that this thing, like all things, is really, really not mine. That feels unsettling and at the same time immensely liberating. If it falls apart or if it becomes wildly successful, I know I’ll be okay either way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still fully invested in making Suan Sati work. I’m just able to take a step back and see the bigger picture a bit better now. And that bigger picture is that I’ve still got some work to do untangling my identity, and therefore my mental peace, from everything around it.
I’ll leave you with an ancient and well known chant from the Upanishads.
”Om Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudachyate
Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamevavashisyate
Om, shanti, shanti, shanti.”
”You are the fullness. There is fullness, here is fullness. From the fullness, the fullness is born. Remove the fullness from the fullness and the fullness alone remains.”