Tuesday, March 26, 2019


We’re all a little bruised and broken. Suffering is indiscriminate. No matter who you are or where you come from or where you were and where you are going, no matter your gender, age, the color of your hair, your morals and beliefs, rich or poor, we all suffer.

The Buddha said that life is Dukkha. Life is suffering. To live is to suffer. Because, as the Buddha explained we are living in the cycle of samsara: life, death, rebirth; and with living comes suffering because karma, the law of cause and effect, can lead to suffering.

Some say our sufferings stem from ancestral wounds that never healed. This is a new concept for me, which I am curious about. I wonder though, does this mean that we can blame others for our suffering? Does this mean that we have no control over it, and it’s all predetermined through an ancestral algorithm of sorts? If not any of these hypotheses, then what does any of it mean?

Of course, humans are not the only beings or spirits which suffer, though I feel as though our suffering is worse because we are complicated creatures who perhaps bring a lot of it upon ourselves.

Some days, like today, all we can do is feel it through and just observe. For me it’s yoga, a walk in the woods, playing guitar, or writing a blog post, but for you, it could be something else. Whatever that space or action that can lead to cathartic expressions I believe can be incredibly healing.

Today I got onto my mat and discovered a deep well of sadness. I felt its darkness and absence of love. I didn’t know it was there until I got into a posture, just lying on my belly and breathing, and I began crying for all the things I felt and couldn’t say. In this state of delicacy, however, my mind was so clear. It was as if my mind was soothing my heart and just observing these emotions, and sort of consoling my heart that it’s ok to feel emotions like sadness and “just cry, just keep breathing and feel what you need to feel, without judgment, attachment or shame,” my mind instructed.

I think my meditation practice has helped me become so much stronger, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. I have to thank Andy Puddicombe from my Headspace app, and my soon to be brother-in-law Steven for having introduced me to the app in spring 2017 when I had gone to visit him and brother Kevin in San Francisco. I’ve been meditating since then and this practice has changed my life.

I’ve learned tools to help me not be afraid of my thoughts or emotions and to just observe them like passing clouds because underneath all the dark clouds there is always a blue sky. This analogy can often be found in meditation practices, and I learned about it through headspace. We just have to remember we have peace of mind all the time (blue sky) and that sometimes those clouds of sadness or doubts will creep in. Meditation has allowed me to better understand myself and my mind. Slowly I begin to see patterns and why I do or think the way I do, all from a place of tender curiosity and deep compassion. I am reminded of how human I am and constantly question what it means to be human and why we do what we do and don’t do what we don’t do.

Life, even in the Southern French Alps, is not always a fairytale. It’s hard no matter where you are. I’ve made more French friends here and have learned of more sad stories and pain and suffering are the recurring theme. It puts things into perspective.

For me life has been so condensed and charged with change these last 6 months. I got married, moved to a new country, moved to a new village within that country, intensified my studies of this new language, continued building my business while my husband continued building his and finding a way for those to blend together, all while raising a young cat and the learning curve that comes with raising a cat for the first time.

In this moment we are the crucible of building a new life, together. It’s getting hot inside as more responsibilities and deadlines pile up for this loan to that. It seems to never end and some weeks, we seem to never see each other as we live in the mountains and loans and banks live in the city and now the bees are on the coast so Jorris has been driving back and forth between all places, his cup filled with bee work, business class work with a dash of bank/finance work.

He’s stretching himself in all directions and you can imagine what that does to a person, and for a newlywed couple. His cup can fill no more. There’s no more room for drops of my quirky jokes or childish comments like this morning when I said “what if I loved Bodhi (our cat) so much he turned into a real human?!” Texting a business text and not hearing my comment, Jorris continued with his work. 

Then those quirky jokes and my wish for attention get swept under the rug and soon the rug isn’t big enough to cover it all up. Then what?

It seems like this sort of pressure-filled feeling has always been in our relationship since the beginning, perhaps a sort of relationship karma? At first it was, soon I’ll have to go back to CA because my visa will expire so we’ll be apart again but for how long; then it was where do we want to make our life in France or U.S.; then now, how are we going to do it...all these choices and life decisions that just seem to keep demanding an answer now.

Jorris had been camping in L’Esterel and working with the bees and various business formations in Nice so we hadn’t really seen each other until we went on a date night on Sunday. It had been the first just-us date night in a while at the local Au Bon Coin (The Good Corner) restaurant in our village. Over trout and pizza we had a moment to just be a couple, and while some clouds lingered, I could see the blue sky for a moment.

This morning though, I’m not sure if it’s as blue. My heart is heavy. I continue to breathe through the uncertainty that is life. What else can we do? Whatever happens though will happen as it should and life will continue because it just does. Someone close to my heart the other day wrote to me and reminded me of how I was a bright ray of sunshine to her from across the ocean and that she admired my authenticity and how I could put love above all else. It was beautifully written and sincere. I felt a sense of peace after reading it because even if I accomplish nothing more in this life, at least I know I inspired love and light from a place of authenticity for one person and that’s more than enough for me.

If, to be human is to suffer, but to suffer is to know or have known true love, beauty and wisdom, then perhaps it is worth it, wherever our paths may lead.

*Photos by Tiffanie Ma

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