Photo by Author, Bethesda in Maryland
On New Year Eve, I attended one of the Year-End workshops. Many expressed the pandemic had added extra pressures to their own existing challenges, or vice versa. They were overwhelmed by losing jobs, aging, their own, and/or someone else’s illness, or death. One of the attendees described her life as a ball with so many tangled threads. I took all the pains into my heart.
While listening, I thought about one of the Buddhist principles, the Four Sufferings. We all suffer from the life events of living (life from birth), aging, illness, and death. My thought further drifted to what Shakyamuni Buddha expounded, the Four Noble Truths. Better known as the theory of “Cause and Effect, “ he encouraged us to extinguish those sufferings. But living in the world of sufferings, how can we survive from these events but further thrive?
My late husband and I had practiced esoteric Buddhism together for many years. We’d experienced much of the Four Sufferings. For many years of practicing together, we’d not only survived but also been able to turn the difficulties and unexpected challenges into positive opportunities to transform us.
But during the period of his illness from 2013 until his passing in 2016, the level and the frequency of difficulties were overwhelming. I’d had no room to make my own balance and accumulated lots of undigested events behind. It’d been like holding myself tight onto rapid rollercoaster rides. Or swaying myself while walking a tightrope high up in the air. Nobody asked me to do so, but I’d had no choice but to do it. That’s why I understood all the workshop attendees’ agonizing feelings as if they were mine.
Back then, I’d had no place to lean into. After his passing, I’d spent so much energy to keep up with my faith and attitude of the devout good Buddhist leader. But in the hide, I’d broken into crying, hopeless and terrified. I’d held my vulnerability only inside of me. It was nine months after his passing when I turned to write.
I wrote for many hours, writing, and writing. I kept on writing for three months almost non-stop. Then I’ve still kept writing. As a warrior of seeking truth, I fought against my fears accumulated for over years. I’d cried to fight against what had prohibited me to be truthful. One by one, truths came out to the light, the surface of my consciousness. Fears, I’d held for so long, then evaporated and vanished. Only the light was there, after all the agonizing events laid out in my heart. I hope you can find the light and my truths in my forthcoming book, Finding home– A Japanese Immigrant woman’s Life and Transformation.
At the end of the workshop, I wrote to the person who shared the story of her tangled ball. “A ball, tangled with all the threads, is actually a shining star when you put it in the night sky.”
I’d wanted to tell her to write: the ball she had held would one day emerge as a shining star of her own.
For the last couple of weeks, it’s been a “big” time for me. HUGE.
Well, I’ll tell you why… I’ve signed up for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. A BIG time. Until recently, I’d refused to be part of the social network. A control freak and peace lover like me should never “expose” herself in the public. I’d been so afraid of “being exposed.”
As a novice writer, blogger, and social networker, I’ve been having a period of an almost nervous breakdown (?) How am I doing? Am I shrinking to the bottom, or just floating at the surface? How can I find the root, solid, and grounded? I’ve been so short-sighted.
Let me look out at the distant mountains: When I began to write, I didn’t have the audience in mind. But soon later, I knew my experience would help some people to find their ways. My wish and intention were not selfish or self-satisfactory. If I wasn’t present in the public, how could my voice or the story be heard? I’d had to make a decision about whether to face my fears. Finally, I’d chosen to face and accept my fears.
I am an advocate and believer in the power of writing. Writing a memoir had countless and immeasurable virtue. Not only the authors like me attain the light, but also readers experience every moment of finding truths, sharing the light with them.
Vulnerability scattered in the memoir would resonate with readers, becoming no longer vulnerable. Through their invisible exchange and ripples, something magical would happen. Synergized by the power of the readers, vulnerability becomes a shining beacon and the power of strength.
Together with readers, we elevate to free ourselves.
That is the power of memoir.