Saturday, March 30, 2013


To a Friend:

When we talked the other day I really didn't get a chance to say much. I guess it was hard for me to talk at the office. What I wanted to tell you was that I haven't felt anxious or depressed for a long time now. I'd like to change a couple of things in my life but overall I'm content. I'm excited about new possibilities and hopeful for all the unknown that is yet to come.

I've always valued your opinion. I wouldn't have the career I have right now if it wasn't for you. However, I think we have very different ideas on what we want in life. I often feel misunderstood when we talk but for me to explain any further would sound defensive at best.  Everyone walks their own crocked path. There is no right way or wrong way. Nothing is better or worse. A person with common sense sees a straight line from A to B. When you truly open your eyes you see endless possibilities. For me life is not about getting from point A to point B or to exceed some arbitrary income threshold. More often than not just as we are on our way to some planned destination, we get derailed, delayed, or decide to go a whole different direction halfway through. That's the beauty in life, the unexpected. Because the sooner we get to our imagined destination the sooner we are disappointed at the lack of contentment it brings. So slow down and enjoy the detours.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Empty Mind

An empty mind fills the heart with gratitude.

A weekend away to a zen retreat.  Even though it wasn't supposed to be life changing, a small part of me still secretively wishes that something had changed, that somehow through the process of sitting quietly in a room with perfect strangers I had become wiser, calmer, more clearer. Maybe it’s like everything else that’s already been woven into the tapestry. I don’t know what the future holds but I will find out in time as I am in the front seat of my own life.

The retreat came to an end just as I started to get into the rhythm of zazen. I woke up this morning in my small cabinet feeling strangely attached to my surrounding. I felt home even without any of my belonging here, cases of books, closets full of clothes, scented candles, ipods, perfumes, two cats. None of it mattered. I felt grounded. I felt real. I felt relieved. No time has ever been wasted now or before. In this big chaotic universe, this is exactly the spot I’m supposed to be at this moment. What had brought us here isn't the desire to change life but to be more present to the life we already have. To be awakened deep down in our core.

It didn't take long for me to get back into the swing of things. I’m just as annoyed by everything my mother says and does. When I walked into the house I saw a dozen things that need to be done with just one glance. Then I made tea, turned on the computer and wrote these words. Tears came. I can’t tell if they are of joy or sadness. Just tears. And love. Lots of love. And now I’m slowly starting to realize that to be able to sit quietly in a room with perfect strangers is to practice love, compassion and acceptance. 

Closing Ceremony

We each had to speak at the closing. It was like a meeting for overachieving anonymous. When it was my turn this is what I shared:

There is a time for everything. I have experienced that time and time again in my life, from traveling, working, meeting people. I'm grateful to have found my way here. Like the life that is already woven into the tapestry, this is where am supposed to be at this moment and you are the people who are I'm supposed to share this moment with. Thank you!

And then there were tears. An overwhelming sense of love and gratitude. I thought to myself, no matter where life leads me, I will always have this moment. Treasure it. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why I Run

Sometimes people ask me what made me decide to train for a race. Beyond the obvious reason to attain better physical condition is the fact that I really get a kick out of identifying and overcoming personal challenges. Running a half marathon is merely an arbitrary goal, the tip of the iceberg. Underneath it all, it is not running that I am after but rather the feeling of making continuous progress and ultimately succeed in doing something I find difficult or something I wasn’t able to do before. I might not enjoy every run or every workout but there is satisfaction in proving to myself time and time again that I can put in my best work on the days I feel like it and on the days I dread it. It cultivates determination, persistence, accountability and discipline. Any improvement in physical conditioning resulted from reaching and meeting my goal is just a positive byproduct of pursuing something that is challenging and meaningful to me.

Looking back this is precisely how I have gone after many things in life, with vigor and focus. It is how I put together my applications for law school, attacked the LSAT, passed the brokers exam, became a Certified US Export Compliance Officer, tripled my salary in three years during an economic downturn, got started in international trade, traveled around the world, learned tango, completed two concurrent degrees, got accepted to the best music schools in the country, gained awareness of art, poetry and literature, exceled in AP classes and learned English after moving to this country at 13 years old. None of those things were easy and not all of them with great outcomes. I am a doer. When someone starts to tell me more of what they don’t do instead of what they do pursue I start losing respect for them

Slowly I am beginning to see that happiness for me is to be deeply immersed in the act of the pursuit. The object, secondary and the outcome, inconsequential. The older I get the more I realize that life is not about which path you choose but how you carry out the choices you’ve made. The days of vexing over where my passions lay are now becoming more distant in the rare view mirror. I take comfort in knowing that passion will follow when the pursuit is done with vigor.

I had a quarrel with someone recently on the difference between recreational running and race training and what personal significance it had on me. The older I get the more I see there are all kinds of people in the world. Although I have high standards for myself and everyone around me I also realize that not everyone has had the same privileges I have had. The study of economics further illustrated to me that nothing can be said with absolute certainty. This is not to say that I am a skeptical person. I will forever be stubborn in my own ways with strong opinions and beliefs. However, I try not to impose those on anyone else or rule out any alternative possibilities. A person with common sense sees one logical path between A and B. A person with rich imagination can justify many paths. Overtime I have become less judgemental. The next step is perhaps to stop judge people who judge people.