Saturday, April 12, 2014


Things don't always turn out the way we imagine them to be, as in a perfect world. And for all the rest of the imperfect times, we call them reality.

Friday night was for opera at the MET. But to add a small twist, I was to leave the opera a bit early to meet a friend I haven't seen since my undergrad audition at Cleveland thirteen years ago. The scheme in my head goes something like this:
I come out of the MET and appeared into the empty square with wind in my hair. As I moved closer to a lone figure leaning on the fountain, he stood up and slowly took a step towards me. When our eye finally met it was as if no time had passed. We smiled and stood facing each other for a long time as if neither one of us wanted to disturb the perfect silence.

In reality, I left the opera in the beginning of the third act, came out of a tourist packed square, saw a bunch of shadows around the fountain but none looked familiar. It was a beautiful night and once again I was alone. 15 minutes passed before my phone rang. He was running late. Another ten minutes later his car pulled up to the steps and I jumped in with the sound of cars honking around us. 

It was getting late. The only place I could think of in the neighborhood was the wine bar next to my building. You think we would have lots to talk about after all this time but we didn't. Was it because we just understood each other without further elaboration or was it not that much as happened. I got married and divorced; he's got a 5 year-old daughter. I traveled a little; he traveled much more. I lived in BA for a few months, he lived in Germany for a few years. I got out of music; he's becoming a recognized concert pianist. In many ways we have gone in diametrical directions but in many ways we're still the same. In the grand scheme of things we really haven't changed that much.

I didn't have to explain to him the difficulty of getting out of music. He didn't have to explain to me the difficulty of staying with it. That's the beauty of communicating with musicians. It comforts me.

I was really stomped when he asked me, "how's your personal life?"
Well, I've never evaluated it before. Should I have? It's been two years since I've really dated someone. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I meet people every now and then but no one's caught my attention. I'm single and I'm happy. I guess that's a good thing.

Monday, April 7, 2014


There was a time I was so sure of everything but I wasn't. Now I know nothing and I've never been less doubtful.

There was a time I marched to the sound of my own drum. Now I'm starting to see the beauty and harmony of falling into the beat that is now, to be perfectly in sync with the moment.

To meditate is to focus on the breathe. And to focus on the breathe is love. Things were said during Dharma talk at the retreat, most of which I never remembered. Life is a futile attempt at escaping reality. Like all addicts, we are in a constant state of recovery. When your mind starts to wonder, bring it back to the present, back to now, now, now, nothing more than now.

That is the truth and not a lie. I knew when she looked at me, us, and said, I want to sit with your for the rest of my life. I cried. It was love, trust, dedication and compassion all rolled into one.

That's love. It needs no reason, no rationale, no foundation, no expectations, no conditions, no judgments. When all is stripped away, love remains. It's the only kind of love. There is no other truth. At that moment I knew that's where I want to be. I don't know how or when or what or whom but someday, I will get there. Someday I will love and it will be the only truth I've ever known.

My name is Liren and my practice is my breathe.

The teaching is transmitted face to face. We sat face to face at dokusan. I smiled because I knew I was seen. She asked if I was happy. I nodded and when my smile stretched to its limit, tears fell, so much so that I couldn't speak. But that was ok. I didn't have to. She asked if I had any questions. I shook my head. I knew nothing and yet I felt so certain that nothing needed to be known. This is the way because there is no other way.

Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Those were the saddest words I've ever heard. I couldn't stop crying after she said that. Three days of sitting later I can't say I was enlightened because I wasn't. I was embarrassed, frustrated, and disgusted by my inability to switch of my wondering mind. I'm addicted to thinking. It was my coping mechanism for so long and it had served me well at times. Now it's time to let it go, not just thoughts but feelings about those thoughts too. No more embarrassment or frustration. This is me, no more no less. 

I came back and started to sit each morning. Some-times it goes by better than others. But that's ok. I am a musician. The word practice comes with the privilege of imperfection. Maya Angelou said to do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better. Here, I don't know how much there is to know. I practice to get better. That's enough for now.

I realized that I've been running on and off for 18 months now. I'm not a natural runner. I've never had an easy run. When people ask if I liked running my answer was always no. Then they ask why I run, I tell them may be if I run long enough I'll like it.

So I ran. My calves were hurting and I was always struggling. Surely, to run ten plus miles in snow and below freezing temperatures gave me a sense of accomplishment but I still didn't like running. Even running the NYC Half did nothing. After all the training, crossing that finish line was the most anticlimactic thing ever. After 13.1 miles and an artificial line I got to walk. That's it. I got to walk!

I got tired of sitting at school today so I came home. I ran in the rain. Six miles. The park was empty. It was chilly but it was beautiful. With each breath I reminded myself that's love.

Today will go down history as the day I fell in love with running.