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Origins of Zen

Welcoming 2014

THAILAND | Wednesday, 1 January 2014 | Views [250]

       These are the last 12 hours of 2013. My mind sifts through memories of where I've come from and where I've been like a flip-book. I’m at Doi Suthep, a temple outside of Chiang Mai, and it's packed with people who are climbing like ants up the steep staircase. At the top they walk three times around, light candles, offer lotus flowers, burn incense, pour oil over statues of Buddha, and repeat their mantra. I rented a bike to get here and planned to meet Kendra at the top. It hadn't occurred to me that the temple would be teeming with people. I hadn't been on a motorbike since Bali, but the second I took off I remembered how it's one of the best feelings in the world. Free on two wheels to stop where I please, to have nothing between me and the landscape before me.     
         Walking through the Wat, I had a knot in my throat. Maybe it was of joy, of overcoming obstacles of the past year to put myself physically and mentally in places that my soul was craving. Or maybe it was my nervousness for what’s to come, of writing my next chapter, trying not to miss a beat. Since speaking with the medium, I’ve invested more thought into horoscopes, contemplating reincarnation, luck, and the power of the stars. I try to channel my higher self, the one who began to breathe in July after deciding on a new path, one that scales walls by my fingertips and prays on mountain tops. I just turned 25 and tomorrow I wake up in 2014. In the next twelve months I hope for happiness, good health, the health and safety of my family, and the beginning of a career. In 2014 I aim to achieve balance, a task that is constantly a work in progress. Looking out over the masses I thought I'd channel Kendra, think of where she might go, which shrine I might find her in front of. And then boom. I see her in the crowd. 
       On the way back to town I stopped at a lone Buddha statue that wasn't swarmed with pilgrims. I said my prayers in solitude, where I could think clearly about what I need in life. That night I set off a lantern, letting a wish or a worry go away with it. After helping a friend I looked back to see my lantern gone.   
     The clock of the guesthouse was broken and stuck at ten to midnight, time standing still,  the anticipation of the new year lingering on. In the morning someone had put a new battery in. It was time to begin again. 

Tags: chiang mai, new years, thailand, wat suan dok

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