solstice

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1. When people say, “Others will find healing in your suffering,” you can either take it as a cop-out answer to what you are going through or you can believe it. But I promise you that if you choose the latter – bigger, more powerful things will come of it.

Remember, if you ever feel like you’re backtracking, it’s not true, because everyday is a choice and some days are harder to choose what is good than others.

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2. It makes sense that I met you in a time where everything is blooming. It makes sense that I met someone who understands that the past has made me who I am, but doesn’t make me who I am. Someone once looked at us and said to me, “This makes sense.” This makes sense.

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3. We used to throw a backyard BBQ every summer solstice, and we would celebrate the longest day of the year laying in the grass; everything smelling like sunscreen and smokey meat and everything tasting like watermelon. The word solstice has always been one of my favourites, because it means the highest point and also the lowest point. Some solstices are shucking oysters by the sea and swimming pool chlorine, and some solstices are Christmas lights and seeing the stars before dinnertime, but all solstices have a way to be celebrated.

HERE / NOW

“I want to stick my net into time and say ‘now’ as men plant flags on the ice and snow and say ‘here’.” – Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

Last week, to say that, “I am here,” was non-existant. I can’t pinpoint you anything on latitude and longitude or really, pinpoint to you at all what last week was like. I’ve been retyping this post trying to find the right metaphor to hide behind, but there’s no other way to say it: having anxiety is shitty. Being someone who is moved by others and simultaneously being too afraid to get out of bed is shitty. Staying home all day and not being able to find rest is shitty. Pretending not to care about things or saying you’re sick instead of telling people what’s actually going on is shitty. Feeling like you’re going to lose everything for no reason at all is shitty.

But on Thursday, I woke up for the first time in what felt like an eternity with zero anxiety. I texted Grace, “LIFE IS SO BEAUTIFUL,” and got a nose piercing, because why the hell not? To say that, “I am here,” right now, means I want to plant my flags in everything. My camera feels insufficient. My pen and journal are futile devices. My hands can’t hold enough. There are so many moments I just want to make permanent. I’m currently living in the pages of Letters to a Young Poet by Rilke, which was recommended to me by someone who’s taste I always hold close to my heart. He writes: “Believe in a love that has been stored up for you like an inheritance.” And that is what I want to do – store up everything around me that I love like it will waterfall into other things later. I want to believe in a love that has been created in this way for me.

So, with that being said, here are some pieces of my inheritance that I have stored up for the past few months:

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Bowen Island on Film

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1. Shooting with my DSLR while I was on-the-go was the best, but now that I’m home, I’m more than happy to have my film camera back. The theme of coming home has been relearning everything. I’m relearning how film carries a different weight. I need stillness. I need patience. I need to forgo certain shots in order to take better ones. It takes time to reach the end of a roll. It takes time to receive the final product, and time puts a haze over expectations. Film photography is forgetting, and then remembering again.

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2. Last weekend, we spent our days huddled on Bowen Island in a house on a hill owned by hippies with 3 Juno Awards. We went hiking. We played video games (because the boys obviously could not leave their video games behind). We got drunk, told secrets, and laughed a lot. We were quiet. We were loud. We had dance parties.

For me, the week before was one of those heavy-shoulders, runny make-up, eye-bagged weeks. I literally cried over Richard eating my pizza, because that’s how bad things got. And when the weekend hit, I felt like I could breath again. Getting out of Vancouver physically got me out of that headspace for a few moments, and it was like hitting a reset button. Or maybe it was just the snooze button, but whatever it was – the mountains and the sea do that to you. Rest does that to you.

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3. My favourite thing about the weekend was that we all cooked for each other, and the weeks leading up to the trip, everyone bragged about how awesome their meals were going to be. I was talking about the weekend later with Ben and he said, “It was great to see what everyone brings to the table,” and he really meant it literally. I love that when we are called to serve one another, we step up our game and go ham (ok, no more food puns from hereon out).

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4. “Each friend represents a world in us, a world not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that new world is born.” – Anais Nin

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5. I have been thinking about ceremonies and traditions a lot, and how many times you have to do something before it becomes a tradition. Everything grows differently, and at this age, I will never have expectations for things to stay stagnant for very long, but tradition is what eases comings and goings. It’s what makes leaving heartbreaking and what makes returning look like open arms. I haven’t been with these friends for very long, but already, there are patterns that make me feel comforted – the way we play the good kind of games; the way certain things are always done in communion, and the way that our traditions tend to be invitational. I hope these are things that always stay important.

Becoming Home

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1. Some places become home without you noticing. It starts with the first time you get a good night’s sleep. And then one day, you find yourself saying, “I’ll be home soon,” or “I come home next Wednesday.” Sometime home looks like a thief in the night stealing away all the things that made you feel unsafe. When you wake in the morning, it smells like hot coffee and tastes like fresh bread, and you realize that when you weren’t looking, everything that kept rest from smelling and tasting like that has been taken away. Home comes when you start to trust instead of recite, and you are welcomed with arms of empathy instead of fear. It sneaks up behind you and you catch yourself thinking: “This is what it’s supposed to be like.”

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2. No matter how many times I order coffee here, I’m always surprised that it comes in tiny cups.

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3. Have you ever noticed that vintage stores smell the same no matter where you are? A lot of people hate it, but I’d like to think that it’s what stories and history smell like – like old books or a musk that can only be created by time.

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4. I almost deleted this photo because there was an out-of-place body, but I kept it because I liked how the surfers look like birds on a wire, but out in the ocean instead of the sky. We were watching a group of surf students warm up on the beach, and somebody pointed out how you could tell how eager they all were to get into the water. They reminded me of toy cars all wound up to be released, and when their teacher finally said, “Go,” they were let go like cannonballs into the sea.

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5. This is the garden of our house that we’re not allowed to go in. I often stand on our balcony and dream about having breakfast in the garden or having a candle-lit party there like we sometimes do at Anna’s. There are grape vines that crawl all the way up to the second floor, and I think about whether the world’s greatest love story would have changed if Juliette had been brave enough to climb down the branches instead of waiting for Romeo to come up to her. Today while I looked down, I wondered why we are so fixated on forbidden fruit and why the heart longs for the things it cannot have. But in this case, the grass is literally greener on the other side.

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6. It’s been nice unravelling Bordeaux bit-by-bit. I’m so used to shotgunning cities like freshman beers – trying to drink it all as quickly as possibly, but usually half of it slips past sloppy lips and ends up on the concrete. But here, we live in a paradox of having all the time in the world and having only 4 short months, but it is a good paradox to be in. We meander through newly discovered streets, and make “next time” lists, knowing that “next time” could be tomorrow or next week or maybe even never, but at least the possibility of sooner than later keeps the list ever-growing. This is often what hope is: a list that knows it will probably never be completed, but keeps growing anyways.

Dear Brother

My friend Sarah wrote a beautiful poem from her experiences in Korea in the form of a letter from South Korea to North Korea. Her words are inspiring, and I love how encouragements from home can always meet me where I’m at no matter where I am in the world.

“That’s the what the Gospel is – it gives us the courage to see things that are dark, and it gives us hope to realize that it’s not the end of the story.”

dear brother // spoken word about korea from Sarah Suk on Vimeo.

Meet My Room Mates!

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Meet my roomies (aka, my new Russian baby sister and German mother)! Here are 3 facts about each of them:

NATASHA

1) Loves the opera and classical music (and also American music, haha).

2) Has never seen the ocean before (which we will change tomorrow)!

3) Is afraid of any creature that flies.

ISABELLE

1) Loves to go surfing.

2) Has an Australian accent when she speaks English.

3) Drove here all the way from Germany, which means we have a car and our lives are 10x easier!!!

As of today, we can officially call our flat a home, because as Natasha says, “A home is not a home until it has food in it.” We made our first meal together, and they have been the best for flipping my homesickness around. Tomorrow, we go to the beach!

Have you ever had a moment that you knew would never happen again, so you tried to soak it all in, but it was too much?

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The most genuine “Thank you” I have ever received was from a man I’ve never met before (but who I’ve felt like I’ve met a million times) with a face that looks like the moon in a room so small that 15 was a crowd. And all I wanted to do was thank him for the ways that he has torn open his wounds out of habit and chaos and then learned to choose light instead.

“What does your tattoo mean?”

(It says: “This is water.”)

“It’s from a David Foster Wallace speech where he talks about two fish who don’t know what water is, because it’s what their entire world is made up of and they can’t see it. It’s a reminder that we need to look at our world from another perspective to see it as it truly is.”

Tonight, I read your book of poetry front to back (again), because it was the only response that felt right. Tonight, I write this for you.