Breaking Free

The more I determine to change my destiny and follow my dreams, the harder it becomes. Dork moment right here, but I’m a HUGE Avatar: The Last Airbender fan. If you haven’t watched at least one episode of this amazing show I feel sad for you. Look it up, watch an episode, and begin your fascination.

In any case, there’s an episode where the main characters land in a live swamp, and as they’re sleeping in the middle of the night vines whip out of the trees and begin to wind their way around their bodies, but just as they break free of some, tons more come out and continue to grab onto them. And when one of the characters gets caught up by the swamp monster (sounds so dorky, I know, but really it’s a fantastic episode, just bear with me here), the more he struggles, the more the vines try to pull him in.

Thanks Google 🙂

This is exactly how I feel right now, and how this year has started out. The more conviction I gain in pursuing my dream of moving to Spain, the more these vines creep out of the woodwork and try to pull me back, keeping me from moving forward with my life. The harder I struggle, the more I try to break free, the more these vines threaten to choke me, binding me to where I am right now, comfortable and stagnant.

 Enter a very Nichiren Buddhist saying when you’re facing an obstacle, or many: “Congratulations!” And you know what, it’s true. The more I run up against obstacles, the more I realize that the path I am choosing is the right one. This may sound illogical, but really, these obstacles will allow me to grow and expand my life in ways that I wouldn’t if I let these vines hold me back. Just imagine the alternative, if I were to give up and stay where I am, I’d face another year in a school where sure I’d grow, but within a limited realm and with the danger of becoming comfortable and content with my career, wandering up and down the streets of NY constantly daydreaming about travel. Or, I can break through issues of finance, fear, relationships, and grow from these experiences, gaining knowledge and experience that will allow me to truly flourish in Spain.

 As a friend told me this morning, this is simply physics. The more you try to move forward, the more opposition you will face, but that opposition is what, strangely enough, will propel you forward. Much like a plane taking off…it needs that opposing wind to finally take off into the sky. If you aren’t facing that opposing force then something is wrong.

 Of course underlying this all is an almost paralyzing fear. It took over me before I went to Costa Rica and unveiled itself in the realm of constant anxiety attacks. While my sense of adventure right now outweighs my anxiety, I still can’t help but have moments of fear. I have painted this lovely picture of life in Spain and years of travel ahead of me, but I also realize how challenging it will really be.

 “As the ancient Greek philosopher Plato said: ‘This, sir, is where a man wins the first and best of victories-over himself. Conversely, to fall a victim to oneself is the worst and most shocking thing that can be imagined.’ Victory over oneself is the starting point of all victories.” Plato as quoted by Daisaku Ikeda, The New Human Revolution, vol. 23

 But, with the sword of the Lotus Sutra (or machete, like Sokka’s :), I know that I can break through anything. And with this new found confidence, courage and faith, I really am striving to challenge myself. I have only so far used this practice to help me accomplish things that at the end of the day, I knew I could accomplish. But have I seriously pushed boundaries? Have I really tested these limits I think I have? No. And this is my goal for this year, to cast away these notions I have and strive for something I think will truly be impossible.

 What this seemingly impossible goal is, I’m not quite sure yet. But I do know that I’m ready to move forward, cut through these vines, and embark on an entirely new stage of my life. I don’t wish to forget the past, and sometimes, the past is so difficult to let go. Just as I’m ready to enter this new stage, floods of memories come rushing back threatening to drown me with their cloyingly thick honey-like sweetness and I can only just barely keep the tears at bay. But at the end of the day, I must stick to my determination and cast away my fear, and have the faith that I am following the right path for my life, and that I am protected, and will end up exactly where I am meant to be.


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