bodhi tree


By Ty H. Phillips


The weather is perfect.

It’s one of those days where everything seems just right—the temperature, the breeze, the fall leaves making that soft wooshing sound, like waves in the sky. I close my eyes and sigh. Everything feels just right and I am happy and grateful to have this moment. As soon as I recognize that I am aware of this moment, I ruin it.

Do I feel okay? I’ll probably be sick later.

A list of negative self talk rushes in and that perfection is lost. I try and get it back but of course, forcing it isn’t going to work.

When I first started writing, I was reluctant to share a lot of the details in my life. I was a dharma teacher, or something like that. I was supposed to be serene, have all my shit together, and be the perfect example of enlightened america. The funny thing is, the teachers that I know and have met that seem the most serene, who never share an off moment, who seem to have every single aspect of life nailed down and figured out, live in absolute chaos.

I am not a great teacher.

The truth is, I am probably a piss poor Buddhist. I worry, I have chronic health issues, I am obsessed with comic books superheroes and I tend to run a little on the high strung side. What I do have going for me is my honesty.

I am relatable because I am not hiding behind a facade of enlightenment.

Like you, I am human. I laugh and I cry and I even swear when I am really, really mad (shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone). I notice boobs, I catch myself saying so and so is hot, I laugh at crude humor (fart jokes) and when I am really anxious, I’ll crack open a beer to relax.

This openness is where I found that I could be the most helpful. I am not telling anyone what to do and how to be, I am sharing what helped me in my own neurosis. “Yeah, I’ve been there too. It sucks. This is what I did and it really helped me.” This seems a lot better than, “Hey, I am a guru, now shut up, sit down, and listen up.”

I am not a guru.

I am—well, I am not quite sure yet. Maybe a friend is the best word. I am a friend.

I have failed more than I have succeeded, so here are my mistakes. I have cried more than I have laughed, so here are my stories. I have used the word I too many times in this short message.

So what about you? Who are you? How are you trying to improve or understand what’s going on in life? Where can we meet in the middle and share a friendship? Where can I learn from you what you have done and where can I share with you what I have done?

How about right here?

How about in a state of shared vulnerability? Too scary? That’s okay. I think that’s the point. I think enlightenment is found within the cracks of shattered pretense and willing openness—when I stop trying to pretend and instead, just sit here with you.

I can feel my heart beating here.

I can feel the breeze and the sun on my face. I can hear the Fall leaves again, making that whooshing sound like waves in the sky. I can see a red leaf falling, floating, rocking back and forth on the wind.

It lands at my feet.

We are just sitting here—me, you, the leaf. It’s nice here among friends.


Photo: (source)

Editor: Dana Gornall