Hello, I’m back! It’s now Monday, the start of a brand new week. But before I can talk about how this week is looking for me, I must back track and finish up talking about everything that happened this weekend. Where was I?
Ah yes. The night of August 18th/19th.
I can’t even begin to fathom how exactly I could efficiently capture everything I learnt that night. But after that conversation, I now know that I don’t really need to. I’ll address why as I write. Here we go…
So I finished work at 9:45, and immediately headed out to the subway. I had a book just in case (Awakening the Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das), a sweater in case it got cold, eye drops for my contacts, etc. Safe to say, I was ready. I ran into Cory and Avery for a brief moment before I headed out to downtown, which was nice! I told them about my plans, and I could see from the looks on their faces that they definitely thought I was nuts, LOL. In all honesty, I just might be – but in some pretty amazing ways, if I do say so myself.
I love seeing the look on people’s faces when I tell them the things I do by myself, like taking myself out to dinner or watching movies on my own. The reactions vary, but most of the time I get this very specific look: a look that’s caught somewhere in between pity, and awe. It’s quite amusing actually! It’s like people don’t really know whether they should feel sorry for me, or if they should be impressed. It’s not that I care what they think – it’s just interesting to see the way that people themselves perceive being on your own, and enjoying your own company. Society makes being “lonely” such a taboo, unwanted idea – but really, spending time on your own and genuinely enjoying it is probably one of the healthiest and greatest things you can do for yourself!
Anyways, back to that night – after hanging out with Cory and Avery for a brief couple moments, eventually they bid me adieu and told me to stay safe, and I went on my merry way.
I knew that I wanted to start with dinner first, and I found this place called 7 West – a tiny little cozy gem, tucked away in the streets of downtown, with some deliciously authentic Italian cuisine. Dimly lit with soft flickering candles and furnished with delicately rustic wooden tables and décor, it was quite literally the perfect place for me. I found myself a quiet corner at a little table for two, and just basked in the atmosphere of the place.
It was so, so, so much fun! The server was super friendly, and she made some great recommendations of the menu. Eventually, I decided on a fantastically flavourful ricotta cheese and spinach stuffed ravioli bathed in a delectable rosé sauce. I can’t even begin to express the amount of happiness that flowed through me at every bite. I didn’t even need my book at that time – I was happy to be present in that moment, to really absorb the full impact of the place, the food, and the ambience.
People would come in and go, but this time, the looks I got were purely those of admiration. And I would beam back just as happily. Already, this night was off to an amazing start.
After my amazing meal, I got a latte because it was already past midnight at that point, and the sleepiness was slowly starting to creep up on me. As I drank my latte, I looked up the directions to my next destination – yet another 24/7 place, a diner called “Fran’s”.
It was about 15-20 minutes away by walking, which was perfect! I loved walking through downtown. Despite the questionable strangers who cat-called, it was a lot of fun to walk through the city at that time. It’s exhilarating to practise living life without fear.
Once I got there, I was sat in a cute little nook close to the kitchen, facing the restaurant in a way that was perfect for people watching (which I love to do). I ordered a milk shake, and hesitantly pulled out my book – I didn’t want to take up the server’s table and prevent him from getting tips throughout his overnight shift. When he passed by again, I asked him if it was okay if I stayed awhile and read, and he graciously told me to stay as long as I liked.
So, I contentedly settled into my little booth, ordered a coffee (which came with endless refills) and began to read this book.
I’m quite literally sitting here, at a loss of how to describe the following events that took place, the lessons I learnt. I know the words I could use to describe this experience, but how exactly can I convey the… magic, of it all? The way I felt? The most amazingly transparent sense of clarity that I’ve ever experienced?
I’ll just do my best and hope it comes across the way I intend it to come across.
Have you ever read a book that takes you away, transcends you to a different place or time? Because this book… every page proposed a different lesson to learn. There were moments where I actually had to stop to process what I was reading. It was so poignant, well-written, and absolutely astounding with the wisdom it had to offer.
As I lost myself in this work, a man came out of the kitchen and stopped dead when he saw what I was reading. He excitedly told me he’s read that same book before, that it was incredible and eye-opening and that there was this other book that was very similar and equally as thought-provoking. But, he couldn’t remember the title! So he said he’d be back, and he grabbed his phone to see if he could find it.
This kept happening for a little while – I would read, and then he’d come back, and we’d talk about the possible names of the author of the book he was trying to remember, and then we’d talk a little about the things he’d learnt from the books he’s read. It was quite amusing actually; his energy was infectiously positive, he seemed very wise and I honestly couldn’t quite tell how old he was. Because, while he seemed older, he had the vitality of someone young.
I don’t quite recall how the deeper conversations began, but eventually every time he stopped by my little booth, the conversations began to get longer and more insightful with every visit. And that’s when the real magic happened.
This gentleman, who was originally from India and named Sanjeev, had to be on the wisest people I’ve ever met in my life.
I can’t remember the exact flow of the conversation per se, but I will touch upon some of the stories he told me and the wisdoms that stuck with me.
We talked about energies, and “ambience” – he felt that being in a country with less people, made it easier to be more self-aware and conscious of your own energy. He said that in India, you’re constantly bombarded by different people and their energies on a constant basis, and that it was difficult. He felt freer and clearer here, in Canada. He stressed upon the importance of taking in wisdom (like the book that I was reading) in a place with the right “ambience” – the knowledge imparted would sink in more efficiently.
He told me some amazing stories, parables even – like about how Bill Gates, after contributing amazing technology to the world and accumulating an over-abundance of wealth, now donates his money because he has no attachments to it. Also, despite having invented Microsoft, never once emailed. Rather, he chose to hand-write his letters. He seemed to know the deadly influence that this technology would hold over people, the epidemic-level of attachment and dependence that people would develop towards it.
He talked about how “god” is within every person; that people seek guidance everywhere but within themselves and always end up unhappy as a result. That people pray to all kinds of gods, to gurus, to those who claim to know it all, to psychics, to anyone who will listen – but no one ever looks inwards, and that’s where the real growth, awareness and happiness stems from.
Which led to a parable about a man, his guru, and an incident with a rogue elephant. Essentially, there was a young priest who was learning from a guru, and the guru told him that god is within every living being, from human to animal. One day in the village, there was a rogue elephant in a cave. The young priest wanted to approach it, but another man told him to stay away, to avoid the area, for he would be injured if he did not choose to listen. The young priest confidently assured the man that his guru told him that god is in every being, and so he went into the cave. The elephant consequently grabbed this young priest and threw him, much to his dismay.
Eventually, the young priest went back to his guru and angrily told him what happened. “You told me that god was in every being!” he said indignantly. “Why did that happen to me if god is in everyone, including animals?!” The guru looked at him sagely and said, “yes, god is in every living being. Including in the man who warned you to stay away. Why did you choose to seek the god in the animal, as opposed to listening to the one in the man?”
What I gathered from this, is that we cannot be selective in our perception of whom or what has god within them, but we must be aware of what this inner wisdom is trying to tell us, and what we choose to listen to.
He told me about how he was married once, and it was an arranged marriage. And he married his woman in order to satisfy his parents’ wishes, rather than thinking of his own. Ultimately, the marriage did not end up working out, because they weren’t on the same level or vibration. And so I asked him, “how will you know when you can connect with someone? How can you tell someone is on the same level as you, and is right for you?” And he looked at me, and simply gestured towards himself, towards his heart, and told me “your inside will know”.
That was definitely one of my favourite parts of the many conversations we had throughout the night. But there was still more:
He told me how one cannot live, think, or feel in certain extremes because that was also contributory to unhappiness. For example: one cannot solely rely on logic, or purely on intuition even. While the intuition part confused me a bit (because I’ve always believed that intuition could never lead you wrong), I understood what he was trying to convey. He talked about how once these two ideas were on an equal level in the way you approached all situations and parallel to one another, that that’s how happiness and inner peace could be attained. How you brought yourself up another level in terms of your energy. Because, one shouldn’t simply make decisions or harbour thoughts on a purely logical level – anything can “make sense” and appeal to you on a rational level, but does that mean it is right for you? By going hand in hand with your intuition, you will be able to know that for sure.
In contrast, your intuition may lead you to beautiful places, tell you things about the way you should live your life or how you should choose or think about certain things. But without logic? You could end up putting yourself in danger, or putting yourself in a situation you weren’t quite meant to be in, at that moment.
Which leads me to yet another set of ideas he told me one must apply to life and hold on a parallel level in order to live happily – attachment vs. detachment.
I know people who practice detachment out of spite, out of fear of pain, and in order to protect themselves from letting people in or making connections themselves. This is an extreme and rather unhealthy way to practice detachment in your life. And then I look at someone like me – someone who gets easily attached, and holds onto these attachments for dear life. I am attached to the past, my past memories, and I lose myself there often. I get attached to my pre-conceived notions of the future. I get attached to fleeting moments I encounter in my present.
Buddha taught that a lot of unhappiness or anxiety stems from the unnecessary attachment we have towards things that we should simply choose to let go* of.
This part of the conversation made me realize that I would like to learn how to practice detachment in my own life. I don’t want to live in the past, not even the good parts of it, because those times have past. By living in the past, I neglect to appreciate the beauty of my present moments. That’s kind of why even writing these logs is a form of attachment – I have the entire past year of my life written down, documented. I know it speaks of my growth, but it also has some carefully preserved memories that I sometimes choose to lose myself in, when I re-read these words.
I want to be able to let go of my anxieties, my insecurities, my worries and fears. I want to actively watch my thoughts, bar out the negativity, and not allow myself to get attached to any single thought in particular. They should pass through my mind like a quiet breeze, here one moment and gone the next.
Everything is impermanent. By understanding the weight of this statement, the implications of it, I can learn to improve the quality of my life by not attributing attachments to the things that I should be simply letting go of.
Throughout the night, the man would come and go with some new story or wisdom to offer. We both agreed that nothing is coincidence – had I been reading any other book, a novel of any kind, he would not have stopped to speak with me. I would not have learnt everything he had taught me. Had I chosen to go anywhere else, I would not have met him. “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I want self-awareness. I want to bring my energy, my vibration, my consciousness, to as high as it can possibly go, in order to live the best possible life I can lead.
There were some other pretty cool moments too – like a girl sat near my booth and needed an iPhone charger (which I happened to have), and her name happened to be the same as my sister’s. Which is again, no coincidence: my sister has come home from camp, and I can feel in my soul that she is in need of recharging. She needs guidance. And with everything I’ve learnt these past couple months, I’m going to help to “recharge” her soul, revitalize her energy and her faith in herself. I know this intrinsically.
There was this other moment where three girls walked into the section I was in, and one girl stopped dead when she saw me. And she was like, “YES. YES TO ALL OF THIS”, while gesturing to me, my book, and my coffee. It made me laugh, to see how enthusiastic she was about what I was doing.
At the end of the night and closer to the early morning, Sanjeev sat with me for a while and we talked some more. I told him I was planning on going to Harbourfront to watch the sunrise, and to read and meditate for a while. He told me to come back one day, to tell him if I felt the difference between reading in a busy diner, and reading in pure silence close to a lake at the first light of dawn. I promised him I would. I definitely would love to go back one day, to learn more from him. He told me he usually works during the night.
He told me if I continued down this path, and continued to look within myself for guidance, and continued to read books like the one I was reading that night, that I would discover some incredible wisdom that I would be able to apply to the rest of my entire life. That I would always find happiness, as a result.
After I thanked him sincerely and bid him adieu, I headed out of the diner. It was already getting light outside, and I worried that I might miss the sun rise. And then, I smiled and told myself that it was no matter – whatever happened, was meant to happen. And with that, I made my way to harbourfront.
I didn’t miss the sun rise – in fact, I arrived right on time to witness one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing in my life. I walked towards a secluded part of the dock, enclosed by trees and directly over the water, and sat down to witness the first rays of the sun rising over a dark blanket of clouds on the horizon.
The breeze coming over the lake was incredible. That moment… I cannot begin to describe the utter perfection of that moment. But I was there. It happened. And that was that.
I’ve got to start getting ready for work now, so I will come back and add more to this log. Like, the decision that came to me as I was walking back to the subway, the dawning of an idea that I knew I wanted to have with me for life… I’ll be back!