Sometimes it’s not until someone transitions from this life to the next that we are fully aware of their impact on our lives and the world. I listened to Thich Nhat Hahn’s audible book The Art of Living on repeat while commuting in Houston traffic, healing from heartbreak, or attempting to navigate this chaotic reality. It was the most calming thing I had ever heard. This happy teacher viewed every single moment as a miracle. The peaceful way he moved through life reminds us to kiss the Earth with our feet and smile with all three lotus flowers.
My whole life I have been seeking something more. I used to hit the ground running chasing goals, chasing love, or chasing experiences with laps around the globe. Now, life has forced me to stay still. The stillness was the elixir for my suffering. By pressing pause, it allowed my feelings to catch up to me. God found her way back into the quiet alcoves of my heart. And I was finally able to sit in gratitude and awe of this big, beautiful life. Peace is not as elusive as we may think. It is in each moment if we just give it the space to breathe. Thich Nhat Hanh taught me to welcome peace into every moment and treat each breath as a gift.
“Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world, to make peace possible for the world, to make happiness possible for the world.”
As a master at the art of escapism, mindfulness seemed like a foreign concept to me at first. In the western world, we tend to view mindfulness as a tool for productivity. Thich Nhat Hanh showed us the path of mindfulness is a way of engaging with ourselves, others, and the world with compassion. I used to despise the mundane moments. My wandering mind would daydream, time travel, and do just about anything to escape the present moment if it wasn’t meeting my excitement expectations. For a free-spirited adrenaline junkie, finding peace and mindful awareness in ordinary moments was a phenomenal feat.
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
As I look out on the ocean and see the gentle waves glittering in the morning sun, I finally realize what is meant by the concept of “interbeing”. We are all one. As I take a deep dive into Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching, I cannot help but look out at the ocean and burst into tears. Life is precious. And it is a reflection of us all. Interbeing is the awareness that the masterpiece is just as much an extension of you and you are a part of the painter who created it. How can you not fall in love with life after an epiphany like that?
“There’s a revolution that needs to happen and it starts from inside each one of us. We need to wake up and fall in love with Earth. Our personal and collective happiness and survival depends on it.”