The Pondering Grapefruit
a blog of moments
Well, I truly have been dragging my feet with restarting the blog this year. If April is the cruelest month, then January is the longest. This month contains the start of a new year, a birthday where I now officially feel old, recovery from the holidays and extended family time, reintegrating back into work. Time has felt really dense, and it's taken me several weeks to work my way up to the top and float again, arriving at a place where I can write with a sense of freedom.
So, here I am. I want to start this year with something uplifting. The topic, naturally, is human development.
One recent improvement in my life is that I've bought a dawn simulator--an alarm clock that uses light and sound to wake you up, as if the sun was rising in your room. It really helps with the overcast mornings which don't do anything to lower melatonin levels.
I encouraged my housemate to get one too, and she did! After a couple weeks I asked her how it was going.
"I wake up and just turn my head the other way." She pauses for a second and then says, "I'm like, the opposite of a sunflower."
We both laughed. I thought it was funny though because she was growing, even though she didn’t think she was.
I recently confessed to someone a dream of mine, which is to become someone who brings joy to others, who has an inner light so strong that their presence alone can bring peace and happiness to those surrounding them.
"Well," she says, "then you probably will become that."
I gazed at her incredulously.
"People tend to grow towards whatever they want to become," she explained. She spoke in such a gentle, matter of fact way that I did not question it at all.
Once again I'm going to pull in a plant analogy because that's the only way I can make sense of things these days. Plants grow simply by taking in the carbon dioxide (and water) around them and recycling the carbon into their own bodies. They literally take the air surrounding them and turn it into something solid.
I don't think humans are that different. We are a product of our environment, everything that we integrate within ourselves another carbon added to the backbone of our lives.
I'm starting to see now that almost everything that composes me has come from something else, and not from me.
This twist in thinking came about when I was riding my bike somewhere at night, probably to the grocery store. As I went across a bump, a random childhood memory suddenly rose up, and I remembered when my parents gave me my first bike for my birthday. It was one of the happiest moments of my childhood. I rode that bike every day, up and down the hill in front of our house.
Just then it all clicked together: I love biking, not just because biking is awesome, but because I associate it with a feeling of love and happiness. My relationship with bikes began that way, and so now every time I ride a bike, I feel loved.
After this moment I thought of all the other things that I love to do and discovered that they all have roots in happy memories.
I love to cook because helping my mom in the kitchen was our primary way of spending quality time with each other when I grew up. It was also one of the few activities we did together where she wasn't yelling at me, and was actually quite happy. We created something together with each meal. I loved watching how the vegetables I cut became dishes under her conductance. I haven't stopped cooking since.
Other things: an interest in science and research because my sister would take me to all of the science things that she did, like bringing me to the science museum, showing me her science projects in high school, or taking me to her research lab in college. Science evolved to become a field associated with security and warmth, remnant of my sister’s relationship with me.
And then my love of plants. In my childhood home, we had a very large backyard with a cluster of pine trees and bushes in the back. In that mini pine forest was a small garden where my parents grew various herbs. I would often go to this garden, walk around the pine trees, play with the pine needles, and look at the shapes of leaves that sprouted from the floor. I remember being fascinated by the spores on the backs of ferns. This was what I did when there was nobody else around--plants have always been there for me.
There are also things that go back to when I was a baby. My mom tells me that on the plane ride to America, I played nonstop with the roll of toilet paper in the airplane bathroom. Perhaps that's why I have this peculiar attachment to toilet paper even as an adult. I get a lot of pleasure from really plush, good quality toilet paper, and I find it quite comforting when there is a lot of it available…
One love that I can't trace back is my love for climbing. My mom tells me that as a baby I loved to climb, that she'd pick me up from my nanny and find me climbing the windows with a huge smile on my face. Where the f* did that come from? I must have been born a climber then, but I’m pretty sure everything else was shaped by loving experiences.
This seem obvious, that you would do the things you like, but I've found that the most obvious things, when we really look at them, are the most shocking. I used to think that my traits were acquired through cognitive resonance—me doing things that matched my given intellectual tastes—but I'm realizing more and more than the heart is stronger than the mind.
All these years I have been growing towards the things that make me feel loved without even knowing it. It was as if my body knew instinctively to take me to places where I would be nurtured and safe, no matter what tragic acrobatics my mind was enacting at the time.
If love is light, then we are plants that just naturally grow towards the sun, against all odds. I love thinking of human development in this way, because it feels so much more grounding. This perspective focuses less on what I haven’t been able to do or become, but rather all that I have managed to become. I like knowing that the core tenements of my life were not constructed by accident. There was actually a gentle reasoning behind every brick laid, and sensing the depth of meaning in each wall, I can’t help but look at the final result with a sense of triumph.
About this Blog
I have no idea how to describe what my writing is about. I just write. I post when I can, which can be weekly or monthly depending on where the universe is taking me. As for the Grapefruit, my Vietnamese nickname, Buoi, means grapefruit.