Dear Thich Nhat Hanh

cornell-roof

Dear Tich Naht Hahn
Dear Tic Nat Hhan

Dear Thich Nhat Hanh,

I mislaid your address and even the foreign mystery of the spelling of your name in the explosion. The girls’ school papers and award certificates, sheet music, lithographs, photo albums, love letters from my father to my mother, jars full of buttons and odd screws, art supplies and tax records and all those BOOKS everywhere.

Some of the books were yours. They were plucked, charred but readable, from the ruins, and this thank you to you is long overdue.

How calming you were to me during this topsy-turvy time.

Ironically, it was another of your books, “Anger,” that boiled me over like a pot left too long on the stove, unattended. Or maybe I was a pressure-cooker, with a broken shut off valve? Either way.
The resulting fire burnt down my imagined future.

For several months afterward, I babbled and cried. Later, after reading “How to Love” and “How to Walk,” I slowly relearned essential life skills from the ground up, and you, Thich Nhat Hanh, were my patient invisible Occupational Therapist.

Now there are many mornings when my feet kiss the earth as I walk. How I wish you’d climb the forty steps to my little hermitage right now. We could meditate together, with Cordelia, my plump silver tabby.

It is far from Plum Village, but from my roof I can watch sunsets through the golden leaves of the survivor elm. You might wish to climb out there with me? Or maybe just sit beside the window, as the sun sinks in the west?

When you come, I will brew a cheerful cup of tea, and sing you a song about letting go of fear of the unknown, and you will join in on the second chorus, because it is a song I learned from you, dear teacher, who I have never met but from whom I learned to live again, step by step.

Your student,
E

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  1. #1 by Ellen Austin-Li on April 10, 2017 - 8:07 am

    ❤❤❤Jolly has had Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Anger” on the floor next to his bed for over 5 years now (maybe longer). Not sure he ever read the whole book, but his cardiologist thought this to be the best book on managing anger.

    • #2 by Elaine Olund on April 12, 2017 - 10:42 am

      Funny, the book really struck a nerve with me–but then I learned so much from it. (After the explosion which I think had to happen, to make way for new construction.)

      I highly recommend TNH’s practices, one of which, relating to anger and relationships, is that you must, in a close relationship–share your anger when the other has hurt you.

      It is your duty to express your hurt, in the most kind and direct way you are able, as soon after the hurtful thing as you can. And you must try your level best to then let go–of expectation of change or action on your loved one’s part–and let go of your anger.

      Treat each day and each hurt as a new one. Because in a relationship you WILL hurt one another. Often without meaning to, at least consciously. Bringing the hurts to consciousness allows for new energy. Hurts are inevitable, natural, how we grow and learn…but it is how you tend to those hurts that matters. Sharing them and letting them go—makes me a stronger and happier person. (But first, I had to explode from all the ones I held in for years because “they didn’t matter that much” or because they would “hurt” the other–well, explosions hurt the most of all…) Life is such a journey, right?

  2. #3 by smilecalm on April 15, 2017 - 10:14 pm

    a beautiful tribute.
    I believe Thay
    hears your words 🙂

    • #4 by Elaine Olund on April 18, 2017 - 1:06 am

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

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