YOP – August

Around the village bursts of pink add life. Peach trees that have been dead and brown for months now resemble something of beauty with small flowers jutting out of the unenthusiastic branches. Although they will bear delicious juicy fruit come January, the pink blossoms are now just a symbol of spring. They resemble the April’s cherry blossom season in Washington, D.C.

The flowers are hope. They are here to tell me and everyone else that winter’s harshness is gone and that summer, with it’s dreaded heat and unending sunshine, is coming. It means earlier days and later nights. It means dirtier feet because I can now wear my beloved Chacos. It means skirts and tank tops. It means another season to invest hope.

As I sit down to write my monthly YOP wrap-up, I am not sure what to say about August. When I think about all the emotions that occurred in this set of 31 days, I feel as if it should have been 62.

I am trying to sort out the emotional mess that is my mind. One by one, I am distracted by a new theme and concentration as if I was untangling cords, trying to find the one that would unravel the whole heap. Focus was the start, then expectations, then being a loving person, then feeling beautiful. All of my faults and insecurities came screaming out and, as if I hadn’t noticed them before, I find myself failing at being a human.

But, I am not. I just have to let go on the expectations of perfection, focus on now, love when it is difficult and remind myself that I am not only not failing at being human, I am actually doing an OK job.

How does any of this relate to presence? Because all of those themes – focus, expectations, loving a person, feeling beautiful – require me to stop looking back and stop looking forward. I need to be here to feel those things.

In many ways, this was my biggest month for presence, and personal growth. I understand it more than ever. The other morning, during break, I needed to talk to a village woman about an upcoming meeting. I grabbed a cup of hot water from the staff room and walked slowly across the schoolyard. I sipped my cup and felt the ground upon my feet. I smiled at the sky and allowed the peach blossoms to memorize me. The mountains, the same ones I’ve seen every day for the last nine months, forced me to stop and appreciate them.

All the confusion and frustration on August accumulate to this moment of presence. Nothing mattered but the moment.

September is my last of month of 27, and I am dreading this birthday, another reminder that my 20s are almost gone and I am still wandering. I want to cherish this last bit of a younger age, enjoy it without feeling anxious or worried about problems I can’t see or fix.

And maybe that was the intent of August, a final boot camp in presence so that I can enjoy each moment of the next month. It was the headlock around the next, obliging me to stare at those beautiful flowers and respect them. And I needed it.

To September.

What are your plans for the month? Maybe it’s to enjoy your own changing colors or drink something pumpkiny. Maybe it’s a visit to an orchard or attend a home game of your favorite team. I want to know. Share your intentions for the next month and we can use each other to accomplish them.

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