The lowest points in my life has always been when I haven’t felt a base of trust and have felt powerless to do change my situation as a result. Trust—the feeling of safety and belonging provides the foundation for anything you want to accomplish. I’m writing this and feeling like it sounds incredibly simple as I think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but it feels like every need in the middle boils down to trust: you need to feel physically safe in your location, you need to feel safe in the context of a community, and you need to feel safe in the context of yourself. All aspects of this safety rely on trust—without it, you don’t feel capable of anything. Trust gives you the permission to dream bigger and leap further and feel better. It’s the basic foundation you jump off to do anything, feeling secure to venture beyond your comfort zone. The simple takeaway is that safety is crucial for having permission to take risks, and the more we can feel safe, the more alive we can feel.
The biggest thing on my mind in lieu of all of this is: What are ways you can cater your environment towards providing trust, both your external surroundings as well as your internal headspace?
For external surroundings, I think of having an environment with easy access to my friends and community and support system. I think of a city that has cute little cafes peppered across narrow alleyways, hole-in-the-walls serving up hometown cuisine from all over the world, and urban parks with wide green spaces, the varieties of aroma taking me to my next destination: the brightness of freshly ground coffee to the richness of sizzling glucose, and the lavenders and lilacs of the parkside garden. I think of a neighborhood that has cross-pollination across all lines at the seams: parks serving as hubs of community and serendipity, the local taichi group bumping into the cycling squad and the outdoor boxing club. I think of a home that naturally stimulates my creative itch and nature cravings with art and greenery and questions planted all over. I think of a space for deep focus, where my mind can take off to new worlds and different spaces. I think of a space for decompression: a soft cushion for meditation, a plush couch for gatherings, bounds of spices and sprouting veggies and dark roasted goodness. A space for play and for wonder, for intimacy and for lightness, for connection and for reflection.
Da’an Park in Taiepi
For my internal headspace, I imagine I’m sitting on the smooth wood floor of the platform in a Japanese rock garden, listening to the light breeze flit through the leaves and mingle with the paneled windows. I’m on a kayak in the middle of a vast lake, snow-topped mountains stretching the horizons, the void of noise broken only by the soft breaking of water. I’m in the woods following a worn, yet natural trail, mist gathering in gossip circles close to the ground, the crunch of dead leaves and the coo of migratory birds filling the air with a rhythmic chant. I’m sitting at a cafe feeling the crisp pages of a novel, the ambient sounds of friends chattering near me. I’m lounging in the couch in my home, a large husky occupying the space next to me, the whimsical sounds of a floating melody setting my mind free as the city sky lights twinkle amongst the reflections of my bright computer screen. In all these visualizations, I’m safe, and I’m at peace to explore, to piddle, to tinker and fiddle and play.
a zen garden in Kyoto
What do you imagine when you think about your external and internal surroundings?
This is the 23rd installment in my experiment of publishing raw, lightly edited mini-essays every day towards achieving 100 public pieces. Check out the rationale and the full list here or view my evergreen, longer pieces on my website.