I will explain this image in a bit, but I’m going on a circle of thought here.
I probably didn’t have solid expectations or plans this year, but I certainly did not expect this turn out. There are some opportunities in life that I am open to, like continuing my education at the graduate level or traveling, but I haven’t made real plans to make any of that actually happen, and with coronavirus as a huge economic factor this year, those opportunities slowly moved down the priority list for me. I got caught up with job searching, then keeping up with work once I found something to do, then completing the extra coursework I started, and then I guess that seemed like a good time to start another art project. So, that was probably the train of thought which led me to where I am today.
On the other hand, I didn’t know that coronavirus would have the impact around the world that is has made by the end of an entire year. I could have never known or imagined that the virus would put the world in lockdown or take the lives of millions of people worldwide because I have never lived through anything like this. In America, covid was speculated as a conspiracy and it was further politicized by the media as well as the White House (How can anyone ignore how the president continually brushed it off by saying the “China virus” would just “disappear” and “go away” by “April with the heat” and then got covid as a result of ignoring social distancing precautions while rallying for reelection). Regardless of your political stance, that was not responsible leadership or taken very seriously, and this really could have been the time for a leader to unify us and encourage each other to get through this hardship, and it disappoints me that this was used in the advantage to confuse and divide us.
Despite some personal setbacks, I have been fortunate to have my basic needs met and to have a normal suburban life that was not completely turned upside down, and this year has made me really appreciate the big little things in life. In my down time, I have been able to explore art again and to reflect on life to really explore my faith. It also surprised me that I took the leap of faith to come to Christ because I didn’t start the year seeking anything in particular, but that faithful decision changed the outcome of my year and my life. When I think about what’s happening or what’s going to happen, I am no longer overly anxious because I trust in God to lead me and I do not lean on Trump.
The coronavirus is real and it has the potential to cause great harm, so please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. This Christmas Eve, there was a family member who passed away from covid. My thoughts and prayers really do go out to the immediate family, but what can I do from a safe social distance besides contribute to the Gofundme page? Well I also shared the link. Now, I am sharing a thought tangent in this written reflection which I hope is not too far out there. Just to be clear, I don’t always think about death. Like I‘m not hopelessly depressed or think obsessively about dying. Sometimes I wonder, but what comes across my mind is what really happens at that moment because there’s a time for everyone.
One thought that has come to my mind lately is that if I was born into a Buddhist family, am I still bound to a Buddhist fate or am I saved by Christ? Okay, that thought is really far out there, but it’s important to me. In Buddhism, there is an illustration of the circle of life, or the realms of the world, or Samsara. The image shows a circle of the realms that is held by a powerful being, and outside of this circle is an enlightened one. Are you free from this cycle if you are enlightened? I’m not enlightened, but sometimes I really wonder about these things. Like I might not be awoken, but am I aware enough? Because this is not a normal thought. Most Buddhists do not constantly think about enlightenment and are not overly spiritual or religious, but they do respect monks and their ancestors and strive to live good lives in the present moment. Many have probably seen this image at some point, but don’t necessarily navigate life by it because it’s not in the forefront of anyone’s mind when we return to everyday life.
When I change my worldview from east to west, and when I read biblical scripture, there is a grand revelation about Jesus that can help guide Christians with their own questions about life. In the book of Ecclesiastes, the Bible says, “Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself? Do not be excessively wicked and do not be a fool. Why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp one thing and also not let go of the other; for the one who fears God comes forth with both of them” (Ecclesiastes 8:16-18). I am not writing about this to try to appear wise or cool, and if anything, I’m actually shy about writing or expressing myself at all. The reason why I included scripture was to guide this thought, not to appear righteous because my understanding is limited and I come to God with my questions about how to navigate life in both worlds.
It’s not just an eastern mindset vs. western, believing in Buddhism vs. Christianity, thinking about living life vs. after life, whether you hold Democratic values vs. Republican, or any other means of social division. Maybe we could all get along or at least be able to cooperate with one another if we think about what really matters in life, or at the end of life, but our problem as people is that we don’t really acknowledge our shared values or goals. We haven’t just socially distanced this year, but we’ve also allowed ourselves to become socially divided. We tend to highlight our differences, but we don’t have to look at things as opposites. Sometimes we lack context or understanding or compassion for each other, and regardless of your political or religious stance, we all exist in the same reality where we go on with our daily lives and some day we will exit. What happens beyond that moment is of faith.
There are a lot of factors and perspectives and scenarios that I did not include, but I hope that this thought was not too far out there or culturally unaware or insensitive, and I apologize again if I am. I shared this image to help explain what I am trying to understand, but I am by no means trying to change or challenge anyone’s beliefs or worldview. I’m also not sure if my thoughts and prayers mean anything to you, but I hope you will have a better year ahead of you.