The Head & The Heart: Conversations on Returning to NYC

As a child of an immigrant mother and an American born Chinese father, I find that my family tethers on the edge of belonging/unbelonging. We celebrate American and Chinese holidays, speak our ancestral tongues and have family dynamics and beliefs that are culturally rooted in the Eastern traditions. Born in the ‘60s, my parents have gone through certain events that have shaped them to be the way they are, heavily valuing fidelity, conformity, hard work and stability. It is with those values that allowed them to survive and live the life that they have now. 

And I completely understand.

Sitting in a cafe in Mexico, I had a chat with my mom, telling her of my plans to maybe come home in a week. At first, she was excited. The prodigal daughter returns. I left the call feeling angry, annoyed and frustrated. I sat and stared at the wall for a few moments before writing down my thoughts. I noticed the triggers that arose in the conversation: her anxieties and worries revolving around my health, my perceived lack of purpose and direction in life, my lack of an income source. At one point, she called me crazy for living the life I chose. I noticed how my mom didn’t ask if I felt fulfilled or satisfied. Or if I was happy. She only wanted to know about these external achievements. I had planned on going back to the States after thirteen months of travel to root down and see family, yet when I noticed my triggers, the angry inner child wanted to skip going home altogether and head straight to Guatemala where my friends are traveling to next and I would have a whole other country to explore.

But she’s right in a way. 

While I thoroughly believe that the Universe will present opportunities to me whenever I need them and am vibrationally tuned to them, I also believe that there is a certain amount of action that needs to happen.

I understand that my parents and siblings are getting older. Seeing them in person, having family dinners and conversations, embracing them will be a much needed soul touching experience. There are certain things that I need to take care of with my previous partner and while I’ve attempted to text him to figure out logistics, he hasn’t answered back. Downsize the material items that I have accumulated throughout my life that I now notice after being away for so long were absolutely unnecessary as I’ve managed to live out of two backpacks. Replace some travel items and purchase items that I realize I would really enjoy having with me. Take care of some paperwork, get new identification and cards. Figure out whether I want to move to a different state, buy a van and convert it or keep on traveling internationally. Pretty much some general housekeeping after life decided to surprise me. I guess it’s not how well you plan (because you can’t necessarily plan for everything and you shouldn’t because that would take the fun out of it) but how well you adapt to what happens to you. So I took a couple deep breaths to recenter myself and thought of a few things I was grateful for. I started with: I am grateful that my mom is alive so that I can have conversations with her and discover the contrast in our perspectives, I am grateful for being able to travel, I am grateful that I am now sitting in a beautiful cafe on a sunny afternoon in a beach town in Mexico, I am grateful that I am healthy, wealthy and wise.

It helped a bit. 

I know that this path that I chose isn’t conventional at all. I believe that time isn’t a linear construct. I spent most of my early teens and 20s constructing these 5 to 10 year plans, thinking that what I wanted in that moment would be what I would want in the future. I’ve discovered that I can’t know what I want ahead of time. I only know what I want now. And what I want doesn’t exactly fit into my family’s box of acceptability. I know they may not understand me but I understand myself and that’s what matters. 

Two words on a poster in front of me stand out: THE HEAD & THE HEART. Figuring out what both of these two separate entities residing in the same body want and finding a way for them to both be in alignment with each other seems to be my lifelong task. My head understands that there is some sort of practicality that may need to be adhered to in order for there to be control. And my heart thrives in the chaos of feeling alive, feeling feelings, watching a fiery sunset and feeling in love with the moment, meeting fellow travelers who are on their own journey and quest. My heart loves my family so much and it also loves me. There isn’t really a way to satisfy everyone. The saying ‘if you chase two rabbits, you end up with none’ has been my meditation for today. I can’t please everyone so I might as well start pleasing myself and being happy with my own choices. There’s a Full Moon ceremony tonight involving reiki, meditation and release. I promised myself that I wouldn’t make any decisions until tomorrow, with a clearer head and a softer heart. I admit that there is a certain uncertainty that lies ahead of me, like you’re walking in the dark and can only see a few steps forward. I have a feeling that heading to New York City has been something that I’ve been waiting to do, perhaps waiting for a moment where I feel secure enough in myself that these opposing perspectives won’t influence me carving out a path which my soul feels is right for me.

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