After 9 years and 3 countries, I’m making the transition from expatriate to repatriate. It’s a brand new chapter with new stories to tell! I now come to you from the home of baseball and birthplace of Frank Sinatra— Hoboken, New Jersey.
On a recent tour of Indonesia’s famous Borobudur temple, my husband and I ascended ancient stairwells to reach the uppermost level–an impressive physical plateau that metaphorically represented the highest spiritual level of Buddhist enlightenment.
Supy, a well-known area guide, then led us to a particular stupa, which housed one of 72 Buddha statues. While all of these stone figures have sat watch over the temple grounds for more than 1300 years, this particular relic was special. Supy explained if you touched it and made a wish, Buddah would grant it.
“Go ahead,” he said. “Make your wish.”
While others in our group happily complied, I could not.
“No, that’s ok,” I muttered sheepishly.
“You don’t want to make a wish?” Supy asked with more than a hint of curiosity in his voice.
“No… not really,” I insisted.
I didn’t offer him an explanation for my refusal because I wasn’t sure he would understand. In truth, I haven’t completely figured out the motivation for my hesitation. All I do know is that in that very moment, nothing came to my mind. I don’t have any personal wishes to make. I’m satisfied with who I am, where I am, and what I have in my life. Touching a cold, hard statue couldn’t possibly offer me something I don’t already possess. Besides, the mere thought of asking for something more felt selfish.
Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t reached anything close to spiritually or emotionally Nirvana. Unlike the most enlightened Buddhists, I’m still preoccupied with the physical world and material possessions. Moreover, there are aspects of life I would actually change if I could. For example, I wish scientists would find a cure for cancer in my lifetime. I would also be thrilled if the food pyramid primarily consisted of the three Cs—chocolate, cheese, and cosmos—and that consuming these staples didn’t count against daily caloric intake. Finally, I wish that the Earth turned a little slower so that our days, and weeks, and months on this planet didn’t pass by so quickly.
But in my personal life, I can’t think of a single thing I would want to be substantially different. Truth be told, I would not change my life for anyone’s.
Determining whether these feelings stem from a true sense of contentment or rather deep-seated complacency might take soul searching and meditation worthy of Buddha. But I won’t bother to make that effort.
I’m in a good place.