Peace of Mind

Anvy Tran

November 10, 2012

As far back into my childhood as I can remember myself dealing with sadness, frustration or hopelessness, the solution of my choice has been to sleep.It is what has always come the most naturally to me. What better place to escape the wears-and-tears of everyday life than in a dream world. I love my dream world. I like to wander through my mind enough when I am awake, but it can become exhausting when you are consciously aware of how high, wide, and far you’re going and that, yes, eventually you are going to have to return. 

But in my dreams I am unaware there is another world to return to, and here, I am the most free. I have faith in my instincts. I am effortlessly forgiving of myself. I am accepting of my thoughts, desires, and emotion. Negative thoughts of jealousy, anger, and greed are not pushed aside and left un-dealt with but given love and reassurance. Acceptance here! How different I am towards my
negativity when I am awake…

And for the first few hundred times I would use sleep as a solution, I’d wake up, be able to release the sadness, frustration, or hopelessness I felt because I had just been to a beautiful wonderland. Euphoric and high from a delightful, intriguing adventure or a vivid, unsettling nightmare, I would feel much more at ease and balanced.

I didn’t know then what I know now: that dreams subconsciously had given me self-acceptance, and in turn provided my body and mind with the courage to live.

But like any other medicine you take too many times, the healing power of my dreams began to grow weak, and their effect on me was lessening. But I still had these feelings of anger, pain, and self-hatred that I needed to be saved from! What was I to do?

Being the good addict, that I am, I took more and more sleep…and it helped. I mean, I wasn’t reaching the levels of self-assurance that I once was able to obtain after I woke, but I was reaching satisfactory and well, that was still enough for me.

With time, sleep became what I took because I was so used to it. It was the norm for me. Then, it became what I uneasily took, but I didn’t think too much of it…it was still doing something for me.

One of the saddest moments of my life has to be when I began begrudgingly put myself to sleep. What once had been so pure, untouched by evil, I had turned into poison. And poison, it felt like indeed. I couldn’t wait until I became tired enough to sleep. I couldn’t be awake without wanting to be asleep. I hated waking up. I hated living in the world. So much violence, selfishness, and tragedy existed, and to top it off I couldn’t stand myself. I just wanted to be gone from this place.

I felt terrible, confused. My soul was sick. It was embedded with the loathing, anger, and hopelessness that I chose to neglect to care for every time I ran off to my dream world. My dream world is truly, very real to me but as I learnt, so is this one.

My life went on and things got better, the way they only can when you’ve reached rock bottom. Things got a lot better as I was adjusting and adapting and became more loving towards myself. I still hadn’t realized this was the key though. I remember how surprised I was as I became mysteriously more comfortable and happy.

And when I left the place I grew up in, and went running for another, I brought my uncertain happiness with me, never knowing when I would lose it because I didn’t know what was fueling it.

I carried it with me to Quito, where I noticed that if I was left alone with my mind for too long, my thoughts would be twanged with uneasiness and my mind would feel suffocated, caged by these terrible thoughts. But there is enough to do in Quito, enough friends to keep your mind occupied and protected. It wasn’t hard to ignore my inner-tension; every time I began to feel queasy in my head I would just find something to do to distract it.

Then I came to Achupallas. Achupallas is a small village in the mountains of Imbabura. The only word that I have ever heard people describe this place is tranquilo. Some people like peace, quiet, and calmness but I am impatient, erratic, and easily bored by birth. Tranquilo is the last thing I wanted. But I was pleasantly surprised; my family of six children fills the house with shrieks of laughter, a playful atmosphere, and much love and joy from the moment they get up at 4 o’clock in the morning until they go to bed at 9 o’clock at night (my nightlife consists of attacking the many moths in my room). Having no heat in my house means having the constant entertainment of coldness, which is useful to keep my mind happy in the mornings when it’s being numbed before, during, and after a shower. All is good in the house since there is enough chaos for me to delight in and consistent crying from my younger brother Kury throughout the day. I work for an organization called Jirugta Ucinqui that unites and supports indigenous farmers of 22 different communities around my area. My dad is even President of Jirugta Ucinqui so I was hoping to see him make some people uncomfortable with his power but unfortunately my dad is respectful, kind, and helpful. And I’m also just like everyone else so I don’t get to follow him around and cackle at people.

I work in the Achupallas location where I am building a greenhouse. I like taking care of things, and I especially like medicinal plants (due to my great interest in traditional medicine), which we are currently planting. My supervisor,  Matias, and I consist of the number of people that makes us eligible to use the word we. It is just us two in a giant field. And since plants are so needy, we constantly have to work to care for them. While he gets to do all the cool stuff, I still have to learn the basics of plant nurturing. This consists of weeding but not the strenuous kind where you can go crazy and run around pulling everything but the kind where what you’re weeding is so light and tiny that you have to be delicate, careful, and watchful not to uproot the plant that is in the center. At first I liked doing this because it gave me plenty of time to daydream, wander in and out of fantasies while I could tan in the daring Ecuadorian sun. But too much time in my head brings out the worst in me, and it became torture to be spending all these hours stuck in sick fantasies. My mind had become such a dangerous place for me to venture too long in.

A couple weeks have passed and here I am now. I have realized that I haven’t been able to be stay in my head for too long because I had been intolerable and disgusted towards some of my feelings and reactions. I had shame in how I felt and how I acted. But in a place like Achupallas, that could either drive a person like me mad or towards a greater understanding, I had discovered that through a little patience and self-reflection “to love all my thoughts, even those that are limited or fearful. To think of them as small children needing my love and reassurance.” Instead of criticizing myself for my thoughts of jealousy, greed, and displeasure I have learned to accept them as part of who I am. For surely I do have both good and wickedness within me!

Without being in Achupallas I don’t think I would have realized this for a very  long time. Back in Boston, I had many superficial things to entertain me, to keep me happy in the moment, not knowing how to make happiness from within. I had an agitated mind, not understanding the importance or how to obtain self-love. I don’t think I ever had much of a chance to discover this in Boston. But here, everything is so much clearer, when you don’t have a million things to make you happy, to cloud your judgment. You either create freedom from within yourself or create bondages. I think this is peace of mind! How strange it feels

Anvy Tran