Reporting in from Chennai

Hi my friends! I miss you. I wish you well. I’m so grateful you’re part of my life.

That said, I’m celebrating this small opportunity to be away. Just for a bit. I’m away!

Chennai is a toasty 85. Breezy. The sun isn’t too strong and the light is filtered in a yellow haze.

Outside, horns beep and honk. Beep beep. Honk. It’s a relentless announcement of presence: I’m here. Now I’m over here. A dog howls. He’s here too. The air smells sweet, smoky, foul. Everywhere, there’s someone. A bent woman sweeping leaves in the wind with a bundle of sticks. A man picking his toes on the crumbling edge of the sidewalk. Kids shouting. Hi! How are you? Hi! America? Tuktuk drivers want a passenger. Buskers want a sale. Men with fruit stands let the flies settle. A cow eats through trash.

Earlier today, I went to cross a busy street. I stood at the side of the road, waiting for the gap and the courage. Traffic eventually slows and dodges and weaves its path around obstacles but still. A tiny old woman with shorn hair stood beside me, patient and accustomed. I smiled at her. Shrugged my shoulders. She laughed and took a step. Honk honk beep. She took a step back. I laughed this time and she laughed again. In a moment, a small resolution formed: we’d cross the street together.We’d watch over each other. We’d get there in the end, to that place we’re all going.

The cars clustered and we waved them around us. We moved like a piece of wood in water. She caught my hand to hold me back. I put my arm in front of her. We navigated the eddies. And then we were there. She waggled her head and laughed again. I did the same. And that’s that.

The Tao says, ‘without opening your door, you can open your heart to the world.’ My whole open heart agrees. But sometimes, a little wander reminds the heart to see the finer details of its contours. Its depth, intricacies, shadows.

And what my heart sees today is this: I’m pretty good at wandering alone. At seeing the whole world from my window and perceiving its goodness. But what a joy to share it. To acknowledge that we’re all propelled by the same vital flow that guides us toward things that sustain us. That we can support each other as we go, and trust each other as well. We’re all heading in the same direction—distracted sometimes by horns and cows but, ultimately, sharing a path. It’s a good lesson for me to accept a hand willing to guide me for a moment. To acknowledge it. To feel that I’m part of the world.

Thank you, world, for having me.

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