I love reading and I’m an avid reader, but I’m also a slow reader. I like to take time while enjoying my books. Depending on what moment of my life I’m living, I find reading the most suitable and easiest therapy, an economical one too. Reading “You Are Here” by Vietnamese Thich Nhat Hanh has been such a beneficial activity of mine, and I’d love to share with you what and how this book has been good to me. This could be useful to creatives too, who are sometimes in the loop of the FOMO lifestyle.
As a Zen monk, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches the importance of being alive and mindful in the present time. I decided to read this book because I wanted to know more about Buddhism. I have a great friend who is Buddhist and I wanted to know more about her culture. She is very private and doesn’t share a lot of details when it comes to her religion, but in order to understand her more and I took the effort to read a book based on Buddhist lessons that could both help me understand my friend’s culture as well as sharpen my meditation’s method, which includes silence and listening.
“We must live every moment with death and life present at the same time. Both death and life are happening at every instant in the river of our physical body” is one of my favourite quote in “You are here“. This is a book mostly about self-love and self-growth, but I tried to read between the lines and tried to see also what some of these words could actually be useful in my own life, as a fashion journalist.
Journalism is fast and dynamic, but at the same time it has to be taken slowly and with the right mindset. There are actually no rights or wrongs in journalism, unless it’s about ethics and transparency, which must be practiced under any circumstances by journalists. It is important to consider all the facts and the data given around a specific situation, in order to give little space to assumptions: these latter are in fact false perceptions, most of the times. Sometimes we take external situations personal and we suffer because of them. There’s no need to do that. It is good to take steps back, take time to analyze, write, and speak up, and show up only once you got all the material with you. “In most cases, our perceptions are inaccurate, and we suffer of them. Look at your perceptions and smile to them“, says Thich Nhat Hanh in the second chapter of the book, a section called “The Heart of Practice“.
In the same chapter, Thich Nhat writes: “Freedom is the basis of all happiness.” This one hit me hard. It is not only a life pill to swallow and digest, but also a reminder that being free is what makes people glad to be alive. All journalists have the privilege to be in an industry where writing and expressing their opinions is a requirement and an aspiration: not many people, even some journalists coming from different places than the United States, are able to access to this privilege. There are a lot of rules in journalism when it comes to writing, dealing with clients, corporations, agencies, and editors. However, this is a job that allows you to exercise your writing, your use of words, and it is amazing to get paid for typing words that can shape a nation, a generation, someone’s mind: isn’t it?
There are tons of errors that have been made in the past. Blackface, gender-elitism, lack of body positivity make up a bunch of the things that happened in the history of fashion. Some of us are ready to change this. We must acknowledge what went wrong and change it, now. It is not possible to go back and fix the past in the past. We must be in the present, study the past, and learn from it. We can only fix the past by being present and mindful in the acts we lan to make. I think that this attitude should be more and more adopted in the fashion industry. “The past is an object of our study, of our meditation, but the way to study it or meditate on it is by remaining anchored in the present moment“, explains the writer in chapter three, named “Practicing Skillfully with Our Past“.
Of course, this works in your personal life too. For love, family, friends: anything. “We may think that there isn’t anything we can do about the past anymore, but there is.“
On mental health
“In order to love, we must be here, and then our presence will embrace the presence of the other person. Only then will they have the feeling of being loved” (Chapter Five, “Cultivating True Love“). I can’t stress enough how essential this point is. This note goes for your love life, but also and probably mostly, to your external relationships, those you have with anyone except yourself. You are by nature always present for yourself, but you must be present and willing to give ears to others too.
“… the fact that you recognize the presence of the other person and their suffering, will give them a great deal of relief“. As a college student, I’ve been through a lot in terms of getting to know myself and to understand my needs. I’m so glad to have many moments just for myself, because that was the only way with which I could come later to my friends with a better disposition. I could listen to them, be there for them, as well as take care for myself.
In addition to my personal life, this particular chapter on love showed me how much I should be present in journalism and fashion, which I claim to be my passions. Due to their fast and rough intensity, there have been times when I wasn’t able to keep it up with the news in fashion nor I could channel all my interests at once with the right instruments or information. It took me time to understand how to do it, and I’m still on a journey. I want to master my curiosity and transparency among my passions, but I need to sharpen more and more my skills. One of these skills is indeed to be present, by actively engaging with both my peers and my mentors. This is the only way I learn and build my community, and grow with a solid personality.
I hope you guys can read this book. It’s very enlightening. It will help you heal, be a better individual, and a person full of compassion, no matter what you’re going through.
the curly flower