I had forgotten how much I love Taipei! From the moment I arrive I feel a soothing comfort. The air is soft and moist and nourishing. The temperature is perfect. Beyond the physical environment is the way Taiwan feels. The energy of Taipei is ultra gentle and you can feel it immediately. The softness, in comparison, could make the energy of the states seem brash and jarring. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country - but it is so refreshing to be not only back in Asia where it feels like home, but specifically in Taiwan, where the energy is so peaceful.
In Taipei there is so much gentleness and tenderness it’s unreal. All interactions, eye contact, conversations, money exchanges and random encounters with strangers are steeped in gentle awareness - a quiet, awake quality infused with softness. There is a respect here, a deep honoring of the spirit that lies within each person and with it a fearlessness of vulnerability and being oneself - naturally.
Parenting and caring for children is a big deal here - hugely valued. You see a ton of fathers and grandfathers walking around with their children, and for new mothers there is a breastfeeding room in every subway stop and airport terminal.
At restaurants, people eat together quietly. I find the quietness to be such a relief. They are totally in tune with themselves and their food - they can sit in silence filling their bellies without the need for mindless chatter. There is a deeper presence and ability to be with each other in a silence that is rich, saturated and pregnant with awareness.
One of my best friends lives in Taipei. Her name is Mei. She was born in the year of the rooster; she is headstrong, yet has a tremendous softness and compassion that I’ve seen more and more of over the many years of knowing her. She works every day coordinating models who come to Taiwan from Eastern Europe. She’s busy working during the day, yet she spends every lunch break with us and after work she comes plodding up with a huge smile on her face, excited to take us to yet another special place to eat dinner. It is an adventure in love and compassion and food.
I realize what a food desert I live in back home; our lifestyles so easily lend themselves to starvation and blood sugar levels bottoming out. Here there is such a radical abundance of healthy, inexpensive, delicious food - it’s almost shocking. You never have to worry about going hungry. It is impossible to avoid eating good food - it is everywhere, super cheap, fast and easy to obtain - anytime, anywhere. You are always nourished.
Every afternoon I have a ritual of going to my favorite fruit and juice shop. I sit in the park and eat mangos and whatever is my juice for the day: dragonfruit, plum, guava and soursop, among countless others in little bottles with bright colors. In the park I watch people do gentle exercises, watch their children play or sit on the bench observing - like me.
I thought perhaps I might be exempt from jet lag this trip. I had big plans of going to the mountain, soaking in the hot springs, making flower essences, and visiting all my favorite places around the city right away during this first week. But then jet lag forced me to hit the breaks. I should've known better anyway, as I had promised myself a week of deep rest.
Back at home I was running at such high speeds, processing and putting out tremendous energetic output for months on end. As we got closer to the book launch, I actually ran so low on energy, that I needed to source it from the future in exchange for promises of rest. So I’m doing my time in trade with myself (you know the exhaustion is bad when the only thing on your to do list is to take a shower, and you don’t even manage that). For a couple days I was stuck to the couch or the bed in the apartment I stayed at. As one of my dear friends says, “Sometimes resting is the work.” Sometimes it’s more important to put aside your plans and just nurture your body and mind and rest.
After a week in Taipei, when it came time for my flight to Singapore … I was refused onto the plane, because six months of validity on your passport is required and mine expires in five. As a result, I met beautiful new friends in Taipei.
I met a gorgeous young couple that invited me to their organic tea farm in January when I come back. This gorgeous yellow flower will be in full bloom then (Taiwanese flower essences of supreme gentleness, anyone?) - they sent me this photo from the farm. Beautiful!