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it is all right here
The first letter arrived out of the blue:
Dear Friend, it began.
If you are reading this letter, you are in the right place at the right time to receive it.
Do not worry if you don't understand. In time, everything will become clear.
Just be patient with yourself.
For now, simply keep this letter, and refer to it daily.
It is best to read your letter twice each day. But reading it once each day is enough.
You may consider trying the simple practices in this letter as well. But you should know the practices are not mandatory.
All that is required is that you keep reading your letter.
The letter put words to his feelings
Isolated, unloved, abandoned, and alone.
Everyone feels these things to some degree, the writer consoled.
But rest assured. You are not alone.
– and the letter gave him ways to feel otherwise.
Sit up straight now, hands in your lap.
Feel a golden thread pulling you up by the crown of your head.
Now, gently, breathing in through your nose, fill your belly full of air.
And then, simply relax.
Let's try that again.
In through your nose, filling your belly full of air, rolling your shoulders back and down.
Feel the golden thread pull you up straight and tall.
Now, release your breath, let your tension dissolve, and escape.
The letter went on and asked him to imagine someplace green.
Feel yourself sitting in tall lush grass under a lemon-lime weeping willow tree.
Birds chirp, float, and flitter across the blue expansive sky. The golden sun warms your shoulders, the back of your neck, and your legs folded loosely in front of you.
A gentle stream burbles nearby.
But only if you are ready.
Many have been much worse off than you, the writer continued.
Many have suffered greatly and are still in a great deal of pain.
But they released themselves from their aches, and worry, and misery.
Because they discovered something worth pursuing:
And you can have that freedom too, the writer promised.
But only if you are ready.
Are you ready?
If so, please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the provided address.
Do this, and you will receive another letter in one month's time.
Until then, please repeat this mantra:
"it is all right here"
And that was it.
That was the entire letter.
What the hell does that even mean?
No capitalization, no punctuation, just the words:
it is all right here
"It is NOT all right here," he thought.
Nothing about where I'm at or what I'm feeling is 'all right.'
Not the people, this place, its violence, the corruption...
Not a damn thing is right about any of this.
He stopped believing in 'freedom' a long, long time ago.
He was curious.
So he sold and traded off what little he had in exchange for two stamped envelopes.
He folded one, slipped it into the other, and sent them off.
What is this?
By now, he had read up on every religion there ever was.
He understood the different ideologies, myths, and metaphors. He recognized the overlaps and knew that every belief system held truth – and mystery.
He had tried prayer, mantras, and meditation—Sunday Service, Shema, salat, psalms, positive affirmations, prostrations, and all manner of supplication – each their own prison.
Sooner or later, everyone mistakes the vehicle for the destination. The practices become rote routines and commitments to keep. Hollow rituals.
But maybe, he thought – just maybe this time...
Maybe this time, things will be different.
There was something about this letter and the person who wrote it.
There were no 'prescriptions.' Only suggestions – simple suggestions. And they worked, right away they worked.
These simple suggestions made him feel better right then and there.
At least, there was that.
So, he kept sending envelopes.
And the letters kept coming.
And each month, even though he had no idea who the writer was, the letters eerily reflected exactly how he felt at that moment in time.
It was like whoever was writing the letters walked alongside him, tripping, stumbling, and struggling along the same path he was on.
But instead of sugarcoating the ugliness of the world with, 'everything is going to be alright. You just have to believe...'
The writer gave simple, helpful advice, different practices to try, and hope that life was more than struggle.
Or, at the very least, that there was a path to walk that didn't hurt as much as the path he walked now.
Months went by, then a year.
But nothing ever clicked.
He'd been waiting to rise above his situation. To find enlightenment.
Or maybe he thought Enlightenment would find him.
Maybe he thought the skies would open up. The clouds would part, the sun would come streaming through, brighten his face, illuminating his mind, and bring him peace, serenity, and most of all, the 'knowing.'
The kind of knowing that fundamentally changes the people who have it. The kind of knowing that lets regular everyday people smile in the midst of despair, console in the midst of grief, help in the midst of tragedy, and exude confidence in the midst of such utter, unbearable chaos like this.
But that never happened.
Instead, he sat, huddled into his coat, feeling the icy sting of a metal bench through his threadbare pants, shoulders up around his ears to duck the angry arctic wind biting at every piece of flesh it could find.
And yet, he was grateful to be outdoors, breathing fresh air, even in freezing weather.
Better that than locked inside, lying in a hospital bed, or on the side of the road somewhere...or worse.
"Maybe it is all right here," he thought.
Wanting for anything other than his current situation was a waste of energy. He could see that now.
And besides... what would it matter?
After all, the actions and actors, situations, and surrogates that conspired to create everything that is
– are probably not that much different than a thousand other experiences he could have.
Different staging, maybe.
Different actors. Different scenery for sure…
But not all that much different than what is...
– right here and now.
Of course, things could be better, he thought.
But they could also be so much worse.
And that's alright
Years later… with plenty of letters and a lot of practice behind him…
He finally sat under that lemon-lime weeping willow tree, cradled by the lush green grass of his own front yard.
This was his patch of earth, his yard, the grass beneath him, rough and real.
Birds filled the silence with their raw melody of chirps, trills, and warbles. They flittered and flew, toying with gravity, slicing through the air, cutting across a sky so blue it hurt to look at.
The willow's long branches swayed with the summer wind. Sunlight slipped through long tendrils, throwing splashes of light that landed hot on his shoulders.
His eyes squinted to take in the lake beyond the yard's edge, the water's surface a jagged mirror, reflecting a sunlit dance of sparkles. Like a sea of glass shards winking in the light.
It was nice, he thought.
But it wasn’t anything like he dreamed it would be.