I’m sitting on an airplane where I’ve been hungrily staring out the window at blue skies, powder puff clouds and the magnificent gleam of the sun. I’m five hours into a six and a half hour flight to Hawaii, and I can’t tear my gaze from that light. It’s the most light I’ve seen in 2 months. It’s a gift of bright hope after the claustrophobic crunch of dark that is Alaska in winter.

Winter has felt like a hardship lately, but I promised myself that I would work on being zen this year. Life and stress are always going to happen I reckon, and I would like to keep my equilibrium intact despite the circumstances. A person can learn to breathe their way through anything, right?

And then the first day of the new year I was the victim of credit card fraud. And then the flu hit the household. And then my phone broke resulting in a lot of time and energy spent on replacing, resyncing, and restoring it. And then my husband got a death threat from an angry Russian trucker and ended up down at the police station filing a report because, though freight brokering is not usually a life and death business, it’s just good sense to take any message of “I’m going to find you and f- you and your family up you —- —- (insert more f’s)” seriously. And all these things happened in the span of 10 days on top of an abundant work schedule and all that gloriously suffocating darkness.

And I’m not so sure, how zen, I’ve been.

But I have been breathing and reminding myself that no season goes on forever, no darkness outlasts the light. All these things are being, or are, resolved. Just as that pent up, trapped feeling that’s been occupying my days loosens and resolves as I stare at that bright sky and head towards the light. A person can learn to breathe their way through anything.

The truth is that a good bit of chaos and discontent is often needed to help clear space and help us reflect on how we’re doing life. In fact, this past week I have learned that sometimes I do life in a way that comes with high expectations of self attached, and that I do better when I let those go and give myself space to be. And breathe. Because as long as I’m still breathing it means I’m HERE, and HERE is a miracle in its own right. HERE is possibility. HERE is a chance for better. HERE is what it is to be human.

HERE is life.

Even on the darker days I would rather be HERE then not here. And each time I take the simplest of breaths I am reminded of my own hereness and the possibilities that exist within that fact. Un-zen stuff can happen. And we can still talk with Life about why. And we can learn to keep an open heart and listen. And we can learn to respond. A person can learn to breathe their way through anything.

I would like to spend the next 11 days in Hawaii doing just that. Breathing. Slowing down and taking deep, stress free breaths that oxygenate my lungs and release the pressure of the past few weeks. Sitting in the sun and having conversations with the sea about where she’s been and how she deals with so many changes in her tides. Allowing myself to shake off the ruts and grooves I often feel at home and let myself be ungrooved- groovy, loose, and flip flopped free.

There are gifts that come with the darkness- I’ve spent my winter writing poetry about them, my career helping people delve into them, my journey journeying into many of them. But there is healing that comes with the light. And I am ready for such healing. Ready for Hawaii and the blessing of warmth and bright.

Rumor has it free Mai Thais are coming, I’ve got another chapter to read in the just-for-fun thriller I picked up at the airport, and in a little over an hour I get to breathe the air of those blue skies I’m gazing at so longingly. I’m reminded that sometimes we need the light to chase out the darkness and remind us who we are, and I will take whatever grace this beautiful island has for me. Here comes the sun and the beach and an ocean of perspective.

Being human can be awfully complicated and messy, but sometimes we can find our zen in the most unlikely places. It always takes the darkness to better understand the light. Chaos to learn to create your own calm. Struggle to know what it is to be still. To just be HERE.

HERE means we get to experience all and through our own experience of self, better experience the gift of life. Of breath. Of possibility. Seasons will come, but they will always go. Darkness will forever be chased by the light. Winter always followed by the gift of new life when we let it be.

A person can learn to breathe their way through anything.