Once, when feeling like everything was wrong, I shared my misery with Aki:
"It is a good thing I sit in a small private office with lots of Kleenex. These walls have heard much more of my own angst than anyone else’s. Today, I honestly don’t know what it looks like/feels like to love myself. It’s just not there. It’s not that I hate myself, but... truth is: my body – it’s just a mundane vehicle, my intellect – nothing special there, my feeling capacity and emotional response – completely whacked on overdrive. But then, these are just dark thoughts that will clear in time – as you are certain to remind me."
Then, my mood changed and the room seemed to light up when I peeled a tangerine – and the fragrance squirting into the air was so beautifully intense. The fruit was a beautiful color – a radiant orange, and the taste…with "the sweet/tart crushing mix of citrus and saliva…" was exquisite. The tangerine was perfectly ripe, so beautiful, so delicious.
This reminded me of Aki’s wisdom from another day...“We are all ripening in our own way, at our own pace. Ripening is going on all around us, naturally, ineluctably. Eventually we let go and drop -- pure, beautiful, ripe, juicy -- into open space. Existence is fully awake already, just waiting for us to drop into emptiness.”
"When life gets heavy, look for the tangerine. It's always there somewhere, in some form, ready to tickle our nose with its fragrance, delight our eye with its color, inspire us, remind us that the most important things in life are often the simplest. There is a lot of love in a tangerine. Imagine it, all the sunlight, warm breezes pollinating impossibly fragrant blossoms, all the water, the minerals in the soil, all the pruning, the farm worker harvesting, the driver transporting, longshoremen unloading, grocer displaying, all forms of love. Look for the tangerine. It may appear in the form of a person, a pair of eyeglasses or a pencil, a sound or a smell. Look for that golden gift that is so ordinary, and always at your elbow, as close to you as your breath.
Self-love no one can do for you. The willingness is all, just be willing to love yourself just as you are - however that may look and feel at the moment. You extend such love to others. In just the way you give it to others, extend it first to yourself, and then you will see how much more becomes available to those around you.
By the way, have you ever met a fatigued or stressed out tangerine, or one suffering from low self esteem? I have not met one, and I have eaten a lot of tangerines!"