We’re so happy to feature a new book giveaway!
Please enjoy this excerpt from “A Sky of Infinite Blue” by Kyomi O’Connor.
There are 2 ways to enter to win a FREE hard copy:
- Leave a comment below with your email address (so we can contact you)
- Email us at KOMWriting@gmail.com with the Subject: A Sky of Infinite Blue giveaway entry
The winner will be randomly selected on (date) and announced on our website and social media. *
Kyomi and her husband had built a life of spiritual bliss together. Kyomi had met Patrick at a time when her family life was darkest. Together they switched careers, moved to San Diego, and dedicated themselves to their Buddhist practice. After a fierce three year battle, Patrick passed away from metastatic melanoma. Faced with an overwhelming loss, Kyomi began to write. In doing so, she uncovered unhealed wounds which only continued to come out from the shadows as she furthered her practice. Part memoir, part spiritual meditation, Kyomi shares how, even after losing her husband, she still carries the love and light that had existed within her all along.
Excerpt: Chapter 14 – Living in the West
As soon as I completed the Board Exams in early autumn, I shifted my focus back to Patrick and his extremely stressful and unbalanced life. I was starting to see his drinking habit as inching toward becoming a problem, and I began to contemplate what needed to change in our lives.
Around that time, I received spiritual guidance in a couple of consecutive meditative trainings to become a foundation for those closest to me – which, of course, meant Patrick.
This had been one of our wows and wonders of meditative training. When the guidance we received was properly applied in our daily practice, the spiritual guidance at the next training would be different from the last, aiming for other areas of practice or further deepening such practice. But if daily practice was still short, the spiritual world somehow knew it, and would often repeat the same or similar guidance from a different spiritual guide.
I saw my insufficient application and practice of the guidance I’d received and the impact that was having. The teaching had become the compass of my life by that point, and I’d trusted it through any turbulent times. Now I needed to help Patrick. By helping first him, then both of us, I could pull us out of this ongoing, worrisome situation. When we have a raging fire in the house, first we have to extinguish the fire, then we can think about other issues. I needed to extinguish this fire.
Both of us had professional careers and busy lives. But my immediate concern was how I could rescue Patrick and thereby contribute to our long-term happiness. As I analyzed our circumstances, I realized that part of the problem was that we were both equally powerful professionals with busy careers. I saw that the key to harmony in our house would come not from intensity but through a balance—like Yin and Yang, the sun and the moon, the earth and the sky.
I knew Patrick’s stress wasn’t only extrinsic (the work), but also intrinsic (his perception of the importance of the stressors affecting him). Transforming our minds, and how to perceive these stressors, would be the key to reduce our daily stress. But achieving this would take time and efforts—tenacious, everyday practice.
For now, I was the only person in our relationship who could see this picture clearly. I was therefore the only one who could take actions. I decided it was time to make some changes – starting with myself.
The primary goal for my intended practice was to make our home truly home. Since Patrick sometimes didn’t have time to return to the temple, our home needed to become his temple. I wanted him to feel that our home was his sanctuary, somewhere safe and comforting where he could restore his body, soul, and spirit.
To achieve my goal, I broke it into several concrete objectives and approaches.
First, I placed Patrick as the center of my focus, meaning I took the initiative to lower my own expectations and achievement goals for my own professional life in order to prioritize him.
It may sound like my needs became secondary to Patrick’s. That’s true. But because I decided to do this with sense of purpose and full conviction, it didn’t bother me. I’d known that San Diego had no dental school even before we moved there. I’d known that our new existence there would alter my role in our life together. Now that we were here, I wanted to give all my commitment and pure devotion to Patrick, our marriage, and the teaching.
Throughout my soul-searching experience, I’d known what mattered most to me. Ikigai, which in Japanese means to fulfill both the purpose and fulfillment in our life, could be achieved in many ways, not only rigid objectives. Our relationship and our sense of wholeness mattered most. Applying our teaching to everything in my life – my clinical practice, home, and relationships – that would become my ikigai.
I also consciously decided to dedicate more time to homemaking by reducing my workload from full time to part time. In a dental practice, a dentist is usually the only provider, but the dental team makes its clinical practice. Everyone in the team is essential to making the practice run smoothly. And a home is the same. Someone has to take on the functions unique to each household in order for it to flourish.
So, I decided: I would be the caretaker of our home; I would be our foundation.
After receiving my California license, I searched for a pediatric practice near my house. In November, I got hired to work one day a week by a pediatric dentist whose office was only twenty minutes from our home. I did keep the IHC practice on a part-time basis – I’d committed myself deeply to the welfare of this indigenous community, and I was willing to walk away – but I scaled back the time I spent there significantly.
I continued to make our home as clean and tidy as possible, and began to arrange fresh flowers and frame artistic images from my photo collections, as I’d done in Maryland. I cultivated a more creative, serene, and peaceful atmosphere in the house.
As I dedicated myself to these pursuits, my desire to become Patrick’s home, and his best friend, developed. Since Patrick had left all his friends behind in Maryland, I wanted to deepen our relationship and love him even more. I cooked every day, including my workdays.
Everything I did for Patrick became a work of love.
At first, Patrick didn’t seem to notice any of the efforts and changes I was making. He was always too tired to contribute. Before, he’d always made our bed before work when we were both working, but now I was doing everything and instead of acknowledging it he seemed to take advantage of it, even to expect it.
Was all this effort simply making him lazier and sloppier? Was he using me as a convenient housekeeper? I’d told him I would be appreciative if he could do small tasks, like at least bringing dirty dishes to the sink. He heard me, but sometimes he still didn’t do it. I tried not to get angry or emotional, but I cried secretly sometimes because I felt I was chiseling away at an iceberg, only to have it keep growing before my eyes. He didn’t seem to appreciate what I was doing.
Did I want recognition and appreciation? Yes, I did.
But each time I received spiritual guidance at the temple, the message was the same: “Be a true foundation for others’ happiness.” A true foundation; that meant an egoless state of dedication. So I reflected and kept trying, until finally I became appreciative of my own tireless chiseling works. This helped me to solidify my conviction and transform myself to be a foundation for our happiness.
Toward the end of 1998, slowly but surely, my daily practice finally began to bear fruit.
“Tadaima! I’m home!” Patrick cheerfully announced when he walked from the garage into the kitchen one afternoon.
“Okaeri nasai! Welcome back home!” I greeted him.
Patrick kissed me on my lips and then went upstairs, a bounce in his steps, seemingly lighter than he’d been in a long time. He changed into pajamas, but when he came downstairs, he was all smiles. He’d clearly washed his face and combed his hair as well.
“You look nice, Patrick,” I said appreciatively.
He kissed me again on my cheek, looking into pots and pans on the stovetop.
“Oishi so desu ne! Oh, they look so delicious!” he said, smiling. Patrick enjoyed in employing his limited Japanese anywhere he could. I appreciated this cheerful side of him dearly.
He opened the refrigerator and cracked a can of Kirin Ichiban, his favorite lager. Though I’d worried about his drinking, it was only when he’d used it to numb his mind that it bothered me. Now, it seemed he was just enjoying it. It didn’t carry a heavy energy. And when he sat down and turned on the TV, its volume was not too loud, its sounds not overpowering.
From that day forward, Patrick’s joy seemingly returned. Once again, he enjoyed talking over dinner, laughing and smiling. This was all I wanted: his smile and comfort.
Finally, they had returned to our lives.
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Note: You can pre-order Kyomi’s book now from Amazon.