Cherry blossoms on a recent walk • Photo by Brandon Hadi

Dear friend,

Did you hear? It’s spring now. I know you haven’t been out much, but the sun has, and the flowers have also begun to greet us. Welcome to a new season.

In between the sweet sounds of the morning birds, I can almost hear each plant, flower, and tree greeting me as I walk around my neighborhood.

After months of sheltering from the winter weather, and years sheltering from COVID, anti-Asian violence, and my own anxiety, I feel my energy — my optimism — returning, finally. The knots and kinks that have accumulated in my body are loosening, unraveling a sense of freedom and possibility that hasn’t been felt in years.

What’s the difference between this spring and the springs of the last three years?

Perhaps nothing, except that I’ve decided to start my days with a walk around the neighborhood. I want to truly experience the world again. Over the last few years, the world has become an abstraction a concept — that only lives inside my head.

Sure, I can see the world through my window or the handheld portal called my iPhone, but that engages just one out of five senses. I missed the smell of our clean, crisp air. The soft crunch of my feet walking atop the soil. The rustling of a squirrel in the bushes.

Being safe eventually gave way to being disconnected and isolated. Like all humans, I became accustomed to that new reality, even though I wasn’t happy with it. I missed my dear friends, my family, my hobbies, and the person who I was when regulated by a community. Eventually, I became accustomed to that disconnection and isolation. Emerging from these shackles, despite wanting with every fiber of my being to do so, has been more challenging than I’d expected.

More blossoms • Photo by Brandon Hadi

Even on the sunniest days, I find it hard for the energy to course through my veins with the same vigor as before. It’s as if my body is prepared for another lockdown. False alarm, time for you all to go back in and stay in. Body thinks it’s safer to just stay in, permanently. Better not to get its hopes up, it says.

But, these walks have truly saved me. Especially on those days when I have the least motivation to go outside.

So, come with me, friend. I promise that even if you aren’t excited about listening to the birds, you’ll enjoy the warmth of the sun on your face and the smell of the freshest air. But if not, I know that a part of you will awaken, a part that has been resting for just a little too long. So, come with me, and we’ll see what seeds have been waiting to blossom.

Brandon Hadi is a second-generation Indonesian-Thai American born in California’s Central Valley and raised in Seattle. Due to his spiritual and multicultural upbringing, he is deeply curious about the world we live in and the world that has been created by people. He was awakened to his purpose after his best friend died by suicide, transforming him into a fierce advocate for equitable mental health care and systems change. Inspired by prolific healers and writers such as adrienne maree brown, bell hooks, Bruce Lee, and Thich Nhat Hanh, Brandon approaches writing with an invitation for all of us to heal. Brandon received a M.Sc. in Social Work from Columbia University and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Washington. He is easily bribed by boba and easily grounded by yoga and poetry. 

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