2017 – Victoria Sunseri

Sri Lanka

From Victoria’s essay:
“During my hike to the Buddhist monastery, I was transformed. I was alone, engulfed in early morning fog, and surrounded by sprawling tea fields. Yet, I was unafraid. This hike could not have taken more than 40 minutes but I will never forget the way it made me feel. As I walked, I allowed existential thoughts to flood over me: Why do we build barriers? To protect others? To protect ourselves? Sometimes, what is the difference?  I watched the ground disappear into the fog, the green, the mountains, the world slide and obscure from view; in this moment, I was aware of the transcendence of nature, the clearest object in sight, a victory bell.

 An overwhelming sense of peace, belonging, oneness, and understanding rushed over me. From my toes to my head I felt as though I had touched an electrical outlet. It was as though there was a buzzing of ozone in my lungs and lightness in my bones. This was when I sloughed off many of the fears I wasn’t even aware of fostering. As I emerged from the fog, quietly allowing the chaos of the world to return, I made the conscious decision to be more careful about what fears I accepted as my own personal truths, and those that are not my burdens to bear.”