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Kom Phi

Some people don’t believe in luck, superstitions, omens, symbols, or fate. I was one of those people, until I found my entire existence manifested itself into a single paper lantern.

A solitary moment of fate presented itself to me and all I had to do was learn to read the signs.

Every year, on November fourteenth, people from all over the world travel to Chiang Mai Thailand to join the locals in celebration.

The Yi Peng Festival is a tradition where giant paper lanterns are lit on fire and released into the night sky.

Each person’s lantern symbolizes all that they were and all that has happened to them. It is festival tradition to meditate before lighting your lantern and reflect on what has brought you to the current moment. When you light your lantern you are setting your past ablaze and when you release your lantern into the night sky you are letting it go. As you let go of your past, you make a wish for your future.

You raise your arms high and feel the lantern catch a gust of wind. A gentle tug pulls against your grip. When you release your hold on the past, all that has been goes away.

You are reborn.

I embarked on my own journey to Thailand in search of rebirth via the Yi Peng Festival. On November 14th, 2016, I stood along the banks of the Ping river in the heart of Chiang Mai with a group of 7 strangers, each of us a lantern and a match in our hand.

Nothing had gone according to plan that day.

That year was significant to the Thai people as their beloved king had just passed away. The whole country was in mourning.

One friend had met me in the city to partake in this festival and we must have spent hours asking frantically where to buy lanterns, where the best spot for the release was, and whether or not the release was even happening that year. As we ran around with our heads cut off, we bumped into another group of travelers who were also hoping to participate in the lantern release.

Along the way we passed one girl in a busy market carrying a lantern. We called out to her and she was more than wiling to take us to the stand where she found hers. We were able to buy the shop out of their supply just as they were packing up to close. Well equipped, we made for the river.

As darkness took over the day, I started to shiver. Whether it was from the chill of the night or the looming anticipation I could not say.

Our little group was joined by others, locals and tourists alike. The river bank was crowded and lanterns stared to fill the sky. We all laughed, cheered, and took turns helping each other light our lanterns.

Before I knew it, it was my turn to shine. I took a deep breath and held it in as I prayed. I hoped for a future filled with potential, and for purpose.

I didn’t just make a wish; I became the wish.

I opened my eyes and stretched my arms high with conviction. My lantern filled with air as I released my grip to let it soar.

A gust of wind caught it and it flew high and true...right into a tree.

I panicked! Desperate to save my wish, I ran over and stared climbing a nearby building to try and reach it.

As I was busy worrying about my wish being ruined, my lantern was drawing a crowd. Everyone stopped and gazed upon my wish. A few people laughed, a few ran over to help, and most starred memorized.

My poor lantern flopped around, tangled in the branches of the tree for what seemed like an eternity. Yet, it never went out. A steady glow burned inside my lantern and it stayed in the tree, burning only on the inside.

One of my new friends then grabbed a rake, hooked it, and brought it down. The gaping hole on the side caused the wind to reach my flame and make it flicker.

I ran with my lantern back to the river bank and pushed it as hard as I could back up into the sky.

I was determined not to waste my wish.

My damaged lantern feebly wavered around my head for a few moments, until the wind snuffed it the flame.

Grey and lifeless it fell at my feet.

At first, I felt empty, hopeless even. But as I stood there with my wish at my feet, I decided to learn from this moment.

My gifts create light. My light is unique and special. My life, like my lantern, will change direction as the winds change. I may not go the direction I had planed, but when love, hope, and good intentions release me, I soar.

My flame burned brilliantly when left untouched.

When allowed the grace to shine in it’s own way, my light proved steadfast, shining down on all around it. Once I tried to force it’s path, it faltered and died. Alive, my light filed everyone’s eyes with hope.

I vowed in that moment to listen to this sign. I will stop fighting what could be and work towards being present in each breath I take. I will shine bright un-apologetically.

That moment did more than teach me about myself, it showed me human kindness and brought our little group of travelers close together. The rest of our group wanted to see me get my wish and graciously gifted the last lantern we had left to me.

Stunned, I realized I didn't have to do this on my own.

Asking everyone to join me, we lit the final lantern together. Each person held a piece of the lantern and felt the wind begin to softy tug at it, wanting to take it up into the sky. With smiles that shone through each of our eyes, we released the lantern. Floating high, It joined the hundreds of other lanterns and created a glittering mass of positivity that erupted the darkness.

As we watched it go some of us laughed, some of us cried, but we all felt a weight leave our souls. You might not believe in omens, symbols, or fate but they’re out there.

All you have to do is open your mind to see to the signs.


Thanks for sharing in my journey!

Remember to have fun while flying through this crazy thing called life!

(Brought over from 1-19-2017)

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