Ghosts. A typhoon. And, rewriting your beliefs.
"What's happening over there?" I asked my friend, pointing to the empty house under construction standing on stilts across from her home here in Taipei, Taiwan.
"I"m not really sure," my new friend Lisa said. "It's been like that forever. Every now and again, a construction crew will come in and kind of just move things around, but never actually complete the remodel or do any real building."
"Hm," I responded.
"But... I used it to lower my rent," she explained, a single American mother of an adopted son.
"What do you mean?" I inquired.
"I told my landlord that ghosts could come through, since the house across the way was never finished being built, and you know how superstitious Taiwanese people are. They lowered my rent by a few thousand kuai."
I had grown up in this way, where we weren't allowed to stick our chopsticks straight up in a bowl of rice, because it symbolized death.
We weren't allowed to wear black to any celebratory occasion, because it symbolized death.
And, on certain times of the year, we would burn gold slips of fake paper money in an large metallic can specifically made for such symbolic sacrifices, so that we could appease the spirits and welcome in good fortune.
Ghosts here are so matter of fact that you can lower your rent using them as an argument.
I stood in my apartment tonight, looking out at a waxing crescent moon and two solo stars in the sky, and thought about the understanding that we are all made of star stuff.
Science has proven it so.
The wind from the impending typhoon howled on the other side of our double-paned glass, but I wasn't scared or worried — simply for the fact that it's called a 'typhoon.'
In Hawaii, these are called 'hurricanes.'
If you said to me, "There's a hurricane coming," I immediately start to get a little anxious at wondering how intense it can become.
But, because I didn't grow up with the language of 'typhoon,' it pretty much means nothing to me other than a big rain storm.
Yes, it means something substantial to the people of Taiwan, but for me, it's like, "Meh."
This is the power of belief.
You can believe in ghosts and make it so prevalent to an entire culture, that everyone accepts it as so.
You can believe in science and understand how Carl Sagan showed that what actually makes up our bodies – the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms within us, as well as atoms of all other heavy elements – were created in previous generations of stars over 4.5 billion years ago.
Or, you could simply edit a word and shift from believing in a potentially destructible storm via ahurricane or instead see it as a big rainy downpour via a typhoon.
What you believe MAKES your reality, and the more that you enroll other people in your belief, the more it creates a pendulum of energetic momentum that it becomes the truth you think you know.
This is why it's so valuable to understand what you're telling yourself.
What the actual words are.
What the meanings behind them are.
And, how many people you get on board to join in on your belief.
Do you believe in ghosts? In stars? In yourself? In love? In struggle? In being able to pull money out of thin air?
What's guiding your reality?