Our guru from Namo Buddha, Tashila, talked a great deal about life and death. The book I bought about dreams from the wisdom book shop taught me about what it means to dream of death and departed loved ones who visit you in those moments. The memoir I recently read, When Breath Becomes Air, talks about the concept and understanding of death especially when it is unexpected and a neurosurgeon’s view on how it feels to be the person holding the scales in your hands. All of these people have sparked an internal narrative for me: we are all born once and strive to live a life worth living until our imminent death, but my thoughts have brought me to my own personal conclusion. We can live many different lives, according to Tashila, and how we act in our present life determines our form for the next: Karma. I believe this to be true, but on a smaller scale. An individual experiences birth and death many times in this life. A part of who I was died when I decided it was right for me to take a gap year. This part of me was unable to introspect and was frightened to encompass anything but normalcy. It sounds rather morbid at first, but another one of Tashila’s teachings was that energy or life does not just disappear. That energy, or soul, takes on a new form. This year has been nothing short of transformative for me. That death within me gave way to the birth and cultivation of my individual self. The side of me who is her own, unafraid to ask for help, emotionally strong, and invigorated by learning. I dedicate the happiness and sense of self I feel to all of whom supported me through my death.