This month I am fortunate enough to start a series of classes with Elder Kaia Svien. The course aims to build upon inner resources so we can be our best selves in face of uncertainty in the world. With the beginning of a new year and a new job, the timing has been impeccable, and I feel so fortunate to cross paths again with such a wonderfully in-tune mentor and role model and a like-minded community.
In class the other night, like in life, I was so up and down. We were asked to introduce ourselves with an animal movement. While I was thinking whale and moving very slowly with my back to the circle – trying to figure out how I would express water coming through a blowhole – when it was time to turn around and share our move with the group my body went all penguin on me, which is a very happy feeling by the way. You should try it. Anyway, despite feeling elated and fortunate to be present that evening, moments later when we had to share about what we were grateful for, I couldn’t help but burst into tears. The only thing that kept coming to my mind was all the planetary and personal and collective sacrifices that have occurred along the way (some intentional and some not-so-intentional) so that people like me could live the privileged life that I lead with ample choices that I make for better or worse. They were tears of joy and sorrow, hope and grief, fear and love, but mostly of gratitude and indebtedness. After sharing what I was grateful for, I was to talk about something I loved as a child that I still love now. Once I finished cry-talking about my love for animals, like a crack of lightning, I came to realize how ridiculous I’ve been leading my life lately, and how I have lost touch with my indebtedness to those that went before me and those that will come.
Here I am in a big life transition, an honor that has only been grounding and challenging and inspiring, and I have spent more time than I care to admit focusing on the “I wish this” or “I wish that” or “I wonder if” or “if only… I did this or did that or that they did that or didn’t do this.” You get the picture. Or I will get that overwhelming feeling, “well what can you really do?”
Well in that moment of exalting my love for my dog, Yuki, as I mentioned something in me seriously clicked and it’s like I actually finally get it. It’s hard to explain. But I know now, that now is the time, and the time is now. We need each other now more than any other time, and I’m ready to be a part of the solution. I’m not just saying this (I have just said this before). I know that our time is precious and the more I spend my energy on the “I wishes” or the finger pointing or the judgment, the less time and energy I have to be the change I want to see in the world. There isn’t enough time to continue wasting life because of fear and because we are holding back our truth. And that’s that.
So I came on here partially for selfish reasons – to sort it out, but also because I wanted to share this thought process with you in hopes that you will join me in entertaining the possibility of just being once again but in a way that is coming home to our authentic selves and not turning away from our deepest fears and desires and to the fact that we are all connected.
I can’t go without saying that I owe this recent shift in consciousness to a number of people, places, and furry friends in my life – my parents/families (that includes you, Anne!), my teachers past and my teachers present- Kaia, her teacher, Joanna Macy, my yoga teacher, Tanya – and my current supervisors and place of work.
The greatest thing I’m finding about really recognizing that I am part of a whole, is that the whole has plenty of room for all of us – for the penguin moments and for those uncontrollable tears tied to deep grief and pain. As Joanna Macy says about the pain – it is simply the gateway into which you go into a communion with the living world that is fearless.
So tonight, not without regard to the pain and suffering in the world, I offer a toast to celebrate our connection to one another and to the whole. Here is a happy feet, penguin-like kind of a song. Call me cheesy, or call me real. Today, this song’s words resonate with me and I hope they resonate with you, too. Now let’s take care of the world and one another – and for some of us that means starting at home with ourselves, our friends, and our families.