Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Wisdom of Elephants

I love this picture. Besides the fact that just looking at it fills me with a sense of peace it also makes me crazy happy. Most of all it makes me think... which is dangerous for me because when I start thinking my thoughts expand in a multitude of directions at once and it's hard to keep track of them.

I probably wouldn't have interpreted this picture in the same way before I started doing yoga. At the end of every yoga class you place your hands at heart center, bow your head and say namaste. Now there are many different meanings behind this word. My favorite is the light in me bows to the light in you. Others include... the god in me recognizes the god in you or the spirit in me honors the spirit in you. To me this picture encompasses every one of those thoughts... most likely because all these thoughts say the same thing. Light, God, spirit... these are all words that attempt to put a name to something that is impossible to be described in just one word. It's an embodiment of peace, joy, hope, love, wisdom, kindness and generosity that is present in all living things. Growing up as a Christian one of the things I was taught is that God's presence is all around me. I envisioned God in the air surrounding me... never did I think about the presence of God in those around me. Let alone in nature.

I'm not a fan of religion, mostly because every religion believes that their religion is the only one that's right. I feel that most religions are saying the same thing... love your neighbor as your self. I used to think this meant treat others as you would want to be treated. Perhaps, we need to look deeper. We need to recognize the light present in each of us... whether we call that light God, or the holy spirit doesn't matter. When we recognize this capacity for peace, joy, hope, love, wisdom, kindness and generosity in others we realize that we are all connected because we are able to feed off that light as well as give it freely.

We aren't all endowed with equal measures of these qualities at all times in our lives. Some people have more wisdom while others are more generous, thus the ability to share these qualities amongst us becomes invaluable. At the lowest points in our lives we want someone next to us with great strength and the ability to lend us that strength. At the most exciting times in our lives with want someone to share our joy with. By recognizing the God in all of us we have all that we need because those around us have all that we lack.

So ... namaste

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Ever Changing Surface

What words would you use to describe yourself? There's a myriad of words I've used over my life time... reader, shy, klutz, Christian, student, cowgirl, band geek, bio major. I wouldn't use any of these words to describe me now. Or would I? These are the words of my past.

Is my past not part of me?

It's our experiences that shape who we are at any given point in our lives. If you play a sport, you might call yourself an athlete. If you a play an instrument, a musician. But where do we draw the line, how do we know what actions are important enough to describe who we are. Just because you watch a movie doesn't necessarily make you film aficionado and listening to music doesn't automatically make you an audiophile. The truth is we choose who we are.

I always had this idea that who I am was predetermined the day I was born and I simply had to discover it. Like I was black box with a hole in the top and every thing that made me me was inside of it, but I couldn't see it. All I could do is reach my hand in and pull out one thing at a time and examine it. I imagine my self saying something like, "Huh, a book. I like books. I must be reader." I now realize how terrifying this idea is. It means there's a limit. Sooner or later I'll reach in and come back with nothing.

These days I have a very different outlook. I imagine myself reaching out for anything that interests me and examining it. I look at it's shape, color, texture and most importantly the way it makes me feel and then I make the decision whether it becomes a part of me or not. Oh and that container I store it in... it's no longer a black box with a small whole in the top. It's more like a clear vase so that others can see me too. Those words that I used to use to describe myself are in there, they're just clustered in the middle. I'm still a reader, a cowgirl, and a bio major; but my current words are plastered to the sides of the glass in a mosaic of sizes and patterns and colors.

My current words might be traveler, hop head, writer, gym rat, baker, aspiring yogi, and most recent... runner. This last word is the driving force behind new outlook. You see in a million years I would have never thought I would describe my self as a runner. If questioned I believe my old room mates would say there is nothing I hated more than running. I was pathetic in my attempts really... whining and complaining... and that was just the process of getting my shoes on. Yet here I am training for a half marathon in June. I've had knee problems, tendinitis and most recently four gigantic blisters (what idiot runs without socks anyway?) and yet I'm still running. Oddest of all? I'm enjoying it. That's not to say i'm particularly good at it, but the process of improving and pushing myself and exceeding my expectations is exhilarating.

George Bernard Shaw said, "Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."
Oddly enough I found that quote while in the process of writing this. Like just now. How crazy is that? How crazy is life? It has so much to offer as long as we're willing to reach out for it. Whether that becomes a part of who you are is up to you. So stop finding yourself... it's too limiting. Create your own mosaic and don't forget that the surface of the glass is ever changing if you allow it to be. It's okay for your words to shift to the interior and make room for new ones; they'll always be a part of you.