Today was my last day on staff at the Teen Action & Support Center. For the past two years I’ve been working with this organization helping teens to volunteer in the community. It’s been a rollercoaster at times, and I’m so grateful for the journey. My time here has been a constant education in compassion, patience, faith, and perseverance. It’s not that the work was ever really that hard, but working with people (parents and teens alike) in the midst of challenging and/or transitional times, with sometimes very different perspectives and approaches to life, is a great test of the aforementioned qualities. Working with a defiant fifteen-year old can seem quite futile until one day they magically grow up and are suddenly a hard-working leader and fun to relate with. A lesson in patience and faith, obviously, and perhaps mostly a lesson in perseverance and understanding that we are always evolving. Working with neglectful, troubled, misguided, or overbearing parents offers many of the same lessons, most significantly, compassion. We are all doing the best we can to be happy and to thrive. It’s easy to lose sight of that when interacting with someone who seems to have their head screwed on backwards. There has been much grace in my life affording me the luxury of a useful belt of tools in which to navigate this human experience; not everyone has been so fortunate. Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it’s my responsibility to share my tools and use them to help and guide as others have done for me.
As I was scrolling through my Facebook feed today I came across the above photo. I really can’t get enough of how much beauty was captured in this frame. Hummingbirds are fascinating little creatures. Many cultures have unique stories and symbolism inspired by the bird. One of my favorite hummingbird parables is that of it’s tireless and assured search for the nectar, usually found just past the bitter external of a flower. It is, again, a lesson in perseverance and faith. The hummingbird never doubts that the nectar will be provided; it confidently performs it’s mission, never questioning the abundance of it’s efforts. It is not discouraged by the bitterness it encounters, and understands that the sweetest nectar is within.
For the last half-year or so, I’ve been considering the next chapter of my life. I’ve applied for jobs and heard nothing. I’ve stressed over money. I’ve considered moving somewhere new. I’ve criticized myself for not being great at anything and for not studying anything profitable in depth or pursuing a real career. I’ve examined many options, none of which have manifested. The only door that consistently opens for me is teaching yoga. For a long while now I’ve had a desire to help people; to teach them how to thrive in their bodies so they can really live their life. Every teacher I’ve ever had has provided me with opportunity and encouraged my pursuit of yoga. Each time I teach, my experience with my students fortifies the significance of the work and my desire to do it. The door that has opened is a humbling one. I’m finally starting to trust that I’ve found what yogis call their dharma, or roughly translated one way as one’s duty in this life. The Bhagavad Gita has much to say about dharma which can maybe be understood most easily as cosmic will. It is important to understand that one’s dharma is not exactly their life’s purpose, but is instead the path one must pursue to aid in comprehending the eternal part of themselves, or soul, and their relationship to supreme consciousness. The Gita says that it is dangerous to attempt to fulfill a dharma which is not your own. Chapter 3.35 says “It is better to do your own duty badly than to perfectly do another’s; you are safe from harm when you do what you should be doing.” I interpret this to mean that surrendering to your life’s path equates to freedom and security, though not always in the most expected ways, while attempting to take a path which is not meant for you (for reasons such as money, novelty, convenience, etc.) will undoubtedly lead to struggle and frustration.
Perhaps as evolved, sentient, conscious creatures, things like thoughts, feelings, expectations, and judgements have clouded our intuition and thus our ability to easily realize our dharma. The hummingbird is never confused. Despite, and perhaps because of, it’s (possible) lack of sentience, it fulfills it’s dharma with no fears of failure or expectations of success, instead fully intuiting that whatever it needs is available. The photo above exudes an immense amount of power and beauty, and the bird is simply doing it’s thing. How much beauty are we missing in the world because people are forcing themselves to do things they are not best suited to do?
Next week I step into teaching yoga and helping to manage Yoga Deza as my full-time work, my dharma; exciting and anxiety inducing all the same, but I’ve faith like the hummingbird that the nectar is abundant and the sweetest within.
**Fully aware that I sound like a damn crazy loon.