Thursday, March 18, 2010

We Are

This is my view. Everyday I walk through the campus and see these young lives teaming around me, like salmon swimming upstream. I may not walk as fast, but I feel the smile dance on my face. I have already mentally rehearsed my classes and I prepare to see the faces in my classroom and think already what an amazing journey it has been. I found a way to reach them and to reach you here.

While I have been here, I have had the obsessive thought about what the concept of freedom means. It is a drumbeat in my head. Summer is quickly approaching and I am just venturing away and getting out there. My hesitation falls away like an old style I used to wear, but no longer suits me and I have found a warmth as the neighborhood seems to have opened their doors to me.

The students begin to approach this odd woman from the west. I smile a lot because I had sifted through the dust of this place to see their lives and struggles that are just like ours. I tried to quantify things on a scale that was like our own, only to realize that approach is like wearing Gucci while digging in your garden. It doesn't work.

We are the same and different at the same time. I have been amazed with the people that walk up to me just to say 'hello'. The uneasy feelings of a stranger's approach isn't felt here. I kind of marvel at that. Usually, we are uneasy with our neighbors, thinking about reasons for approaching someone. It struck me, that our warning to watch out for strangers in our home countries has to vanish when we are abroad. We trust them more than we trust our own countrymen. Or maybe, it is my own change.

So in the midst of a sea of people I stand out. I cannot hide who I am. I walk around like a neon light with my pale skin and blue eyes. I cannot be who they are. So on my journey I go to a market and see coops with live chickens and the vendors selling their meats and produce and just feel for who I want to do business with. For a moment, I want to buy all of the chickens and free them, only to realize they wouldn't go anywhere.

I watch the smiles of children as they walk with their parents and I realize they have a concept of family we are so far removed from in the States. Grandparents are often the rearers of children as the parents earn for the families. When a person marries they truly marry a family and not just a spouse. The communal life of grandparents, parents and children is something we went away from in our quest for the individuated life. Here, it is their foundation for society. They are all in it together. Their social security system is the family to care for its own throughout their life spans.

It made me realize why so many marriages are not entered into if the family does not approve. It isn't even a thought. Even if they love each other tremendously, if the family doesn't like the selection, an engagement is broken off because they all have to live together. It isn't our way. It is their way.

That is how it is with life, because the more I see of others, I begin to realize how many ways we try to have others be as we are, instead of simply looking and appreciating the difference. With each discovery a person grows and learns this world is not one size fits all.

My Tryst with Chanting

Ever since I was little, the sounds of chants and mantras have captivated me! As a teenager, I remember seeking out audio tapes on Veda chants and listening to them over and over. Each time I heard them, I felt renewed, reconnected to the Universe. Plain and simple, I just felt happier!  

As a little boy, when I learnt to chant in Sanskrit, I knew I had found a way to feel closer to God anytime, anywhere. It was the one thing that could take me to a happier place, instantly. Talking of relative degrees of happiness at that point in my life, I would say I considered chanting a means to something more delightful than my battery operated cars that, well, I totally LOVED! My sister will vouch for my unsurpassable passion for driving my cars all over the house floor, creating traffic jams that now, 20 years later, I struggle to get OUT of each morning!

All those years ago, one evening, after driving around my stately cars, clearing the traffic jams they got themselves into, and calling in my treasured police car and ambulance just for effect, I picked up the Bhagavad Gita. I chanted some verses from it, and then couldn't put it down. For the next few evenings, I had a date with this eternal "Song of the Universe."

Fifteen years later, Dr. Tom Egenes, a Professor of Sanskrit at the Maharishi University of Management in the U.S., invited me to his class to chant for his students. What followed was many hours of blissful chanting during the years I was pursuing my Art degree at the University.

Today, six years later, my chanting of the Gita is recorded on a Website that is part of the Vedic Literature curriculum at the University. Tom shared a YouTube link with me that has a few verses on it. I'd like to share the link with you too.

Chanting brings me peace, even if I don't know the literal meaning of what I'm chanting. That's the beauty of Sanskrit, a language in which merely the sound of every word exudes power, affirmation, and melody.

(Also posted on my blog)


"If he has to, man can live off the land.
He just needs to pick and 
choose what leaves can sustain him"

- Monte

(sorry just wanted to share this, I know it is not the style here, my Dad - Monte's Pop came up with it and thought you might like it too) 

Life WAS meant to be Easy!

I have managed to make some changes to my life based on the notion that if something is meant to happen, it will happen easily.
Whether you believe in fate or destiny is one thing – but you have to agree if you are heading in a direction that is right for you, stuff tends to fall into place!
Opportunities appear as if by magic, you conveniently bump into JUST the person you need to speak to and you may randomly look at a magazine you never read only to turn to an article about the very thing you are currently interested in…
You start feeling amazed at this coincidental sequence of events calling it luck.
I don’t think there is any such thing.
I think life WAS meant to be easy, it is us crazy humans that have made it hard!
Our heads are so chockablock with Lara Bingle’s latest movements, the mammoth electricity bill we just received and the fact that the plumber STILL HASN’T SHOWN UP – that we have lost touch with this simple notion of trusting the flow of life.
The signs are within us and around us leading us where we need to be. If only they were not drowned out by the noise!
Sod off Bingle! I’m trying to listen to my inner self for God’s sake!
Think of a time you really really wanted to do something but every time you tried you hit a brick wall.
You probably  got upset because you had been giving it your best effort, but to no avail.
These kind of events really reveal a lot about your character.
You may get upset and get the “I’m not good enoughs” or you could just shrug and say “Oh thanks for the heads-up, I’m not meant to do that” and then carry on expecting to find the path you ARE meant to be on.
If you ignore the brick walls you keep hitting and keep ploughing away, they are going to get bigger and nastier.
I’ve seen some ugly walls in my time, some that had made me understand why Humpty Dumpty did what he did.
Struggling to do something that you are not meant to be doing is not only a waste of time, it is the fastest track to Prozac.
My advice is to quit while you are ahead!
If it is too hard, then find something easier.
Sarah Wilson theorises if she hears a person mentioned three times in a day that its a ’sign’ that she should contact that person.
Christa Avampato doesn’t believe in getting down about missing out on a course she applied for rather seeing it as the  canyons opening up to reveal the path she should be taking.
If you don’t buy into the cosmic, universal flow of things, then if nothing else,  this is a great attitude to have in order to deal with setbacks!
These days I tend to surrender to the flow of life rather than being in too much of a rush to go on a wacky and spontaneous adventure every five minutes like I used to (though had some fun living this way) . I don’t feel the need to shake things up so much anymore just for the hell of it.
I love following my ambitions and stepping into unknown territory- but only if I am ‘feeling it.’
When I’m feeling it I notice the clues, because I am consciously looking for them. Usually kind people pop up in my path to help me get to where I need to go.
This spins me out, I love it. ”When the student is ready..” teachers really do crop up!!
Since I started writing online the amount of ‘helpers’ that have turned up in my path has astonished me.
From my good friend and wonderful web designer Lena offering to create the banner for my blog when I first started, to the lovely Talia who I have hardly spoken to in my life who is helping me design an advert for my website. The ‘helpers’ list is a mile long.
Since starting my website, people I have asked for interiews have been easy and forthcoming and I just feel I’m riding a wave I am meant to be on.
I’m not struggling anymore.
Let me tell you after decades of wrestling the brick walls it is an absolute load off.
So sing it from the rooftops!
Life WAS meant to be easy!
Turn off the TV and start listening to yourself!
Please drop by my website for some grass watering :-)