“Create Yourself. Be Yourself Your Poem.” Oscar Wilde
I have been working on creating myself and being my own poem for a long time but especially all summer, and more so since August 2011 when I didn’t go back to the college where I usually teach.
Instead, I worked as a nanny at Burning Man, then I started a Yogic Philosphy class at the Ventura Yoga Studio with Bryan Legere, then I started a PhD in Depth Psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara.
As part of my homework for my yoga philosphy class, we are to write down and read and review our dharma every day. And I tell you life has given me many opportunities since February 2010 to ponder it.
We also have to practice a different emotional state each day. Today it’s “indifference” which my teacher also expressed as non-judgement.
Today as I was driving my son to art class at the studio where Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo has a studio to work in a sacred Tibetan tradition of making her fabric thangkas, I saw a woman wearing shorts and prosthetic ankles and feet and I understood a bit more about indifference.
It’s not that I need to be indifferent to what it is like for her to live (and run or walk or dance) with prosthetics. It’s that when I see her, I don’t let it deter me from my path, from my dharma. That I can care and be empathetic, but not be swayed by emotions or feelings and distracted from hearing my own truth or following my path.
I understood this because seeing her overwhelmed me with feelings about how close my husband came to losing his life in February of 2010, of how if he lived, he should be in a wheelchair. Only 5% live when they break their C2, and of those who do, only 3% have mobility–and those folks have fused necks which reduces their mobility in their neck by 75%.
My husband is fully recovered. He’s alive and just celebrated his 50th birthday. He’s not in a wheelchair. He didn’t have to have his cervical vertabrae fused. (If you’re interested, you can read more about it on my Art Predator blog.)
It is easy for me to get lost in the pain, the anxiety, the grief that is part and parcel of my attachments to people and place. One of my most important lessons is to be one who hears the cries of the world, one who observes, appreciates, feels vividly and fully but who is not overwhelmed by either the pleasures or the pains because then you cannot act and you cannot hear the still small voice from within that is there to guide us on our path.
I am still not sure what my dharma is. But at least I am on the path to knowing what it might be.
You can order a custom print of the thangka and message from the artist Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo, a contemporary American textile artist working in a sacred Tibetan tradition. Her fabric thangkas render inspiring Buddhist images in vivid mosaics of silk.