Monday, April 13, 2009

Goodbyes and hellos


"Serving the world with love and cooperation,you will find your own true Self.As you help those in need, selfishness will fall away,and without even noticingyou will find your own fulfillment."
-- Amma

Goodbyes and hellos
Yesterday I said goodbye to many of my VSO friends as they went off to their respective placements. I know now that my “family” continues to grow and that I will have many places to stay in India and will see all of the diversity that this country has to offer. On one level I was sad to say goodbye, but when I look at all of the talent that the volunteers have to offer and what they will be doing, it is very inspiring.

I brought my dear friend Louise to the train to go to Gujarat. The driver who brought us to the station could not park and so he let us off and we made it to the correct car and seat. I’m looking forward to also taking the train to see the country. When I was in India three years ago it was a wonderful experience to get on a train and know where it was taking me, but not really knowing.

I started my job today and spent a good deal of the time with the Chairperson of the National Trust, Poonam. It all sounds so very exciting, lots of possibilities, lots of new connections, so much to learn, so much to teach. We had a staff meeting and was able to meet most of the staff. My friend Alan, another VSO volunteer from Scotland is also working at the National Trust. We are the first two VSO volunteers in the organization and the first foreigners. It will be so very interesting for me to fit in, develop relationships, become part of this and our partner organizations, to do many of the things that I’ve done in my work life in the States, although in a very different environment.

The opportunities really do seem endless, only limited by my own filters. It will be very positive for me to be able to see things form another cultural perspective. I really hope to take this in and integrate it into my thinking, my feelings, my very being. It is such a growth opportunity for me and to truly be open. I’m really looking forward to making this new life, but being open to the curves that will no doubt come my way.

I went to an Indian wedding in the evening at the Garden of 5 senses. Things do seem to take much longer in India, in Delhi, as the city is quite spread out and full of traffic. The driver was supposed to pick me up at 7:45, but due to traffic wasn’t able to get me until 9:15. We were able to get to the wedding by about 10:15. As I walked in I heard a muzak version of “Light My Fire”. The wedding was for a female disability activist. Although we missed the ceremony there was plenty of food and plenty of people to meet. Since I had eaten something at my landlord’s while waiting for the driver I wasn’t overly hungry, but did manage some ice cream and some Indian treats.

I’ve been thinking more about how in many cases I’m the only non-Indian. This is the case whether riding on the metro, walking in my neighborhood. I actually like this, kind of yes, I am the foreigner, looking to be part of your culture. I’m reminded of a quote/poem from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

For some reason the above is brought out in my being different but also wanting/knowing how much I desire to share with others, to bring others up to another level, to show other ways of doing things, but also to learn, to find the light in others and become part of that, to add to my light.

I will therefore share with others, my privilege in being born to a middle class family in Los Angeles, to share what I’ve learned and the skills that I’ve acquired along the way. My journey is so far from over, when others talk and think about retirement, not that I don’t, I truly feel like it is all just starting, that there really isn’t any room for ever stopping the work and the joy that I’m finding in being in India and who knows where else in the future. Maybe I will stay in India, maybe I will work and make some more money and then do a VSO assignment again, I’m not really sure at this point in my life. I know though that this is only the tip of things to come, as long as I do stay healthy, and can find a basketball court where I’m living, where I can find others who have similar interests in serving. It’s all such an adventure, the spice of life as someone once said to me and I am just fortunate and blessed to be living it.

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