Do what you love. Love what you do. Transcend limitations expectations life.
Lush, bright vegetation against the backdrop of red rock and striated formations leave you wondering if this is Jurassic Park or Mormon land. Surviving on 3 hours of sleep but so glad we decided to do this road trip.
“If you can’t change your fate, change your attitude.”
“In America, nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you…
…Chinese character. How to obey parents and listen to your mother’s mind. How not to show your own thoughts, to put your feelings behind your face so you can take advantage of hidden opportunities. Why easy things are not worth pursuing. How to know your own worth and polish it, never flashing it around like a cheap ring.” Amy Tan
“She wanted to write…a book that had nothing to do with her own life…she dreamed of writing stories as a way to escape.
But the idea of revising her life scared her, as if by imagination alone she were condemning what she did not like about herself or others.
Writing what you wished was the most dangerous form of wishful thinking.” Amy Tan
“Women want the heel and not the soul.”
“But men are often not as nice as they believe themselves to be.”
Today I learned how to make saag paneer.
Everytime I step foot in the Gurbuxani household, I know I’m in for a treat. I relish the moments I get to spend with each remarkable individual. Instructing us was a wonderful teacher, the kind and giving Nandani Gurbuxani. As I began to chop onions alongside my brilliant twin, Nisha, another altruistic force to be reckoned with, I listened to the stories of their youngest genius, Shanti, disclosing themes from her 35 page novel and her goals for multivariable calculus by senior year of high school—she is in 7th grade.
The dish seemed fairly simple, first the oil, tomatoes and spinach, then sauteed onions separately with ginger, garlic, spices(cumin & coriander?) before blending it all together in a marvelous concoction and adding in yogurt and fresh paneer (cheese) Mrs. G had made the night before. As she brought out the whole wheat dough for the chapati(flat bread), Mr. G (aka “Gulu the Guru”) sauntered in and told me he had something I absolutely must try. Considering he’d very enthusiastically encouraged a strong dark chocolate (to a non-chocolate eater) last time, I was a bit hesitant. This time his praise of the berry-ginger balsalmic paired with a walnut olive oil was spot on. The G’s always feed my stomach and soul.
Each time I visit the G’s, Mr. G, aka Gulu the Guru, always imparts pearls of wisdom that inspire me to better understand life in some way. I wondered what was in store today but like life, it was not anything close to what I’d anticipated. Mr. G’s sister was in town, as I learned, to impart discourse on spirituality at various events locally and in Canada. As I asked her more about what she was to speak on she said…
“Spirituality and the soul.”
“How the soul is impacted by spirituality?”
“Essentially, the awakening of the soul.”
I listened on as she discussed how society today focuses so much on material objects and our physical being while ignoring the awakening of our soul. If we focused more on our souls, the physical and everything else will fall into place. At the age of 72, she does not require any medicine or vitamin supplements. Meanwhile, her friends lament upcoming birthdays and she would respond with “Why do you worry about growing older? Life is getting better! Your soul is growing wiser.”
I wondered aloud to her whether those close to her followed a similar philosophy. Many people are entrenched with materialism far more than the cultivation of their soul…do you get frustrated that they just don’t see? At this point, she said to me
“Yes, but we are individuals. My sister will do what she wants, she is responsible for that. My brother will go and do what he wants, he is responsible for his own actions. We come into the world, part of a family, in order to serve a role but we must remember that, like actors, it’s just a role. It is not who we truly are and we must overcome that.”
This was a lightbulb moment for me. Not so much a new idea as the thread which pieces together stray observations. As psychologists, we too understand that the roles we play in our families are often the roles we play in our relationship with others. As an older sister, will I ever overcome the need to take care of others and feel I know best? It seems so obvious that we are individuals and must act as such but I realized the reason I get frustrated with my family or with others is because I feel a connection to them and that somehow what their success and happiness influences my own. How freeing would it be to still love but be disconnected from anyone else’s actions? We could become genuine and true to ourselves while respecting others.
Previously, Gulu shared with me that in order to be our true selves, we must learn not to be reactive to situations around us. When we react, we are responding directly to the situation and not acting from our genuine self. The truth is that, I wasn’t quite sure how to implement this, but as we consider people very separately from ourselves, their success is not tied to our success and vice versa, so there is less to lose and less to be upset about. It’s easier to refrain from reacting when it’s not personal. It’s easier to love when we do not harbor pain or resentment from previous encounters. As free agents we can be increasingly genuine and loving.
Of course I’m paraphrasing everything this wise woman was telling me and mixing it in with my own spiritual journey but it was very interesting to hear her perspective on spirituality and religion. She feels that when we are young, we require hard fast rules regarding prayer and religious rituals—she compares this to kindergarten and elementary school. As we get older, we no longer require those confines as we develop a mature sense of spirituality. We can meditate and pray individually with our established spiritual connection. Hers rooted in Hinduism.
I really enjoyed this particular view of spirituality and religion and really relate to this concept. I grew up in the Catholic church and at a Catholic school which provided me firm grounding in a moral and ethical approach to values and life. I became increasingly involved with the church as an altar girl and even a Sunday school teacher. Eventually I began to learn about other religions and while I explored them, I would come back to Catholicism in a more spiritual sense. The prayer and spirituality I could relate to, as well as the fundamental teachings and importance of giving back. Going to church with people who focused more on the rituals instead of the spirituality and many of whom, hypocritically, did not practice what they preached, frustrated me to no end. And now I do find myself cherishing moments of individual prayer most.
She mentioned that humans naturally rise before the sun and that sleeping beyond it is not good for the soul or the body. Having seen the beauty of a sunrise, I can believe that it would be a marvelous start to the day. As it’s currently 11pm, that goal may have to wait for another day…
As she discussed transcending societal norms, confines, rituals, I thought of my blog title—trendscend. Going beyond limitations to discover true meaning, true self, true happiness.