My thoughts today are about how I can feel so close to those across the world yet still feel so separated from those who share my bloodline.
I laughed when Wayne Dyer shared, “Your friends are God’s way of apologizing for your family.” I was not from a close, jovial, generous family. I recall admiring a good friend from elementary school and wishing that I too could enjoy being a part of an extended Hindu family. I knew they got together every weekend (if not more) and ate together, laughed together, and played games together.
I was raised Christian in a liberal ‘United’ family. I memorized the Lord’s Prayer at a very young age and remember hiding my bedtime prayers after my mother caught me reciting them on my knees beside my bed with “What are you doing?! We’re not Catholic!” So I hopped under the covers and continued my prayer silently. She was a lovely woman and only knew what she was taught. For whatever reason I was born with a drive to learn far beyond what I was taught. I was drawn to reading the bible and learning about the word of God completely on my own. My mother noticed this about me and it means so much to me that she decided to gift me with my grandmother’s bible. My 11-years-senior sister introduced me to Wayne Dyer’s Your Erroneous Zones when she was 22 and I was 11. At 12 I discovered Jonathan Livingston Seagull and I read it over and over and over. That book made me feel normal, how I longed for a connection but felt unaccepted in my outer world. Soon afterwards I read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl and Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. From there my reading exploded. I began to read everything I could get my hands on about Eastern philosophy, Buddhism, Native American spirituality, and more, all the while continually reading my grandmother’s bible.
When I was 13 I looked 20, due to my height and serious demeanor. I recall a pivotal day in my life when I decided to ride the bus to a neighboring town. Quite the adventure! It was an early Saturday morning, cloudy and quiet. I had no real reason for travelling other than the journey itself. While the bus trip would end in an hour and turn back at the large mall, I had already decided I’d simply head back, since malls had no appeal to me. This journey was purely for enjoying the view of looking out windows, feeling like I was a grown-up and really going somewhere, and being independent. It made my heart sing to ride that small town bus to the neighboring town.
There were only about half a dozen of us on the bus that morning. I was on the right for easier viewing of the fields and forests as we passed by. Being only a couple of rows back from the front, it was easy for me to witness a senior gentleman on the left side of the bus in a seat facing sideways ask for the time from a person in the first row, right next to him. He was so polite, ‘Sorry to bother you but if you don’t mind, what is the time?’ I was horrified that the person asked turned away and mumbled grumpily ‘I don’t know’ when I could see their watch from here! What? Really? I was shy but I knew this was a moment ‘bigger than me’. I happened to have a watch on, so I bravely stood up and walked the couple of rows forward to say ‘Excuse me?’ with a smile to this lovely senior man who had sat back down after his rude rejection, “My watch shows 8:45am. Just so you know.” His face lit up. I will remember it for the rest of my life. He burst out, ‘Thank you! Thank you very much!” with a smile that split my heart right open. Somehow I knew, even at that young age, that doing the right thing was all the reward one ever needs.
However the story doesn’t end there. When we all exited the bus (all half-dozen of us) at the Guildford Mall in Surrey BC on that quiet Saturday in 1979 I had no interest in waiting for the mall to open. I just wanted to disembark and hang around until the next bus came to return me to Langley. My new friend, the kindly senior man of East Indian descent in the snow-white robes, smiled warmly at me and asked if he could speak with me. I smiled and welcomed him to please sit.
Such were the beginnings of a pivotal conversation with a very wise old soul who recognized in me a deep kindness and reverence that he wanted to encourage. We spoke of Oneness, and Nature, and Family, and Destiny. We sat together and spoke for over four hours. I never wanted to leave his side. I felt honored and delighted and truly heard by this wise man who honestly communicated with me as an equal. He shared of his family, his children, his grandchildren, and the ones I reminded him of. He asked me my age, and after a hesitation, I shared with him the truth. He hid his surprise that my nearly 6-foot frame and wise demeanor was wrapped up in a 13-year-old shell. I remember when a hot-rod car filled with young men drove by, slowing to jeer something about ‘quit bothering that girl’ and I did not remove my gaze from his face and his story, but he stopped to ask me if I knew them… if they were friends of mine. Certainly not, I exclaimed! I would rather spend time learning with him than be anywhere else. I wish I’d got his number. He took mine though, to call my parents and tell them about what an exceptional child they had. They didn’t ‘get it’. Got worried. Scolded me. No matter. I will always remember that wonderfully wise teacher and the hours we spent together, and will forever cherish his memory.
“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” ~ Richard Bach
“Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” ~ http://www.atti-tude.com