Archive for April, 2015

Something happened in the city of Huntington yesterday—something pretty huge I believe. The backstory is this: a local business owner had plans to open a pawn shop in the midst of a residential neighborhood. This plan became public knowledge on the tail end of a wave of violent crime in this city. This plan became public knowledge at a time when residents of this city felt sickened, angry, sad and helpless. So a community effort was born. This effort included a community meeting of concern, a facebook group that linked citizens together, and a few hundred signs that simply read “Stop the Pawn Shop” placed in yards around town. People also began to protest silently by boycotting the bar owned by this guy. And guess what? Although this business owner already had everything in place legally that he needed to go forth with a pawn shop, he chose to withdraw his plans. Huntington, this should make your heart swell with gratitude and pride. Why?

Because something also happened in Baltimore yesterday. Citizens there also felt very sickened, angry, sad and helpless following the death of a 25 year old African American who died after suffering a spine injury while in police custody. Some of these citizens reacted by rioting. That city is now suffering even further.

Last week, while doing some ‘yoga reading’, I came upon the phrase “Something is Happening Here”. It ran around in circles in my mind for a while. It whispered gently as I taught my yoga classes which had themes of dharma and living each day to the fullest. And today, as I thought about what happened in Huntington yesterday, what happened in Baltimore, it came full circle. Something IS happening here.

Every time we are backed into a corner, every time we are upset, every time we feel attacked, we have two choices. Are we going to add to the violence and the hatred of the world or are we going to add to the beauty of it? And really…what’s more effective? That’s why the community movements in Huntington are so freaking heartwarming right now. Because they don’t involve threats of violence or lawsuits. They don’t advocate simply leaving town so that someone else deals with these issues. No way. These efforts involve community, digging in and holding fast to the place where we live and figuring out how we can help. And guess what? It’s working. The proof not only lives in the result of the pawn shop effort but also in the fact that hundreds of people showed up at a community forum on the drug problem in this city.

And that’s where the idea of dharma comes in. Bear with me while I drop some yoga on you here. Dharma is the idea that we were all put on this earth for a reason, that we all have something to contribute to the space and to the world that exists around us. Your dharma goes beyond the ‘roles’ that you play in your family life. It might be the job that you do every day to make money or it might not be. I heard this quote last week by Mark Twain—-“The two most important days of your life are the day you’re born and the day you find out why.” Perhaps why this quote was so touching to me was its source. I was doing a tour of The Recovery Point of Huntington. It’s a completely free, at-will addiction recovery center. Our tour guide was a gentleman who was a peer mentor; meaning that he was a graduate of the program, a former drug addict who was now doing important work to help others who were struggling with what he once struggled with. Something is happening here.

Choosing to add to the beauty of this place rather than the hatred is not the easiest path. It takes a little more patience in order to see the results of your actions. It takes courage to stay the path of committing to acts of goodness despite resistance. It takes strength to find a little space in the moment before reacting blindly. But I have to believe it’s worth it….not only to the community that surrounds you but to your own well-being.

If the idea of finding your dharma and your existence’s purpose just sounds a bit too overwhelming, start a little smaller—-figure out what you can do to help in the community in which you live to make it a place you want to live. If that even sounds like more than you can handle right now then think about the subtle ways in which we are choosing to add to the beauty or the hatred of the world every single day….in traffic, getting our caffeine fix at the local coffee shop, the way in which we respond and react not only to strangers we encounter throughout the day but also to the ones that we love the most dearly in life.   That, my friends, is what I speak to when I talk about living each day to the fullest. It’s not about bungee jumping because life is short; it’s about looking back at a day filled with moments and a life filled with days and being responsible about how you are contributing to each moment.

Something is happening here. And it is no small thing. Carry on, Huntington.

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