As part of the community program at Sangam we each gave a closing presentation to our fellow volunteers and staff. I chose to write and read a letter to the ladies. It starts with a bit of my last blog post but focuses more on the emotional aspect of the last month.
Here it is:
These past four weeks have been very full. Full of new friends, joy, sadness, hilarity, frustration and growth. It’s been everything I had hoped for in coming to Sangam and so much more than I could have imagined. I believe that we are where we are supposed to be in every experience and every moment. It may not the be the experience we want to have, it may not feel the way we expected or want it to. But this is when we need to open instead of close and ask ourselves - "What is the lesson we are meant to learn in this moment"? What is life trying to teach us? These ideas have been top of mind because, while here, I read Pema Chödrön's "When Things Fall Apart" - this passage stuck with me: "
"Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”
So what have I learned or been reminded while here?
Margo Didi taught me to put the learning style of your students ahead of the content of the lesson - otherwise things will get lost in translation. She also showed me how beautiful it is to be fully in the moment without being self conscious.
Natalia Didi reminded me that perception is reality and that body language can send stronger messages than words. She also reminded me that we can start over each day and try again and that our friends will walk beside us through this journey even when it's bumpy.
The girls in my neighborhoods have taught me that kids are the best mirrors - they will give you back what you give them and they will see the parts of you that you most want to hide.
The truth is every person I've met here has shown me something. Every joyful moment, every laugh, every kindness, every stormy interaction, every frustration, every tear were exactly what I was meant to encounter, to feel, to experience. This is also true for each of you. I beg you all to not sterilize your experiences by trying to control and shape and mold each day. Don't cling to the beautiful moments and turn away from the hard. Don't shut down when faced with something you don't want. I've met you all - you are strong enough to learn the lessons that arise. Stay open - and if you close - as you will - as I have every day during my stay, remind yourself it's not a failure. It's what it means to be human. Then open again to the possibility of growth, and grace and the beautiful mess that is this life and remember that you are exactly where you are supposed to be.