How A Truth Saved.
Just a few years ago my sister and I took wrong turn in Vancouver and found our selves in the midst of one the poorest and most drug ridden neighborhoods in North America.
As we gazed out at the people lying on the streets burnt out on drugs and alcohol, there was no denying that it could have been us there.
I grew up in a poor and abusive home. I come from a long line of addicts and self-saboteurs. I left home at 15 when the abuse became too much. It is not always easy being a high school student and paying your own rent. There were many times when I did not have enough money to buy Kraft macaroni and cheese.
I could have easily turned to drugs, prostitution or crime to make end’s meat. I have no judgment of those who do because I know what it is to feel like all you want to do is escape the challenge of life. I also know that when you come from circumstances that seem insurmountable, or you are told your family is trash, you start to believe this is your destiny.
So why not make it true?
But, for some reason I didn’t. So, why didn’t I turn to the street?
There are perhaps many reasons. I have a strong will and the ability to dream big. These are two powerful tools in anyone’s life to create more than victimhood. There were also many wonderful people who helped me out, but one person stands out in my mind.
My sixth grade teacher Gary Panasuik was one of those people you want to grow up to be.
He was kind, smart and always saw the best in people, including me. One day he called me into the hallway. I thought I was in for it. Even though I was one of the top students I assumed any time an adult spoke to you it was to bring you down. I remember standing in the portable of my elementary school and gazing up at him. And, although it is nearly 14 years ago, his words still stand out profoundly in my mind today.
He said, “Shasta you are one of the brightest people I know. You are a natural born leader. You have the power within you to change the world. You are funny, smart and people like you. Please don’t believe what your dad says. You are much more than your family and this place. And though it is hard now, it won’t be like this forever. One day you won’t be 14 and the world will be laid out for you, so please don’t give up on it now.”
Of course, I was speechless as no one, especially an adult, had ever said something this powerful to me. In that moment he reflected the truth back to me.
I was not my circumstances. I was not my family. I was not even my thoughts. If I could actually see past all this I could define myself in any way and that was powerful.
Whenever I was faced with a choice, or the thought of giving up, I would think of Mr.Panasuik and somehow find the strength and determination to continue on my path of light. Somewhere, someone thought I was more than a loser and that helped me remember my potential.
In yoga, we have a practice called satya, and we often define this as truthfulness, as in don’t lie or mislead others. I think of satya as a practice of actually reflecting the deep truth, the truth that we are all powerful, wonderful and pure potential—even those druggies on the street. This is the truth that sets us free.
I try to pass this on.
Not long ago I called a young woman I know whom I adore. I told her I saw her radiance, power and potential and called that forward from her. I am not sure anyone had spoken to her in this way and maybe in some small way it helped her reach higher, or feel happier in herself. She was speechless too as we often are when we hear a big truth.
Each day we all interact with dozens sometimes hundreds of people. What if we reflected their power, beauty and potential to them?
What if we said, “You are more than your story. You are more than your history. You are more than your addictions. You will get through this. You are loved. You are full of power and potential. I believe in you.”
We cast spells with our words so why not become magicians of love and truth? Mastering the art of satya may just save someone from a life of despair and destitution so why wouldn’t we share that truth?
Mr.Panasuik would be proud of us.
Editor: Thaddeus Haas