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June 16, 2011

How Hanuman Helped Me To Never Not Hope

I recently read a beautiful piece on ele by Julie (JC) Peters about never not being broken. Until several years ago, I’d thought I had a good handle on not being too badly broken. Then I met the man who keeps a map to the place of undone in his back pocket, and I wound up here, heavy on the double negatives.

There was time spent on the bedroom floor and in the jaws of the croc and I surfaced on the other side of a muddy river, holding the hand of a monkey who doesn’t know his own strength.

Photo: Richard Tapper

Much like the story of a woman who recognizes the wealth of Akhilandeshvari and walking the world with diamonds on the soles of her shoes, I fell into the loving arms of a broad-chested fellow who, with a little help from his friends, earns his keep by putting pieces of a once-forgotten puzzle back together.

One morning, I sat still enough and listened to music. Tears, as mine are wont to do when a chord strikes a certain way, started flowing in an unusually strong stream and I found a break in the levee—an outlet for my sorrow in the form of a song of which only later did I realize its meaning.

I’d spent years dissecting and disowning my own character in the name of a love that looked more like a lie as time passed. I often hold onto hope until the last drop is dry.

This time, my blood was nearly thrown out along with the baby and the bath water.

The song that broke me open and put me back together again was the Hanuman Chalisa—an ode to a flying monkey who is completely unaware of his own power until someone is kind enough to remind him of his invincibility. It’s said that whoever chants the Chalisa is granted the grace of this deity of devotion. It’s also believed that the Chalisa brings divine intervention to solve grave problems concerning evil spirits.

I recall a dark night in my third decade when I felt Antigone’s rising.

I’ve not since doubted the potential danger of grief and despair.

Hanuman and his Chalisa entered my consciousness when moving from darkness to light seemed like a directionless journey, and I couldn’t have asked for a more gentlemanly charioteer. My own ability to access grace, strength and ultimately hope was gifted through the sound and symbolism of a 40-verse song written to remind one special servant just how damn special he is.

I have long given myself to devotion and service, and gladly.

Though I once confused service with suffering and devotion with destruction.

And I’ll never, not ever, no more.

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Diane Ferraro

Diane Ferraro, an only child and Metal Pig, has fancied herself a writer since she can remember. Probably because her imaginary friend told her she was pretty good at it. In
yoga, we call those friends our “higher self.” Vacillating between yang and yin, she gets giddy and goes digging in the dirt in equal measure. As a New York-based, worldly-wise executive with fifteen years of experience in fundraising, event planning, publicity, and organizational management, and an entrepreneur leading her own socially responsible communications and growth strategies consulting company, Urban Siren (www.urbansiren.com), Diane is dedicated to advancing the melioration of individuals, communities, and the environment. Looking back on her bio, Diane is a little creeped out that she’s been referring to herself in the third person but she’s really excited to be a part of the Elephant Journal crew as a contributing trouble maker
writer. Feel free to heckle reach her at [email protected] and Twit with her @urbansiren