July 11, 2016

Dharma & the Gift of Failure.


My daughter is a hip hop dancer. Seven days a week: eat, sleep, dance, repeat.

She’s quite good. I love to watch her dance.

Inevitably after a show, people seek me out to tell me the same thing: “I just love to watch your daughter dance.”

Is she the best dancer out there? No.

Does she dance just to hear people say this? No.

She does it because she can’t not do it—and she is brave enough to go all in.

She just finished her sophomore year of high school. She’s known her plan for some time now—to take a year after high school, move to Los Angeles and commit to professional dance completely. To immerse herself in the mecca of hip hop. She believes supporting herself however she can, so that she can dance every day, is the ideal life. And that getting paid to dance—to do what she loves most—would be the ultimate career.

Does this scare me as a parent? Yes, of course. My daughter grew up in a little town in Vermont. She isn’t exactly worldly. Resourceful, hardworking, dedicated? Yes. Street smart? Not as much as other people her age—and that’s scary.

But I am not afraid of her devoting her whole self to this pursuit and putting all her eggs in the dance basket. I’m not afraid that she may or may not go to college. And I’m not afraid she will reach for her dream and fail.

It’s not because I am naive enough to believe she can’t fail—but because I fully believe that if she does, she was after a dream that may have been close, but wasn’t hers. The universe will always move her—all of us—in the direction of dharma. And sometimes that means failing big.

It’s too late for us to choose our dharma. It’s done.

I have no doubt that right now, dancing is my daughter’s right path. I feel it as I witness her absolute knowing. Rumi talks of two types of knowledge: one that we get from outside of us and bring in, the other comes from inside and goes out. Dancing is inside her. This is what we see when our eyes are riveted to her on the stage—and there are many ways it may evolve and manifest.

So I’m not going to profess to know that making it as a professional dancer in L.A. is part of that path. If that doesn’t happen for her, it will break her heart. It will crush her ego, and it will take away her constructed identity.

And yet, there will be a small whisper of truth somewhere deep inside her being saying, “It’s okay. That wasn’t quite it.”

Sometimes we can take a hint—and sometimes we need a big, bold un-ignorable message that we have veered off course.

Right now my daughter is following the path that she has seen others walk, because it is all she is capable of seeing. We are only privy to a limited exposure of what’s possible. She has found the closest thing perceivably available to her soul’s longing, and I trust that it will take her, teach her and give her exactly what she needs on this phase of her journey. That might be success. That might be failure. Either way, it will be her dharma.

I support her wholeheartedly.

I’d like to say that I support myself in the same way…but it’s a challenge.

What is the thing you must do? Not because you think it will be profitable, or because it is expected of you, or even because it’s fun—but because it’s in you and needs a way out? All any of us can do is to do that thing, in whatever way is available to us. Give it all we’ve got, and then—let go of the outcome, so life can show us the way.

Today I ask for the clearing of the path:


Dear Life,

Show me the way by giving me the gift of failure in the places I am pushing against my dharma.
May I fall on my face as soon as possible?
May the train wreck happen, if it’s going to happen?
May I stay out of the way if this needs to fall apart?

So I may be open to the next step on my truest path.


Author: Pamela Nauda Clark

Image: Flickr/bixentro

Editors: Yoli Ramazzina; Renée Picard

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