This morning a hummingbird woke me up. I had my alarm set for 8:30 in order to be awake for the post man/woman to pick up some packages. Feeling groggy and not quite ready to deal with the world, I turned it off and dove back under my covers. I am not a morning person by any means and it often takes quite a few attempts to really wake up. Some minutes later, after debating in my head "I went to sleep at 12:30 so 8 hours was really enough sleep...but then again I've had a fever the past few days and a person always requires more sleep when they're sick...what to do, what to do.", I rolled out of bed.
My sister just moved back from Seattle and doesn't have a place to live so she's staying here for awhile and sleeping in my room. I opened my curtains and saw the shiny wet pavement and clovers bedazzled with raindrops. I'm not sure what provoked me to go outside, but I threw on my Northface, slipped on my Diesel version of Uggs and walked out into my backyard.
Last Thursday I had a meeting with someone from a website to talk about possibly teaching some makeup classes and other stuff. After the meeting was done, while walking to bus, I saw Borders. I was in a newer neighborhood in San Francisco (by the ballpark) and it's an area, though I was born and raised here, that I haven't spent much time in. Wandering an unfamiliar territory is something I've always identified with and enjoyed much more than knowing where I am, what I can expect to see experience etc Seeing Border's, I realized I hadn't been in a bookstore since New York. With the little money I had while there, on nearly every trip into Manhattan, I'd somehow find myself in Barnes and Noble on 17th street.
When entering Border's my intent was to buy flashcards for a gift, use the restroom and hop on the bus. Wandering the store in search of educational tools (I never ask people, I don't like to bother employees unless I've actually made the effort to find something myself), I ended up finding them right next to the "Metaphysical" section of books. Which I hadn't even realized was the metaphysical section, because I saw "The Alchemist" and a few of Paulo Coelho's other books on display there. After picking up the flashcards, I decided to peruse the titles. Coelho is one of my favorite author's but I've recently finished reading all 13 of his books and thought maybe I'd find a new author with books somewhat similar to his in content.
I picked up one book that dealt with coincidences. I can't recall the title, nor the authors name. It was written by a woman who spent numerous years cataloging all the seemingly insignificant coincidences that had occurred in her life. For example she'd have a dream about a friend she hadn't spoken to in years and the following day, the friend called her. In any case, I didn't buy the book. But I remembered it. While writing this, I took a break to look through borders.com and see if I could find it. I couldn't. One of the books I did buy is one I've heard about for years, though I can't remember the various places or people who have recommended it. The Power of Now.
I was hesitant about this purchase simply because of the cover which states, "The Power of Now, a guide to spiritual enlightenment" the last line of which quite frankly sounds super cheesy IMO. One deciding factor for me was the endorsement on the bottom from Deepak Chopra, an author I've heard a lot about, yet again, have yet to read anything by. The other, was the back of the book which states:
"To make the journey into The Power of Now we will need to leave our analytical mind and it's false created self, the ego behind."
Of course, there's more written, but that first line was the only thing that resonated within me. A great series of events in my life occured shortly before I moved to New York last winter, none of which I'll address here, but I ultimately ended up moving, alone, in with 2 strangers because it was something I felt I had to do. This certainty came from somewhere deep within me and is something I can't even explain. I didn't accomplish much while in New York by most people standards. I had a hard time finding (and keeping) a good job. I didn't produce anything that I could use in my book. The short time I was there could be viewed as a failure, as I reluctantly returned home broke, living my parents (again) with about $6k in debt at 28 years old.
Shortly before I left I spent a day at Coney Island with a friend. We rode none of the rides, played none of the games, but paced the boardwalk, sat on various benches and seats, while conversing and observing people for about 11 hours. The conversation continued on the train ride back to my apartment, on my balcony and ultimately on my couch for another 2 until my body was so exhausted that I couldn't fight sleep any longer.
I believe, that day was the pinnacle of my unexplained need to be out there. I will not attempt to summarize our conversation (that could have gone on for days) as I simply cannot. But all the hours I spent alone reading, thinking, observing people on the train, breathing in the tremendous life force and energy that New York gives off, led up to this conversation. A conversation that continued, though fragmented, once I returned to San Francisco by means of the phone, twitter and email.
I started reading "The Power of Now" on Saturday and continued yesterday. This morning, as I said, a humming bird woke me up. I'll explain the relevance in a moment. Page 11 states the following:
YOU ARE NOT YOUR MIND
Enlightenment- what is that?
"A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. "Spare some change?" mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. "I have nothing to give you," said the stranger. Then he asked: "What's that you are sitting on?" "Nothing," replied the beggar. "Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember." "Ever looked inside?" asked the stranger. "No," said the beggar. "What's the point? There's nothing in there." "Have a look inside," insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to to pry open the lid. With Astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.
I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.
"But I am not a beggar," I can hear you say. Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that comes with it, are beggars, even if they have great material wealth. They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment, for validation, security, or love while they have a treasure within that not only includes all those things but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer."
I've always lived with the affliction of an overactive mind. I believe most people do to an extent. Mine is to the point that I will analyze a problem over and over for hours upon hours considering every possible reason as "why, who, where, when, how" etc often times ending up back at the first possibility I considered along with a massive headache. Even when I don't want to think about something, it's like I can't find the "off" switch.
In reading the first 30 pages of this book I made a connection between something I've already been practicing but was unaware of. Since that initial 13 hour conversation, I've since been exploring the concept of Ego vs Self. I'm not gonna get too deep into that right now, (perhaps watch Shira's video exploring the concept - I love the way she approached it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_w2a5t0ww0 ) but basically your mind is not you. And this is a concept I implore you to explore. I realize this post is turning out to be a lot longer than I had intended so I'll sum it up by addressing the hummingbird.
I wandered outside this morning within minutes of getting out of bed, why, I don't know. The first thing I saw was a tiny hummingbird. I haven't seen hummingbirds in my yard for at least 15 years. Perhaps I just hadn't noticed them in that long. Regardless, there was the tiny creature, wings beating ferociously, floating from one flower to the next, seemingly suspended in mid air. I smiled and just observed. I felt this warm energy of life creep through me. My memory tumbled back to Spring Break 2002 in Miami, when my friend Jasmine decidedly nicknamed me, "Senorita Animales", because while everyone else wanted to drink and tan on the beach, I ventured off alone with a snorkel & mask I had bought and was quite content spending 2 hours immersed in the ocean observing the colorful fish and coral and watching the flow of the tide pull at the underwater plants. Everywhere we went, I found lizards, cats, manatees, birds etc. Observing life has always brought me this unexplainable sense of calm and peace. Rewind to 1996. While studying transcendentalism in English class my junior year, I fell in love with Thoreau and Emerson. July 2002 - when I first moved to New York, I'd gasp at how beautiful the old architecture was, ask about the water towers, play with the fireflies in Central Park. My friend would tell me he didn't understand how I could be excited by bugs and old buildings.
Watching the hummingbird, I tried to remember how fast their wings beat per second. I was tempted to grab my phone and look it up. See? The analytical mind at work, attempting to interrupt, explain, rather than just take it in and appreciate it. I told myself to shut up and just watch. Though I'm not that far into the book, I gather that it really is about appreciating and taking joy in the moments - living in the present, in the "now". My next inclination was to run inside and grab my Rebel. Then I thought "dammit! My telephoto lens isn't on my camera at the moment - it'll take me longer to change the lens and it might gone by the time I get back out." Eventually the bird flew over the fence so I ran inside, grabbed my camera, changed the lens and back out the door. It never came back. I waited 45 minutes.
I thought about why I had always been so inclined to take pictures as I am the "unoffical photographer" of everyone I know. I always have a camera on hand and can't even begin to estimate how many photos I've taken in my life. I realized my inclination towards photography is something really quite simple. It's always been my attempt to capture life. Duh! That's what photography is for the most part. Even if it's a staged shoot for a magazine or something. Life and the energy that it is, isn't something that can truly be captured and harnessed as it changes from moment to moment. It's always there, in you, in me, in every single thing on this planet.
Rather than look up how fast a hummingbird's wings beat per second, something told me to instead, look up what a hummingbird symbolizes and among all the various answers, I gather it to be a very spiritual bird. Needless to say, I wasn't surprised by any of the answers.
Hummingbirds, called new world birds cause they are native to North America, Central and South America, are considered to be symbols of peace, love and happiness, moreover, ancient pagans held them sacred for their tireless energy and anxiety.
In Native American culture, a hummingbird symbolizes timless joy and the Nectar of Life. It's a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances.
They are really spectacular birds, and have a lot to teach a person about self discovery and healing.
Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small
By: Ted Andrews
It stands for immortality. Or sometimes the Sun.
Hummingbird is seen by some as a messenger of love and joy. It symbolises energy, wonder and swift action. It is associated with the Ghost Spirit native American religion which teaches a dance that is intended to return the natural balance of the world.
The hummingbird represent abundant life and joy.
In regards to dreams:
Hummingbird - the tiniest of all birds - brings special messages for us. It is the only creature that can stop dead while traveling at full speed. It can hover, or can go forward, backward, up or down. It lives on nectar and searches for the sweetness of life. Its long tongue lets it bypass the often tough and bitter outer layer to find the hidden treasures underneath. Hummingbird is loved by the flowers and plants, for as it sucks the nectar from the flower, the plant reproduces and more of its kind are created. In many traditions, Hummingbird feathers have been prized for their almost magical qualities. It is said that Hummingbird brings love as no other medicine can, and its presence brings joy to the observer.
If you have Hummingbird medicine, you adapt easily to whatever situation you may find yourself in, and make the most of your new circumstances. You don't waste time looking back and wishing for "what was" for you are concerned with making the most of "what is". Also, you could never become addicted to any artificial stimulants, for you find joy in your own heart. You take great pleasure in spreading joy and love and beauty to all around you, and have the gift of taking that inner joy into new and different surroundings. You have a talent for finding the good in people, and are not put off by a gruff or abrupt exterior, for you know that, if you can only get beyond that tough outside layer, you'll find goodness and beauty inside. You may have a gift for working with flowers, maybe growing them to share with others, or using flower essences for healing. Aroma therapy may be your calling. You have high energy and a spirit that must be free. To restrict that wonderful, free, loving energy is to suffer great depressions and feelings of uselessness. Hummingbirds must fly free in search of beauty, spreading joy and love to all it touches.