There is a travel website called Couchsurfing, and I use this to stay with locals while traveling, and I also use this to host people visiting Manila. I've met many interesting people this way, including this girl who asked me to host her a while back. She sent me a long detailed message to introduce herself, and I knew we would get along. Apart from being vegan herself, she was at that time volunteering at an orphanage that takes care of abandoned children with medical needs. I was inspired by she was doing and I read some of her blog entries. I came upon a quote by Mary Oliver that said "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" I thought those words guided the way in which she lived her life with intention.
For many of us, we do not automatically think or act as though our lives are wild or precious. We tend to think of our lives as routinary, following a pattern, and in that sense really more domesticated than wild. But if we stop for a moment to consider what makes us who we are, we will soon realize that we do indeed have a wild and precious life. We have a body fit enough to practice yoga asana. We have a voice we can use to speak up for others. We have a sound and intelligent mind. And then we also have gifts that are unique to us. Some of us are proficient with words. Others are inclined to make music or delve in the arts. Others are drawn to sciences and technology and innovation. When we consider our own unique set of gifts and skills and talents and inclinations, we realize how wildly we can live this life, and how precious it is that we can offer this to the life that we live.
Given all of this, we can ground our intention. We can think about what purpose it is that we live this life. It can be very specific or it can be general. We can aim high and say we want to leave this world a better place than we found it. That is huge. Massive. An intention of great proportions. A part of us may hold back and think it is too much. That is only fear speaking. But make no mistake. This fear is not the fear of being unable to live up to our intentions. On the contrary, we are afraid of acknowledging just how great we can be. An intention like that may at first appear intimidating, until we dig deep and see that this intention will be fulfilled by individual actions, small decisions, and daily choices.
When we practice yoga asana, regardless of the pose we come into, we work on different actions. Some may come in progression while others are independent of other actions. Whether it is a downward facing dog that we have done thousands of times or a handstand practice that we are still working on, we get to experience with our own body what it is like to take small steps and individual actions to fulfill one intention. There are many instances where we also get to practice our own variations of a pose, and I think it requires some amount of courage to do this, to value the authenticity of our actions and intentions over norms and conformity.
It is a beautifully phrased question that Mary Oliver asked. "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" To live with intention does not mean we all have one path. It does not mean we shut others out and live in isolation. It does not mean we leave the world as we know it behind. What it is is personal and individual and only we will know how to live our own life with intention. To fuel this question with inspiration, I leave you with the words of another great thinker. Martin Luther King Jr. said "Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
Note: To know more about my friend Shannon's volunteer work at the orphanage, please visit her blog at http://chegringa.blogspot.com and read the entries from 2011.