“Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it and gnaw at it still.” Henry David Thoreau
“Be the person your dog thinks you are.” J.W. Stephens
“The way the dog trots out the front door…never fails to fill the saucer of my heart with milky admiration.” Billy Collins
I’m a dharma junkie.
Dharma is considered to be the “something special within you” that you offer up to the world. Your calling in life. The reason why you were put on this Earth.
I’ve been haunted by this idea ever since I read “The Great Work of Your Life” by Stephen Cope. It’s a modern day interpretation of the Bhagavad Gita, a classic text describing the battle faced by the warrior Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna (actually a Hindu god in disguise!). As soon as I got it, I consumed the book in four days and then went back to linger through it again. The hairs stood up on my skin as I read about the lives of extraordinary and ordinary people who found The Work (sometimes accidentally and at other times on purpose) that was to define them.
It took months before I got the chance to hear Stephen speak at a weekend retreat in Kripalu. He explained how “The Gift”, as he calls dharma, needs to be expressed and that it can take a lot of effort before it can be delivered up in its best form. He used the quote by Thoreau and I was mesmerized how the metaphor of a dog going after a bone is like the quest for the real calling in your life. You just have to keep going after it, repeatedly, until you become intimate and familiar with it.
It also struck me how lonely dharma work can be. Stephen said that there can be mentors along the way and moments of inspiration but mostly there are times when “The Gift” requires you to give everything that you’ve got to make the calling become real. Only you can express the dharma that you have. Only you can make it happen as it was meant to be.
I loved stumbling upon several doggy dharma quotes, while gnawing over the idea of one’s true calling. My veterinary life and my yoga world continue to be connected more and more over time. Both of these areas make me face the deepest (and sometimes scariest) parts of myself. I think that’s just how it is supposed to feel when you’re working towards the edge of your dharma. You have to pull and tug and be challenged to get the good stuff to come out. It can be exhausting!
I’ll feed the dharma junkie side by continuing to do my work. I’ll watch for signs that show me where I need to go next. I’ll keep unearthing the bone.