Ode to Father’s Day
“This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” -Chief Seattle
Someone asked me recently if I could pinpoint the best advice my dad ever gave me, and if so, would it be the same advice that I’d like to pass on to my sons. I must admit that even considering the question has flooded me with intense feelings of gratitude for all of the sacrifices that my dad made over the years to provide me and my siblings with enriching educational experiences. I honestly don’t know that I will ever be able to measure up to the high bar that he set as a parent and role model. I can think of many bits of advice that he has offered over the course of my life, some practical and some whimsical. But the metaphysical crux of his message to me can be summed up best by the quote at the top of this newsletter.
For as long as I can remember, my dad has been reading the letter that Chief Seattle wrote in 1852 to President Fillmore immediately following our Thanksgiving feast. Like all great spiritual teachings, the words are simple and clear because they ring of pure truth. “Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” Obviously he wasn’t talking about the web in the internet sense, but the very real and ephemeral fabric of life. This truth has had profound ramifications on my inner attitude and on my outer actions. And I hope, very humbly, to pass that message along to my children in the same way that an old time firefighter might pass along a bucket of water to his comrade in the fire line. It seems to me that the conflagration our culture currently faces is one of ignorance. Better to pronounce it “ignore-ance” so as to shed connotations of “illiteracy” or “dumbness.” We typically ignore the fact that all things are connected, and this leaves us feeling alienated and fearful. No wonder we feel such great existential relief after our yoga practice when we remember in our bones and through our breath, as the poet Mary Oliver says, “our place in the family of things.”
On this informal holiday, I have nothing to advertise or announce. We have no special workshops coming up (although there are still two spots left on next weekend’s retreat 😉 and no major schedule changes (although the Tuesday/Thursday night classes have shifted back 15 minutes ;). I simply felt inspired to share what’s been on my mind. And I always take great comfort in remembering why this practice is so meaningful. I hope to see you in class soon!