One of my favorite picture books as a young kid, and as the parent of young kids, was Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman.
It’s the story of a little bird that hatches after its mother has gone off to find food… So, left alone, the little bird embarks on a journey to find its mother – asking a kitten, a hen, a dog, a cow, a boat, a plane, and then a power shovel if any of them is its mother. Finally, after the little bird cries out in desperation, the shovel places it back in its nest where it’s reunited with its mother.
I’m not sure why, but this book has resonated for me at different times in my life – including when I was searching for a partner (are you the love of my life?) and, more recently, as I’ve been searching for my life’s purpose (are you my dharma?).
I envy people who seem to have a clear sense of their calling in life from a very early age – especially artists.
For me, the process of finding my dharma/purpose/calling has been anything but clear…
I think part of my challenge has to do with the fact that I became a single parent at a young age, and my path toward a “career” was framed much more by necessity than by any deep internal calling.
It’s also true that we’re more tuned into uncovering our life’s purpose as we get closer to the end of it… and as a 59-year-old, that’s where I’m at.
In my process of searching for my dharma, I’ve read a couple of good books:
Your Soul at Work, by Nicholas Weiler in collaboration with Stephen C. Schoonover, MD
But what I’ve mostly learned is that it takes a good deal of listening (to my heart), along with prayer – and then more listening… It also takes gratitude… and courage.
Maybe that’s why I still love the book Are You My Mother? so much… Because it teaches us about having the courage to go out and find what we seek, which in the end is right back where we started – in the nest of our own heart.