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Finding Your Purpose While Dealing with Infertility
a blog by Beth Heller and Tami Quinn, Pulling Down the Moon, June 16, 2010
Last week, after moving for the third time in the past nine months due to a house renovation, I was feeling particularly sorry for myself. While I was busy birthing a new home and feeling exhausted by work, the move and the end of the school year, I re-read a charming novel I had picked up several years ago called The Alchemist.
The Alchemist is a fable, telling the story of a young boy, Santiago, who sets out into the world looking to find buried treasure in Egypt. Part of Santiago wants to find the treasure and part of him wants to return home to safety. A wise king convinces Santiago that his only real obligation in life is to follow his Personal Legend. As the story describes it, Personal Legend is the path one decides to take that fills their heart with enthusiasm and joy. It is the path of our dreams, that which we are born to do.
In yoga, we call it “dharma” and my guru always says that when we truly step into its path, the whole of the universe will conspire to assist us along our journey. I got to thinking about Personal Legends and dharma in the context of infertility.
As many of you know, I am a former fertility patient, who had convinced her husband early on in their marriage that we should move up the corporate ladder, have a nest egg, travel the world and buy our first house before having children. Then, of course, when we had trouble conceiving, I felt like my world was falling apart.
All the plans I had made for the future meant nothing if I couldn’t be a mom. I felt stuck, like my own Personal Legend was slipping away. If I was not to be a mom, what then would I be? How could I bring any value into the world when my perception of my future included children and that dream was escaping me? I vowed, at the time, that if I could ever help another woman through the painstaking emotional process of infertility, I would do it.
Guess what happened? The whole of the universe conspired in making me keep my promise through the creation of Pulling Down the Moon almost eight years ago.
Today, when I teach one of our yoga or Dealing with Disappointment classes, I hear the same thing from our students/fertility patients. Through weepy eyes and saddened hearts they express how lost and stuck they feel as their Personal Legends appear to be escaping them. Believe this when I tell you - and as my guru has told to me - each of us are born with one special thing we do better than anyone else on this planet, although sometimes we just don’t know it.
Purpose, Not Always Where It's Expected
The Chopra Center gave a great example of this during a weekend workshop I attended a few years back. The teacher put his students in a circle and gave them a dharma talk, expressing that each person was truly gifted with a unique talent. He told each student that they had to voice their one talent to the group before leaving for lunch.
Some knew right away, some had to think about it for a while, but one woman, in particular, was quite certain she had no Personal Legend. The teacher waited patiently for the woman to come up with something but she couldn’t. He waited, the other students waited, but the poor, talentless woman came up with nothing. Finally, after a long period of time, growling bellies and an increasingly impatient group, the woman said, “I’ve got it! Dogs love me. When I see a dog, no matter what kind, I start to scratch their bellies and they drop down on the ground in pure bliss.”
“Great,” said the teacher not knowing quite what to say about this odd information, so he dismissed everyone for lunch.
About a year later, the teacher received a letter from this student. “I want to thank you for helping me find my dharma," she wrote. "After I left your class, I went to a local animal shelter and have been rehabilitating dogs that are marked for extermination due to their temperament. I just start to scratch their bellies and little by little they start to trust me. We work together and then they get placed in permanent homes. I have already saved hundreds of animals.”
Finding Your Personal Legend
When we are struggling with infertility, we not only feel on shaky ground regarding our future as a parent, but we also start to question our very purpose on this planet and the role we are intended to play.
While in my own life I have been blessed with twins who have just turned 13 and being a mom is a huge part of my Personal Legend, had I not experienced infertility, I may not have found the path to creating Pulling Down the Moon which, on most days, gives me great joy and helps other women too.
So how do we know when we have found our Personal Legend? Here are four tell-tale signs:
1). It brings you great joy when you do it.
2). Time ceases to exist when you do it.
3). Your Personal Legend serves other beings.
4). You feel a bit of magic as you progress on the path. This is the universe smiling upon you.
So what’s your Personal Legend? Has the infertility journey brought you closer to your intended path?
Write your thoughts and comments here. No lunch until you do.
Tami Quinn/Swami Prajachandrananda