The most important thing is remembering the most important thing.
~ Zen master Suzuki Roshi ~
Bambina is my “Little Elephant.”
i met Bambina when we were serendipitously placed together as roommates during study abroad in Italy. we became fast friends as we ate our way through Italy, explored the greater bounds of Europe, and continued on as lifetime travel companions. i will never forget the day we spent in Firenze park with our Italian neighbors: artists playing the guitar and bongos as our soundtrack while we drank wine, played frisbee and celebrated life. as we lay on the grass, our heads side-by-side so we could whisper about the sky, i recall Bambina saying, “You know those days when your entire life flashes before your eyes and you could die happy? This is one of those days.” then we returned home to our apartment burning down. no joke, it turned into a dangerous smoked ham of a place and we didn’t have our passports or clean underwear for a week.
Bambina and i remained friends through many challenges together, surviving the streets and stresses of NYC, navigating difficult and rewarding paths throughout the world. we have experienced the mundane and the sublime together. she was named Bambina in Florence because of her childlike qualities—her endearing abilities to get lost, hungry or excited about just about anything, and to snuggle up to her friends and share love without any hesitation.
one thing i am so incredibly grateful for is Bambina’s remarkable memory. she constantly brings up memories i didn’t even know i had and makes our past adventures relevant to where we are now in our life journeys. i call her my Little Elephant because she helps me remember who i am when i forget; Bambina’s gentle strength carries me on to new adventures when i am lost.
…an elephant’s memory is key to its survival—and its herd’s. Each herd has a matriarchal structure, with one older female in charge. When younger males in the group reach sexual maturity—usually around 14 years of age—they leave the herd to roam solo or occasionally form groups with other males. Proof of elephants’ long memories lies in their behavior: When confronted with an unfamiliar elephant, matriarchs will huddle in defensive positions because they realize that those elephants could pose a threat to the herd’s safety.
my Bambina is also my unusually young matriarch??
Facebook, like a dear old friend, has also started reminding me of our memories together.
recently, Facebook sent me this photo and reminded me that two years ago to the day, i was in Colorado at Shambala Mountain Center. it was right after finishing Japanese school, before entering the cosmic void of Japan for six months, and around the time i discovered this path. i didn’t really know anything about modern Buddhism at that point and ended up an odd person out, surrounded by two different retreat groups—one was a bunch of matured practitioners on silent retreat, the other a group of chatty teenage girls from Israel.
i am so grateful to be in Colorado again, in deeper, more integrated ways. it is a delight to be walking down this road, discovering ever more wonder and happiness. thank you, Facebook, for being a good friend and reminding me of wondrous synchronicity.
it is hard to believe that i have been in Colorado for two months already.
the other day, a gentleman from Florida, Carlos, came up to me and looked at me longingly with his deep brown bear eyes. he then looked at the landscape all around us, sighed, and said, “You have the best job.”
his awe, wonder, and appreciation touched my heart to its core. i replied with all the sincerity in the universe, “Yeah, I really do.”
being in relationship is a constant reminder of who we are and why we are here. whether it is with friends, lovers, social media, one’s work, nature, one’s self, or chance encounters with any other beings, it is an opportunity to receive wisdom, to wake up and remember. i do believe this is the most important thing.
remembering how we got to where we are reminds us how important it is to be living in this moment. when little life logistics and obstacles start to take over our psyche, it helps to have a herd of little elephants to remind us of the important things, to guide us back to our own hearts.
to come with me on my journey to Colorado and help remember how i got here, please check out the three-part series Where the Heart Is:
setting sail on a pilgrimage: Lobsterbird spreads its wings once again.
finding peace in life release: saving lobsters’ lives in Maine.
building a home in the sky: converting groundlessness to spaciousness.
coming next week:
what exactly it is i am doing here in Colorado + a side trip to another planet — Great Sand Dunes National Park.
Elephants don’t just remember companions they’ve spent long stretches of time with, either. A pair of captive elephants have shown that these animals can recognize other friendly elephants even when they had only spent short periods of time together.
will you be my elephant?
who are your little elephants that help you remember? where have they guided you?
may you find them again wandering the plains and ride off onto new frontiers together!
Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it–memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.
~ Ted Williams ~