Body CompassLittle StoriesThe TAO of You

Rhino Wisdom

Okay. I’m going to get a little woo-woo on you so, fair warning.

I took a Shamanism workshop a few years ago taught by the wonderful Sarah Seidelmann who, if you didn’t know, is Maria Bamford’s sister (and Maria, if you didn’t know, is one of my all-time favorite comediennes). It was just icing when I discovered that these two wildly interesting women are sibs.

I’d never taken a shamanism workshop before. I have my healthy skepticism but I also have my open mind. I mean, what do we know, really? Not much, honestly. We don’t know how the mind works or why we need sleep or what we are doing here or how big this universe is or how it got here or why we sometimes know what someone is about to say before they say it.

One of the exercises was to find our spirit animals. Mine, it turns out, is a white rhinoceros.


Not a graceful giselle or wily fox or magnificent owl. A rhino.

I found her while lying flat on my back in a darkened room as Sarah rhythmically beat her drum and spoke in a stream of confident, soft words. I won’t tell you the whole thing, I’ll just say, at one point I was in a big meadow standing in front of an enormous white rhinoceros and I said, Are you my spirit animal? And it was clear, she was.

She was huge, warm, strong, rough, kind. I mean, nothing anyone would ever fuck with but not a bully, you know? Mostly, she WAS what she was and she was fine with it.

I lay on the ground next to her. There were animals all around us, moving like a stampede but not out of anger or fear, just out of their natural WILDNESS and I knew I was there not to BRACE, but to ALLOW.

I asked, (as directed), if she had a message for me. Rush for no man.

That was it.

At first I was a little disappointed. That’s it? No nugget of wisdom for the world or my life? But then I realized it was the perfect thing for me–simple and profound.

Because, you see (and I don’t know if you’ll relate at all?) I do rush. A lot. I don’t mean to. But I often “come to” while in the middle of some task–folding the laundry, washing the dishes, packing a bag to set out somewhere, to realize that I’m tense, racing, as if I’m trying to make up for lost time.

(Cue sound of someone panting.)

This or that took longer than I thought it would and this or that feels perilously close to not getting done or this or that feels out of reach now because I wasn’t able to whip everything/one into shape in just the right way and even though I’m not in a PANIC, there is a low grade agitation or impatience or unrest.

And then sometimes I remember: Rush for no man and I shed a layer of tension.

There’s no where to GET TO.

We are, if I may say so, already there. Where? Right where we are, at this moment, sitting or standing or walking, or driving–we are where we are and that’s okay because, well, it IS the truth of the moment.

We don’t need to hurry up or catch up or prove anything or make up for anything or be in a different place.

Where we are, what you are, who you are, with everything you don’t know or haven’t healed or can’t yet forgive, IS your gift.

So, Dear Reader, be like a rhinoceros.

Be what you are, right where you are, and know that is enough.

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