I dream of the day when my partner and friend can have the health and vitality to pursue his inspirations.
For he is someone who has truly given his life to serving others, and yet, he has been given a heavy burden to carry, as a father who faces significant health challenges for he has to work very hard to find a doable balance that fulfills his daily responsibilities and yet acknowledges the current physical state of his body temple and mind.
He carries this burden quietly and calmly. I have never seen him get upset, or frustrated, or scared, or ask for anything for himself. I have only seen him affected when he thinks he is not doing enough, or when he thinks he may be a burden to those helping him along the way.
He exemplifies the qualities of a true yogi, “Soft as a flower where kindness is concerned. Strong as thunder when principles are at stake.”
Reflections of the Road Traveled Thus Far
It is hard to believe that this was the case even two years ago, when Steven, also known as Yogesh, was so exhausted, his mouth periodically full of sores, unable to sleep or eat, yet remaining in a state of complete acceptance. The light that shined in his eyes has never left. It always gazed back at me when I would daily climb the stairs to visit him, to bring him a meal I hoped would be good enough for his body to absorb in its sensitive state.
It has been over a year that a bright and selfless community of individuals came together to help our family start a healing journey that brought us out of a time that felt daunting and, truthfully, sometimes hopeless.
When the support started coming in to help him go to a center in Texas that was dedicated to finding and healing the specific types of health challenges he faced, it was simply amazing. What that center and all of you did for Steven/Yogesh was something we just could not provide on our own. The prayers and love we received from friends all around the world during that time is something I will never forget.
The center helped us raise our energy and increased our strength to a level where we could see the road ahead and the healing that was possible. It also showed Yogesh that there were explanations for the symptoms he was experiencing and that he was not alone.
Each day we would walk into the center for his first appointment and treatment, and not only would Arati make a new friend – almost immediately – but there in the waiting room, we would exchange stories, emails, even phone numbers with individuals from all over the world who were in need of the same type of healing. Sometimes we wouldn’t even share the same language, but simply knew – from one family to another – the kinds of struggles we were there to overcome and what we were facing.
At the end of the first life-altering two weeks there, it was time to take the healing journey back home, where we continued putting one foot in front of the other.
Since then we have continued to put out the best energy we know how, and tried to make the right decisions along the way, but sometimes you just never know exactly what is Right, all you know is that no matter what choice you make, you will continue to grow and to break away the parts of you that aren’t serving you anymore, and you try to feel more love, more gratitude, and more joy for what you are given.
Some of you may remember that there was a time where Yogesh and I struggled. Though it was hard to share, it is why we are here now, still a family, unbroken. It was a time short-lived, because all of you cared and helped us to be well and to return to our own “center” where we could reconnect again and regain hope.
Hope for the Future
At this time of year, it is easier for each one of us to go deep within and to see how far you have come, and to be grateful. Yet, we are also approaching a time of resolution and new beginnings.
It is time for us to flow with all the positive energy that is in the air, and keep pressing on. It is time for a recharge.
Our family is making plans to go to a nearby specialist clinic that provides greater clarity and practical tools that help the central nervous system and brain deal with physical and emotional shock*. It has a family program that will make it possible for us to more successfully embrace this together and be better able to embrace Life.
*This state was a gradual development that heightened after his time in the Marine Corps. This is often the case for many who serve in such an intense way and in such extreme conditions. The body doesn’t immediately react to the experience until it has had time to breathe.
The stories of Yogesh’s time in the Marine Corps infantry show me that it was something he was meant to experience and that he was being watched over the entire time. Yogesh was in the third squad of the third company of the third battalion. He started his service on January 5, 2009 and ended his service on January 5, 2013. The one time when his squad was shot at, he had been given the radio to carry. And he was never asked to do so again. That day he didn’t have to shoot back.
While on patrol searching for explosives, he found the largest cache of weapons in Afghanistan by his squad, so large that his team received news coverage. He nearly died of either a parasite or food poisoning that left him emaciated and unable to eat or drink much during the entire four of the seventh months he lived in the desert with 11 other people, often up all night on post with no one to relieve him. He had a similar experience in boot camp but with pneumonia.
He trained on how to live with nothing but a backpack in the woods for days at a time. This makes living in your car or on the street not such a big deal when you look around at the nearly 200,000 homeless veterans.
Why are these things even relevant? To me, it is because the things he has overcome, the inner and outer strength he cultivated during that time, is something I think of as very distant. Yet in actuality, each story he shares shows the true potential we all have within us to fight and to be victorious. And all life truly is, is the unfolding of a story.
Moreover, we all have a hidden spiritual warrior within us that can tap into the unlimited strength of the Infinite Cosmos.
It is why mothers can lift an entire car if their child is trapped inside. It is why one man can fearlessly free climb the face of a rock wall in Yosemite. It is why orphaned 3 or 4-year-olds have the ability to instantly become the parent to their baby sisters or brothers. Yes, each of these is truly a moment of strength that lives within us. For center is everywhere, circumference nowhere (Paramhansa Yogananda in Autobiography of a Yogi).
Yogesh is a warrior in a way that I have never before seen firsthand from anyone in my life, except for my spiritual teacher, Swami Kriyananda, and other dear friends who try to live by Swami’s example. But for these individuals, I can only watch in awe at a distance, while Yogesh is someone who, through marriage, I have the honor to more easily partake in his journey.
It is why I can more clearly say and see that the time is ripe for us to begin the next leg of our journey. For like all of those individuals living the healing journey, we must learn to take the steps necessary to help us proceed along our way, toward freedom from limitations and suffering. And continue to try our best. We would have loved to go back to the center in Texas, but it has since closed, and so we will make efforts to go to the nearby recommended clinic.
So, if you see us working hard to find a way to take this next step, know that we will keep trying to realize this greater potential.
We love you. Thank you.
Aum, peace, amen.