Effort Less in the US
Miss the previous Effort Less update? Read it here.
Since September of this year, I’ve been touring across the United States sharing with groups large and small, about my experience living in India and Africa over the past nearly two years, where I developed a number of grassroots level humanitarian programs that primarily benefited children and positively effected the lives of over 6,000 people.
That’s not what the presentations have been totally about though.
What I’ve actually been doing in the presentations, with all my heart and soul, is attempt to express through real world demonstration that living life in line with your purpose, especially when it is done selflessly (i.e., for the benefit of a greater cause and without expectation of reciprocity) not only provides true meaning and fulfillment in life, but also causes life to be lived effortlessly without need or worry.
When these principles are applied to service or project work, I’ve shown that magical results tend to happen on their own.
The answers are within
We find ourselves at the end of the era of the industrial economy and the start of a new era of connection, authenticity, and creativity.
Industrial paradigms, primarily that of conformity, safety (i.e., risk mitigation), and productivity have been so firmly conditioned in us that many of us feel lost right now.
Who am I?
What is my purpose?
What contribution am I here to make?
These are questions more and more of us are asking, as we move into the new area and out of the old.
And that’s where I come in, in my own small way.
The only thing I’ve done a little differently than most, was set out to answer those questions at a relatively young age (around 20) when I decided to try and forge my own path, instead of head down the path of career and retirement.
Having come into some answers and having lived them for some time, I feel prepared to share with others who seek greater meaning and fulfillment in their lives.
Like an entrepreneur, I act on ideas and inspiration.
One of the ideas I had (perhaps a far fetched one) back in India last year, was a speaking tour in the US during this time when I knew I would be back. If I was talking to somebody more rationally minded at the time, he or she might have said things like, “You don’t have a recognizable name. You don’t have credits, like a bestselling book. You don’t have a big following. Why do you expect people to attend a talk of yours?”
Despite the apparent limitations, I’ve given a dozen or so talks over the past three months in New York, Maryland, Michigan, Illinois, Arizona, and California, and am soon headed to Portland and London to give a couple more.
So far, I’ve addressed over 300 people, including 100 elementary school age children, perhaps many more if you count all the rebroadcasts of a TV show I was on in Tucson. As with most of what happens in my life now, these things "just happened," basically effortlessly, by reaching out to my various networks about the idea and locating some funding to take care of all the travel expense.
The point is: doors do start opening when you follow your heart and inspiration. I give this detail, hopefully, to give you encouragement that this tends to be the case.
Highlights IN PHOTOS
One of the things that continues to stand out was a lady who approached me after one of the two talks I gave, feeling like she had greater confidence to act on something she knew she should be doing (a dream of some kind), but who wasn't due to concerns about money, sustainability, and the like.
We ran a small workshop on the subject of gratitude with about 50 kids from their afterschool program that supports children having trouble at school due to their challenged backgrounds (poverty, broken families, etc.).
In the past three months, I've spent around $2,000 on living and travel expenses, which includes a three week stay in expensive New York City. I like to include the figures, again, to support the "money is not an issue" theme when it comes to pursuing your dreams.
The feat has been made possible entirely by the generosity of others and host families, like Lucy and Frankie Martinez (above) who have been managing a building in Flatbush, Brookyln for over 30 years, who gave me a free place to stay and always had food on the table.
After a quick stop outside of Nashville, TN to see my aging grandmother, I traveled to Livonia, MI to stay with the Chauhan Family (we met in India) who organized an in home event.
I look at this photo and feel a certain sense of amazement that all these strangers, people who knew very little about me, decided to take time out of the day to hear me talk about my work. I like to think that there might have been a useful nugget or two in the presentation for somebody's journey.
My host in Livonia, Nilam Chauhan, connected me to the Hillside school where I was invited to speak to four different classes filled with 6th and 8th graders. Just like in Baltimore and with Meena's class in California, I tried to encourage greater gratitude for things we may take for granted in the US.
I showed scenes from the slums, talked about children their age who have to beg for food, and shared about the Brosis School that has no electricity, bare earth floors, etc.
This was taken in Chicago, IL after presenting to members of the Chicago branch of Manav Sadhna.
Manav Sadhna is an NGO located on the Gandhi Ashram in India that hosted me for the year I spent there. This branch in Chicago is responsible for much of the fundraising that makes all the work in India possible.
It was a delight to present to this group knowing many of them have not been to Manav Sandha in person and may never be able to go.
It's been an interesting quirk of the trip that even in places where there wasn't an official event scheduled, some service opportunity has presented itself.
Like here, in Las Vegas, with Calvin who has been bed ridden for three months due to suffering a severe stroke.
I thought it would be a good idea to add some life to his dreary hospital room and so sent out emails and requests for photos and inspiring quotes, which we printed and hung up on the walls.
Then a couple of personally inspiring talks in the Bay Area of San Francisco organized by a new friend Vinya, who emailed me out of the blue a few months ago with such zeal about the potential of doing something together.
(She had heard about me after visiting Manav Sadhna in India.)
I felt deeply honored to receive this flag as a gift from Pancho Ramos-Stierle and Sam Bower who help run Casa de Paz (House of Peace).
Casa de Paz is a community center in Fruitvale on the eastide of Oakland, CA situated on a block in between two rival gangs. Through their weekly meditation gatherings, community outreach, and dedicated practice to be the change, Case de Paz is transforming a neighborhood that has historically dealt with issues of violence and crime.
Only a few more Effort Less events remain now.
One in Santa Barbara, one in Los Angeles, another in Portland, and then wrapping up in London. From London, I will travel back to the leprosy community in India to begin a new round of overseas programs for 2013 and beyond.
I like this idea of conducting field work abroad and returning to the more developed world to share about it. So far, this tour has enriched me personally, raised awareness and support for my work, and I hope, planted some seeds of service and community out there.
Continue to next (and final) Effort Less update.