Be Your Own Element

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Nature has an interesting way of organizing things. Let’s say we take a look at something as small as an atom of an element. We can find that it has its own set of properties. Depending on its characteristics, the atom will either bind with more things of the same element, or combine with something else to make an entirely new thing — to help that element find its most balanced state. This is very much like us as humans. We often hear the phrase “in their element” applied to people who are comfortable in their surroundings, and perhaps in the flow of what they are doing. To be in our element implies that we are the most simplest version of ourselves, amplifying our true self into the world through our words, actions and creations.

Often times, when we attract things into our life that don’t seem to feel right, people will also be prone to saying that “I’m sending out the wrong vibes into the universe.” There is some truth to it, but it is not as abstract or mysterious as we think. But rather, living any version of ourselves other than our true nature requires energy. There is a reason why actors go through intense emotional detox, possible psychosis, or take a hiatus from acting after a serious role: it requires a great deal of energy to pretend to be something we are not. When we yearn for the weekend, a drink, a vacation, or anything else outside of ourselves for a release, we are actually seeking release from the role we have convinced ourselves to play. Instead of giving ourselves permission to leave this play, we continue acting and hiding the true element of ourselves — the irony being that what we sought has always been within us. To find the people who are truly valuable to us, who bind well with our element, and to create the tribe or community we seek to enrich and uplift, we must first have the courage to expose our vulnerabilities and strengths, and unearth the hidden element of ourselves.


This article was originally posted on Medium.

One of The Best Compliments Ever

“Are you a Christian, Jay teacher?”

“What?” She caught me off guard, “What makes you say that?”

“Well my mom said that Christians are good people who care about others and help people, so you have to be Christian.”

I didn’t know how to respond. This was clearly meant to be a sweet compliment. But right now, I couldn’t have an in-depth conversation about how people of different religious backgrounds can also help and care about others. At least not here.

I got this tutoring job by a friend’s recommendation, so I had to make a good impression; becoming the Camp’s controversial math tutor wouldn’t be the way to do it. That summer, my friend’s Christian Leadership Camp was short on math teachers. I needed the money and I was great at what I did: teaching math to middle-schoolers. I couldn’t imagine many scenarios where Jesus would come up when teaching algebraic foil methods. All things considered, I accepted the job.

But here we were. Did this student see me as a Christian for staying late to help with homework? Did she see me as Christian for empathizing when she told me her friends thought she was “dumb” and stopped being friends?  Did encouraging her to continue art classes (after seeing her amazing sketches on the margins of their math homework) make me a Christian?

I’m not sure about many of those things. But I do know that this was one of the best compliments I’ve ever received in my life. Being a decent human has no religious boundaries.