Photo by Priya Bates

With so many friends going through challenges last year, I shared a story about my mother's Natraj on facebook. Although a personal one, I thought my LinkedIn audience would appreciate it as well.

The Natraj represents the god Shiva in the Hindu religion. He dances surrounded by flames and balances on a demon. My mother bought this one in India when I was about ten years old. She loved it while the rest of us found it scary.

After she died, and our family downsized, we gave the statue to an aunt who displayed it as a prized possession for more than 20 years.

A few years ago - 25 years after my mother's death - my aunt called and told me the Natraj had to come home. Apparently home was in my house and it was clear she wasn't going to take "No," for an answer.

So I told my husband, Glenn, that the Natraj was coming home and we'd have to find a place for it. Glenn started looking things up on the internet and said to me one day, "Do you realize you're bringing the god of destruction and chaos to our home? Why would anyone want to do that?" This is the guy who has lived in the same house (except for a couple of years) and city since he was born and has worked for the same company for the past 32 years. Glenn does not like change (as an aside, I figure this bodes well for our marriage).

I decided to do some research myself.

This is what I learned on the internet:

"The Natraj is a dance that represents the rhythm and harmony of life. He triumphs over illusion and ignorance. He tells you to be without fear. His flames represent the endless cycle of birth and death. His third-eye is symbolic of his insight and enlightenment.

The Natraj does represent the inevitable phenomenon of change or transformation as a beautiful act of nature. His dance is a great insight in the universal truth – that life is an eternal cycle of changing patterns.

Hindus believe, when change is inevitable, let us seek the music and beauty in it; we ourselves can evolve gracefully only if we merge with the changing phases of life."


It got me thinking about change both from a personal and professional perspective.

The Natraj represents the chaos that is an important part of life. We all have to deal with life and death, pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, opportunity and challenge, success and failure.

The Natraj tells us to go through these changes without ignorance ...with our eyes wide open, ready to learn life's lessons.

I think about the chaos that it brought to our lives, when shortly after my mother brought it home to Canada, that she chose to leave an abusive relationship. Even though it was horrible at the time, my siblings and I are stronger today for that decision.

I think of Glenn and I going through health scares - he with cancer, and me with the pulmonary embolism - and realize that the chaos and disruption brought us closer. Maybe we learned to appreciate one another more through that process.

I think of stepping out of my comfort zone to start my own business and not knowing whether I would succeed. I learned (and continue to learn) a lot about what I am capable of, and the friends around who are there regardless of the outcome.

I'm not saying that any of us want to invite the bad stuff, but when it eventually happens, we can experience it as part of being human without judgement. I'm very conscious of giving my girls opportunities to try and fail. I think it helps us build resilience.

I also have to believe (being the optimist that I am) that the disruption we are experiencing in the world has some sort of greater purpose. Maybe an awakening of some sort that change is needed in order for us to move forward successfully,. The awareness and conversations we are having, as uncomfortable as they are, are opening our eyes in a way that would not have happened if things remained the same.

I hope someone reads this today that needed to hear it.

Today, the Natraj is home and I appreciate it being there, both as connection to the mother I lost, and a reminder that life has its ups and downs, and that is exactly how it's supposed to be.

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