For a couple of years I noticed more hawks flying above me and coming into my experience than ever before. When I finally decided to look up the totem meaning of a hawk, it was because a hawk was perched on a wooden fence during one of my morning runs down to the Berkeley marina. This was after noticing several hawks prior to the close encounter. I ran to the marina most mornings through a nature path, and rarely did I see another person on the path that early in the morning, but there were always animals. To my delight, the hawk was on that fence, not even frightened by my presence or my curiosity. I was literally about five feet away and it completely accepted me. I took a photo and kept running. When I got back to that spot, the sun was fully in view over the eastern hills and the hawk was still there; keen, focused, and standing at attention amidst the sun’s gorgeous rays. It was magical. I felt really lucky that day. This is when I decided to look up the totem of the hawk. I’ve always been drawn to Native American culture and the way the people live in harmony with nature.
According to the totem, a hawk represents intuition, clarity, guidance, a message from the spirit world, and rising above details. When I encountered that particular hawk I was making some huge decisions in my life. For me to go through with what I wanted to do (which was to move across the Bay to Marin without a job in sight, a car, money or any reason other than a yearning to be near Mount Tamalpais and near the ocean – and also because I didn’t feel at peace with raising my daughter in Berkeley), it was going to take a great deal of faith and a quantum leap through my doubts and fears. Seeing that hawk was inspiring to me, especially after knowing its totem meaning. I trusted in the experience with the hawk and kept moving into the direction of my desire to move across the Bay. Every morning I ran to the marina and gazed beyond the water at the breathtaking mountain, affirming that I would be there soon.
Within five months I had a job opportunity in Marin, a boyfriend with a car who worked in Marin and no reason to remain in Berkeley. School was starting soon and it was time to go. It has been over a year. We’re tucked away at the base of Mt. Tamalpais about twenty minutes from the ocean. My job is thriving and I’ve made several friends here. I have my own car (I’ve had two now actually) and a really cool cat named Mogley that we rescued in Oakland in January 2014. My relationship did not last, but we have remained very good friends. I feel like I am at home. I have never truly felt like I was at home until now.
The last time I saw a hawk it was in December of 2013. I had just gotten unexpected and devastating news which sent my mind into a spiral. I was overwhelmed with grief and heartache for my children’s father who has struggled with addiction just like myself. When I got his phone call, my old addict-self wanted to run to the liquor store to numb everything I was feeling. I didn’t do it, however. After the phone call, I was driving back to work from a copy center. As I turned a corner, a hawk dove from the sky right down in front of my car, and then flew back up. Tears were streaming down my face at the time, but I immediately busted into laughter with so much gratitude. I was going to be ok. Everything was going to be ok. There was no doubt. That hawk was a sure sign that I was being guided – and then… that was it. I have not seen one single hawk since that day, which is odd because I was seeing at least one hawk per day for about two years. Once, I almost passed a hawk on a PG&E pole without noticing it, and it screeched at me. (I swear to god it was screeching at me in order to get my attention).
It kind of bothered me that I wasn’t seeing hawks anymore. (I mean, wtf)? I kind of felt abandoned, so I finally questioned it aloud. “What’s going on, man? I’m not seeing hawks anymore. This isn’t cool. I need the hawk.” Sock in my gut. Awareness. Clarity. Knowing from within. YOU are the hawk. The hawk is always with you. You have become one with the hawk.
Ok, I know this may sound crazy, but you probably don’t get how intertwined with the hawk I was during this time, and when you get a knowing from within, there is no doubting the message. When I got that message about being one with the hawk, I almost fell over. It was so incredibly clear, and there was a deep truth that I felt throughout my being. After all I went through to walk through my fears, to face my doubts, to ignore those who may have thought I was a little bit nutty trying to move to an affluent county with my income (or lack thereof), I realize that I need to keep following the path of my inner knowing. I need to trust in that place of myself that sees beyond what my five senses tell me is true. I’ve got to continue “feeling” my way through my life, rather than placing so much weight on the way society identifies with how things work, or buying into an idea that the odds have authority over my life.
You don’t know how many times I’ve heard really nice, logical people tell me that if I want to get where I’m trying to go, I need to have a college degree. Well, tell that to Mark Twain, Andrew Jackson, Christopher Columbus, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller Sr., Rachael Ray, Simon Cowell, Thomas (freaking) Edison and Walt Disney (to name a few successful people who never finished college). The only reason I have never gone to college is because I have never felt drawn to college. I simply don’t, so I keep moving along, reading the signs, practicing being present, trusting in my inner guidance system. I have held a career for over 21 years without a college degree, but more than anything, I’ve taken the world head on and gained experience and wisdom that I would have never gotten by sitting inside of a classroom. I’m not drawn to classrooms – that’s just me. I’m not opposed to them. I appreciate people who study hard and work toward their goals, no matter if they do it in a classroom, through the military, or simply through life experience like myself. It doesn’t matter how you gain your knowledge. What truly matters is if you are following your heart’s desire for your life.
I’ve been beating to my own drum since I was a kid. My drumbeat was awkward at times, and for a very long time, it was off. I’ve drifted and failed and found myself incredibly confused – enough that I needed to ask for help, but I kept moving forward. I rarely got stuck in one place for very long. In the grand scheme of my life, my addiction years were very brief. I don’t look back. I do not worry about what’s ahead. Now that I know the beat of my own drum, and now that I am accepting the beat of my own drum – the drum works for me. I am in harmony with my drum, just like I became one with the hawk. My life is now working for me, after years of feeling lost and confused about everything. After years of life NOT working for me.
I got a message from a friend last night asking what I thought about a decision he was making. I don’t know why he is asking for my acceptance of his decisions. I want him to stand on his own two feet and to know what he needs and wants in his life. I want this for everyone, because it’s important that we accept ourselves and that we know where we are headed in our lives. Trusting yourself and loving yourself should be your top priority. Looking for acceptance from another human being is not going to help you find acceptance for yourself, nor is it going to get you very far. It feels good to be accepted (I know), but it is not necessary. My point of view of someone else’s life is completely jaded by a limited perspective. If I would have allowed people to give me advice last year when I was following my good old fashioned gut, I doubt I would have gotten much outside encouragement because the odds were against me. People want to give you good advice, but a lot of times, the advice is based in opinion and from a very limited perspective. Don’t allow people to stifle your experience of your own life. Learn to trust your inner guidance system. Learn to see beyond what your five limited senses are saying. This is what living is about.
This last year I have had more adventure in my life than I’ve ever had in several years combined. I’ve made more friends in a shorter period of time than ever. I’ve had more fun, been more motivated, I’ve had more opportunities, and I find myself so excited about waking up in the morning to start my day that sometimes I can’t even sleep. THAT’s LIVING! That’s being ALIVE. That’s where I wanted to be four years ago when I decided it was time to get sober. I knew I wanted to LIVE – not just survive. I was tired of merely surviving. Life is too short to simply get by. You’ve got to take chances and jump the hurdles when they appear, and wonder about things. Wonderment – now that’s exciting. I wondered about that hawk, and look how far that hawk got me. It wasn’t just a coincidence. The hawk became part of who I am, but it is only because I was interested in knowing something deeper than the mere physicality of the hawk. The hawk represented something for my life. You can call me delusional, but if it wasn’t for my wonderment of the hawk, I do not think I would be where I am right now. I wouldn’t have gotten this far.
Forget about what other people say and what other people do. Beat to your own drum without hesitation. Discover your own harmony. Be who you are without fear. It is so fantastically liberating. There is so much magic in life – It is simply up to you to be aware of it. If you have a dream, follow it. You may not ever get to the top of the mountain you are climbing, but the view along the way is soooooo worth the journey!