A Winter Solstice Tribute to Circle of Life
by Ina Pockrass, COL Board Chair
This is the season of lights, and it is the season to celebrate the darkness, the longest nights of the year. It is also the season when we tuck the structure called Circle of Life into a tidy, cozy sleeping bag, set her up by the fire with a soft pillow and a warm rock, fill the larder with enough supplies to last the winter and beyond, lovingly kiss her forehead, and put her to bed.
I met Julia Butterfly Hill in April, 2000, about four months after she came down from Luna. I was up in a concrete version of a tall tree: on the 34th floor of an office building in downtown San Francisco, in a very nice corner office. I became her attorney, counselor, advisor, protector, friend, and will be that for as long as we both live.
Circle of Life was founded because Julia recognized the power of leveraging her story of awakened awareness, the one that has us remember that we are all connected, in one big, unbreakable circle. She saw what happened when people heard her story of extraordinary courage, stubbornness, grace. They got inspired. They were moved to tears by the power of this ordinary preachersâ€™ kidâ€™s story. And some made that experience about her, not themselves.
The adulation that came with the star power of Juliaâ€™s story was difficult for her. Julia didnâ€™t want it to be about her. What she wanted more than anything was to have people incorporate the inspiration that her story provided into their own lives, to own their own power. She asked that each of us really get that we can make the world a better place, that each of us get committed to a world grounded on love, not fear, one blessed by community not isolation, and one where each of us lives consonant with our principles and values.
In many ways, I am the poster child for the success of Circle of Life. If someone would have told me in January 2000, before I met Julia, that my life would look as it does now, I would have told them they were crazy. No-one could have foreseen that I would leave my lucrative, prestigious and exhausting law partnership in a large corporate firm to create with my husband a model for eco-friendly and human-friendly dentistry, nor that I would be president of a company which is transforming the dental industry as a whole. Anyone who knew me then knew that I was deathly afraid of the dentist! Yet here I am now, breathing life into our vision, with products, services, strategic alliances, non-profits, great press, and a supportive team and community. We are successful and we are walking our talk.
I did not foresee the path that ultimately revealed itself, but now I see how Juliaâ€™s story helped me embrace my own power to change my life and the world. I realize that even though my compensation as an attorney made it seem like I was successful; I wasnâ€™t really successful. The work I was doing was good work, but it wasnâ€™t work that fed my soul. I figured if Julia was courageous enough to live in Luna for more than 2 years, through an El Nino winter and constant attacks on her life, I was courageous enough to leave behind my law career, walk away from something in which, after eighteen years, I had developed mastery, out into the unknown to create a business in an industry I knew nothing about, using methodologies that challenged conventional wisdom.
I know people thank Julia all the time for how her story has stimulated this kind of transformation in their lives and I know thereâ€™s a part of her that hates to be thanked. So Iâ€™m not going to thank Julia for my amazing life. But I do thank her for her bravery, thank her for listening to her own inner wisdom, and thank her for incarnating now, so that I can be blessed with having her in my life. And I thank her for living her life in integrity with her highest purpose; her example helps me remember to live consistent with my own highest purpose.
As the founding Board Chair of Circle of Life, Iâ€™m here to report that, at the end of 2007, the mission of Circle of Life stands fulfilled. In creating the â€œWhatâ€™s Your Treeâ€ program and birthing the Engage Network, we fully breathe life into Juliaâ€™s story, and provide tools to create new leaders who are responsible for creating new leaders, who, in turn, create more leaders in more communities, all over the world. With this program, we implement a clever strategy that, in the context of community, gives people a road map to uncover their highest purpose and then to take action, over time. And we do it in vintage Circle of Life style, with a heavy dose of joy and love, under the spectacularly competent leadership of our beloved Executive Director, Alissa Hauser.
So, in this auspicious season, I leave you with an invitation: sometime soon, put yourself in a place you feel happy, whether it is sitting by the ocean, in your bathtub or on a park bench, and stop long enough to become aware of your breath. And as you breathe in that life-giving air, infuse your body with permission to walk into the virtuosity that is your life. Become present to the truth that â€œyou, yes you, make the difference in the worldâ€. Then get up and do something.