Long ago in a galaxy far away, or just recently and right over there, there lived a pesky little monkey named Hanuman. Apart from being a young monkey, who are all pesky enough as it is, Hanuman was also the son of the Queen of the Monkeys and the God of the Wind. So he wasn’t just a pesky young monkey – he was a pesky young monkey who was half god. Yeah.
I mean really. Can you imagine? He had all sorts of powers: he could grow enormous, shrink down tiny, and leap so far that he could practically fly. He was so strong that he could remove mountaintops. And he used his powers to make mischief.
What didn’t Hanuman get into? His antics were so raucous that he attracted the attention of the gods. And after he nearly succeeded in plucking the very sun from the sky – believing it was the juiciest ripest mango around – they decided that something must be done.
And so, Hanuman was cursed. His powers weren’t taken from him, no. He was simply cursed to forget about them. To forget what he was capable of. To forget who he truly was.
Fast forward into adulthood. Hanuman had become a being full of humility and grace, and had dedicated his life to service. A point came when his dearest friend desperately needed Hanuman’s help, and Hanuman wanted just as desperately to provide it. Only, he didn’t believe he could.
That’s when Hanuman’s friend Jambavan, a giant blue bear, stepped in. “Hanuman. Listen. It’s time. Remember what you can do. Hanuman! Remember who you are.”
When Hanuman remembered what he was truly capable of, he was able to save the day.
* * *
Though this story from the Hindu tradition is hundreds of years old, it is so relatable. It’s so easy, in this life, to lose sight of ourselves. It’s arguable that it’s impossible not to, really, under the weight of pressure to conform that seems inherent in our culture. We are cursed by constant messages about who and what we should be, and by finding that we don’t measure up: We believe the advertisements that tell us we must own products x, y, and z. We believe the P.E. teacher who told us we’re worthless if we can’t run a six minute mile. We believe the billboard that makes clear that a beach body looks like something very different than what we find beneath our own clothes. And all put together, we begin to believe that unless we are someone other than our true selves, we cannot be happy.
But that’s all crap. In fact, the only way that we can truly thrive is to live as our authentic selves. We must remember – and embrace – who we truly are. If only doing so were as easy as calling b.s. on the nonsense.
Hey Hanuman? It’s Jambavan… Are you ready to remember what you’re capable of when you put your mind to it? Are you ready to remember who you are?