In 1994, my husband Vic received another rejection letter for his book Synchronicity, Science, and Soulmaking. He added the latest rebuff to a small stack of rejections sitting under the feet of a jade elephant statue on his altar. The elephant-headed and elephant-bellied Hindu God Ganesha or Ganesh is Remover of Obstacles, Lord of Beginnings, and Patron Saint of Writers.
Deeply discouraged, Vic dreamed of a cheerful and fat young male elephant. The smiling elephant sat in a director’s chair with a tree trunk arm thrown protectively over Vic’s shoulders.
“I need to remember that I’m not in charge,” Vic told me the next morning. “Ganesh is in the director’s chair, not me.”
Vic submitted his manuscript to more publishers and soon there was an acceptance.
In 2013, I write at the desk where Vic worked until his death. To my right, on a high shelf beyond my reach, Vic’s Ganesh altar watches over me. The altar is dusty and neglected. For years, I have averted my eyes.
In Hindu mythology, Ganesh is the scribe of the Mahabharata, one of two epics of ancient India that includes the Bhagavad Gita. I remember the Bhagavad Gita’s message well. Do the work assigned to you without expecting worldly reward or success. The action itself and the quiet mind that comes from serving something bigger than ourselves is the fruit of our labor. Do the work and let the Gods (and Goddesses) take care of the rest. These are challenging goals for a woman full of attachment and expectation.
I pull a chair beneath Vic’s elephant altar and climb up to inspect it closely. There are a dozen images from a ¾ inch tall 4-armed seated statue to a regal 7” standing figure. Ganesh usually has four arms. Sometimes he dances with his consorts Siddhi (success) and Riddhi (prosperity). He often sits on a throne of skulls, reminding us of time and mortality. Most of Vic’s images are stone or bronze, but a few are painted in bright primary colors. Most were gifts, given to Vic after he fell in love with the temple elephants in South India. In a favorite image, Ganesh holds a pen and sits in front of a thick book–the Mahabharata, I presume.
Ganesh was Vic’s favorite, but now I need help finishing my book and preparing it for submission. Try this, try that. The solutions must be within me somewhere. It’s time to borrow Vic’s benefactor and sit at the feet of the Patron Saint of Writers.
I carefully remove the elephant statues and images and wipe down the shelf with a damp cloth. I inspect each image, dusting and blowing away the dirt that has accumulated in the crevasses and rearrange the images with a handwritten prayer.
Thank you for watching over me even when I ignored Your Presence. Allow me to write with a joyful heart and positive purpose. Let me remember that it is my job to do the work and leave the outcome to You.
With gratitude for Your guidance, Elaine