Tink at hillhacks

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Hillhacks is challenging to write about. It's got a lot going on. The only common theme of everyone's experience is transformed perspectives. People come to Dharamsala, attend hillhacks, and go away changed. They quit their jobs. They leap into projects with new collaborators. They fall in love. They change careers. They take the first step towards new dreams. They deepen their philosophy. They explore and discover the world.

So let me relate my shift in perspective.

Everyone at hillhacks knows me as Tink. 

Tink isn't fully me. She's a persona, a character, the extroverted, happy version of me. I put her on like a costume and she melds into who I am and how I behave. If Tink were visible, you'd see her as a multicolor patchwork tail coat. David Huang, our photographer, joked about making an album of "all the faces of Tink." She is expressive.

I wear my Tink persona pretty much all the time while I'm at hillhacks. It's non-stop activity and Tink helps me keep up. I'm busy assisting with things, smiling and connecting with people, teaching hula hoops and juggling, running off to schools to teach, taking care of whatever needs doing, and usually falling asleep by 9 pm. 

One evening as my energy was flagging, I mentioned that I normally run on sugar. The three meals a day that we received at hillhacks were delicious and nutritious, but confusing my body. From that day Tink was given chocolate and cake by all of her friends. Even the cooks heard my wishes because at the next afternoon tea, biscuits appeared. 

Wow. That was extremely unsettling. People I've only just met listened to me, heard me, and cared enough go out of their way to keep me happy and fed.

Logically and looking from outside myself, I guess understand it. Tink loves people, gives hugs, enthuses over and praises everyone's efforts. Tink wants the atmosphere to be bright and cheerful and works hard to make things good. This attitude resonates with people. So my lack-of-sugar lament became something tangible that hillhackers could do in return. They showed their appreciation in blocks of Fruit & Nut. I'd be hustling through the venue and someone would hand me a treat or there would be Bhagsu cake brought back from town especially for me. I shared the bounty with whomever was nearby and I radiated extra happiness and warmth to everyone around me.

I think I know what it must be like to be a goddess receiving offerings. If that sounds a little crazy, well, I don't think that I actually am a goddess (not even in the "all women are goddesses within" sense) or that anyone worships me. But I have experienced the fulfilling satisfaction of receiving offerings. Devotees of Tink's good humour attended to me in a very specific way so that I could continue to care for them.

So what's the big deal here, the shift? I finally see that people treasure Tink and they want to show me their love & regard. I can (and must) make space for that to happen. I should not shrug off compliments and thanks with embarrassment, but acknowledge that what I do is something worthwhile and sometimes even wonderful for the people around me.  It's sort of like when you pause at the end of a performance to allow the audience to applaud. I didn't realise that it applies to personal stuff, too. I think this realisation might be a game-changer.

All that chocolate and loving support has also given me the incentive to "go for it" and dive into more of my social circus dreams - everything from learning new skills for myself, to writing a resource book, to founding a travelling circus school. These dreams are 100% achievable.

So thanks to all the brilliant hillhackers for the chocolate and for helping me to see myself from a new perspective. 

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