While I enjoyed work in Dallas and I was experiencing success in my job, I decided to resign from my position and devote myself full time to the company I had started a couple years earlier.
Leaving my job took me from my experience of life while working in Dallas, to actually living in Dallas.
Living in Dallas was very difficult for me.
Just as my first experience performing Agnihotra involved a police officer detaining me, I felt the suspicion of those in the community that would observe me practicing Agnihotra.
I don’t miss Agnihotra, and wherever I am when the sun rises and sets, I am prepared to perform Agnihotra, whether I’m at home or outside. Sometimes that would require me to perform Agnihotra in the car, park, alley, parking lot, or other public space.
But whenever I performed Agnihotra outside of my home, I could feel the suspicion and anxiety of onlookers. I didn’t recall feeling this in other cities where I had performed Agnihotra, but it was particularly present in Dallas.
Dallas was a very homogeneous culture, and I didn’t dress or carry myself in a manner that fit in. Further, people didn’t recognize Agnihotra or understand why I was lighting a fire in public.
On occasion, I would be approached by concerned citizens and police officers, in which I would explain that I was performing a healing practice. Sometimes it would result in a conversation to help share the practice. Sometimes it would simply allay the concerns of others.
Though it was rarely pleasant, I maintained my balance performing Agnihotra with the feeling of suspicion in the atmosphere, feeling the concern of onlookers.
Of course, Agnihotra impacts the environment, and over time it would impact the atmosphere I was feeling in Dallas. And perhaps Dallas needed more Agnihotra to be performed there. But I nonetheless felt the suspicion during my practice.
This feeling was also coupled with my social life in Dallas. While I had friends and a social circle, I never felt like I was completely accepted. I couldn’t help but notice that I would not be acknowledged in conversation when we met new people, but rather ignored until an explicit introduction. This would be a consistent theme in every social encounter.
I recall one time when I went out to dance (I would train in dance earlier in my life), and the song “No Scrubs'' came on. I remember when the lyrics came on to the song “I don’t want no scrub,” a lady who was with a group turned directly to me and pointed at me while she was reciting the lyrics.
Wow, I’m that guy, huh?
Honestly, I felt like a second-class citizen living in Dallas.
I reflected quite a bit on this moment in time. In theory I should be at a point where other people’s opinions of me shouldn’t affect me. Also, this is an area of growth for me. If I’m feeling ostracized, I should be able to develop through my practice to rise above these feelings.
So what is the right thing to do? Face this challenge and grow through the adversity? Or is it acknowledging that Dallas was simply not a city that resonated with me? Would another city be better for me (e.g., Austin, where my cousin had recently moved to and suggested I move there)?
I always see adversity as opportunities for growth. I wasn’t happy living in Dallas, but if left would I be missing an opportunity for growth?
I reflected on this question for sometime. Eventually, an answer came to me in a dream, and that dream provided me with the lesson I needed to learn.
In the dream, I was in a living room in a home with about a dozen other people from Dallas. We were all sitting down and watching TV. It was coming close to Agnihotra time and I was preparing to light the fire. I then received harsh criticism from the group. “What am I doing?” “Why am I lighting a fire?” “Don’t you know that’s not safe?”
I remember feeling extremely angered by the comments and criticism. Defiantly, I lit the fire over their objections, and made the Agnihotra offering.
After the offering, I looked back up to the group, and they had all turned their attention away from me and back on to the TV, completely oblivious to the fire.
It occurred to me that they just simply did not understand, and I shouldn’t be angry at them for their lack of understanding and tolerance regarding my practice of Agnihotra.
This taught me an important lesson in tolerance, particularly in the face of persecution.
After this dream and this message, I felt I learned the lesson I needed to learn from Dallas.
It was then that I made the decision to move to Austin. And it was in Austin where I would find my community.