In an experience chock full of surreal happy moments, the daily sun salutation led by our intrepid volunteer coordinator, Chet, came in just behind all things elephant (even elephant poop patrol, sorry Chet ).
There is a moment sometimes, just before I do something really different where there is a pause, a nanosecond really, when I get to choose whether to throw myself into the experience or play the critic. It took a mere breath before I threw myself into Chet’s Sun Salutation lock stock and barrel. I loved it with not a shred of irony, sarcasm or even my trademark raised eyebrow. I refused to look at anyone lest they were less enthusiastic and would then taint my experience.
Volunteer coordinators make the experience of the grunt work part of volunteering so great. They create teams from 60 strangers haling all around the world and help create an army for the elephants. Can you imagine trying to organize 60 volunteers? VCs are the difference between chaos and actually getting stuff done.
And through all this is the magical elf named Chet, Elephant Nature Park’s lead volunteer coordinator. I am sure a book could be written about him and I’d like to write it, just to get the goods on him. He is whip smart, clever, funny and willing to pose endlessly for all the volunteers. His claim to fame (because he is a fame monster) is his outfits. He could easily give Lady Gaga a run for her money. Flamboyant doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Mornings are when Chet is at his most Chet-iest, spiritually, physically and, Goddess bless him, wardrobe-wise. Imagine it is 7:30am and he has us in a circle to do our morning exercises. He is dressed in fluffy animal slippers (seriously, I think they were bunnies), a big hat with ear flaps, animal print jammies and likely, sunglasses stolen from Dame Edna… and he is doing jumping jacks and cajoling us to join him. Conga lines are also a favourite.
Finally it is time for the Sun Salutation. We all turn to face the sun with our arms out and our palms open. The soft Thai light slants across across the field where the elephants are starting to move around and greet each other, their feet causing the dry dirt to rise, smudging the air . Chet urges us to close our eyes and deeply breathe in the life force, the sun, air and love. He tells us to always follow our dreams, that if we don’t love ourselves we will be lost. That, even if everyone turns against us, as long as we are true to ourselves, we will thrive. There are often 40 people in that parking lot, all with the common intent to do good in this world and we send out our love and gratitude for this moment, this experience and for all these wondrous people. Chet’s Sun Salutation helped ground me in the moment and kept my head from flying off, over-whelmed at the freaking awesomeness of this whole experience. His monologue of love and acceptance was the perfect start to my day.
Then he would get us to breathe deeply three times, then open our eyes and smile! And we would. And we would clap. And Chet would yell at us to love ourselves. And I would feel part of that wondrous place and those amazing people.
Thank you Chet, your Sun Salutation added yet another flavour to that wondrous dish that is the Elephant Nature Park.