Just the name Guru offers me a sense of solace. In ancient Sanskrit, a guru is defined as a person with great knowledge, wisdom or authority.
In these days of confusion and uncertainty, just the mere mention of someone who knows more than I and who can offer answers to the unknown is quite appealing indeed.
Without even realizing it, I have searched my whole life for these gurus in some form or fashion - people who knew so much more than I and who could direct me, so I wouldn't make mistakes or at least make them less frequently. At first I sought out gurus for my writing - thinking if I found the perfect Master of Fine Arts program or the most knowledgeable writing coach, I would truly learn what it means to be a decent and productive writer.
Then the search continued in my practice of yoga. I beat every bush and researched every style from Ashtanga to Bikram and Kripalu wanting to find the training and the instructor who could bring me some sort of enlightenment. Someone to show me what I might be missing and how to find it.
Even in homeschooling my son, I wandered about on the Internet and within my community in search of someone to tell me what I was doing right and what I could improve upon when it came to educating a highly intelligent kid.
Each time I thought I had finally found a person to be that perfect Guru, I would be disappointed when I realized this person, or persons, was just that - a human being with frailties of his or her own. Each time I realized I didn't want or really even need to listen to anyone, anyone but myself.
Why does it take so long in life to figure out that there isn't just one person who can lead us toward enlightenment - whether it's spiritually or in the physical every day jobs we do? Why does it take so long to realize that the knowledge is within our own heart, we just have to listen to what it is saying and act upon it.
The only answer I can come up with is that it boils down to confidence in ourselves. Acquiring the confidence that we need to realize we alone can move forward and figure it all out, even if we hit a few pot holes now and again on this pathway of life.
Yes, gurus exist. I think they're all around us. They are not all knowing and all seeing people, though. They are simply other human beings on the same journey who offer up reminders that we're either a) on the right path or b) way off track. They are people like the bagger at the grocery store who tells you that your positive attitude and smile have made an impression on them. Or, the bookstore owner who says she can't believe how widely read your homeschooling son is, let alone how grown up he seems. Or the friend that sends a card for no reason at all, except to tell you she loves you and everything you are.
These are the gurus in my life. They are the daily reminders that I am doing something right, even if it seems all wrong every single day.
I think all we can do is follow our hearts and that will lead us to where we need to be. No one person has all the answers, thank goodness. But maybe, if we listen a little to a lot of people we will find the answers together.