Awoke with a deep ache in my heart, but fuzzy like that something missing had been stuffed full of cotton balls. The sky was blue, the leaves bursting with fiery reds & oranges, seasoned with saffron yellow. (The goddamned birds are chirping!)
“Nope, don’t want to do it.”
I wrestled with the idea of just staying in bed until work this evening. Realizing how much more upset I’d be with that choice, I put on LCD Soundsystem, cleaned the house, then cried. I made myself a smoothie, sat down, and then I cried. The shuddering, red-faced, snot dripping kind of cry, one leg flung up on the dining room chair and a good chunk of hair in my right hand.
I love riding my bike & I love practicing yoga, both things I’d been neglecting for a few days. Exercise and sunlight. Endorphins and Vitamin D! (It really is a lovely ride.) Of course I picked up some glass or some screw or nail, and after tearing through my bag for an outrageous two minutes, looking for the spare tube that I knew I’d forgotten to pack, I started to laugh. I smiled walking the rest of the way to class, and you know what…I met new people. We opened the heart chakra. We moved from Camatkarasana (wild thing) into Chakrasana (wheel pose), and it was fun. I stopped into Randy’s Recycled Cycles to grab a tube, subsequently meeting my new bike mechanic, Matthew.
I guess my point is that allowing myself to feel the sadness, not move away from it, resulted in a more comfortable state. Thinking back on times when I have ignored my emotions or numbed them, I can see now that my emotional development was stunted. Feeling the temporary discomfort, maybe crying like hell, and getting back up is the only way to evolve. It’s a new month so try something you’ve never done before, right? From subtle to extreme, when we live with volition, we become better humans.
The other night I was doing the dishes and my youngest son came into the kitchen bouncing a ball. Without looking up he asked me, “how long are our lives?” My impulse was to say, “a very long time.” Instead, I said, “Nobody really knows how long their lives are.”
He continued ball bouncing and seemed un-phased.
I tried to imagine from his perspective what “not knowing” feels like.
We wake up every day not knowing so much. Not knowing the big things like whether we will be alive tomorrow, or lose our jobs or our spouses or God forbid our children. Every day we learn about an unexpected loss or shift in a person’s life. We don’t know what life will bring no matter how much we plan and organize ourselves around what we think we want. Our expectations of what we think will happen so often fall short of the reality of what does actually happen.
It’s no wonder we savor and cling to our practices: to have something that provides us with tools to feel safe amidst a world that can be so uncertain.
What can we know?
We can know our bodies. We can know that our feet are touching the ground. We can know our senses. We can know when we are present. We can know when we need support or guidance or a hug or space. We can know how to ask for what we need. And we can know how to listen better.
No matter our preferences of poses or places or people and no matter our differences, we are bound by the mysteries of the lives we share. Remembering that, wouldn’t it be wondrous if the one thing we could know is that we could depend upon each others’ kindness at all times and in every time?
Once upon a time my love teacher and I traveled to Mexico to spend some days living in a thatched hut, swimming in the sea, and soaking up some sun. We lived in a community of yogis who dressed mainly in loose shawls, which they dropped to the sand when they wanted to swim, entering the sea naked.
I’m going to stop asking the question most often asked of yogis after an asana class: “How was class?”
I’ve asked this question hundreds of times to hundreds of yogis, because it seems harmless enough a question to ask. We might even think of it as a caring question. We want you to be happy, we want you to have a good class, we want to find inspiring classes ourselves, so… how was class?
Many of the best-known writers on non-attachment are men—such as Anthony de Mello, who explains how attachment destroys love in his little book, “The Way to Love,” and Eckhart Tolle, who distinguishes love from “normal addictive relationships” in his passage, “Real Love Doesn’t Make You Suffer.”
I’ve shared these challenging teachings with fellow yogis, and some have pointed out the gender of the writers.
It’s one thing for a man to be non-attached, they’ve told me, but it’s another thing for a woman—because women create beings in their bodies and send them out into the world.