I led yoga last night (more and more it’s clear that I don’t ‘teach’ – I merely get up and offer myself – whatever comes out may or may not resonate with those who gather, but there it is for the taking). I faltered through a breathing exercise, trying to set it up while my mind was still in the fog of a long week, my brain overly full with meetings and documents, lesson times and overdue bills. Despite my miscues, a group of us sat in a late afternoon room and breathed together. This, it turns out, is a magical thing. The fidgety ones move a little less. The sad ones become a bit lighter. The glowing ones, already centered, reach a juicy realm that nurtures those nearby.
In that slanting light, I found my voice, listening in to where to take us next – as though during a hike in the woods I’d noticed the fuzzy caterpillar whose presence suggests ‘north’ would be a good next turn. We sunk into a twist, spines melting toward the earth, then folded forward, pouring forth the contents of our brains.
Stop thinking. Move slowly. Breathe not into stillness or silence, which is easier to say, but rather into a place where you can hear the static on your own LP.
Today: Cleaning the top of my long neglected dresser, an informal museum of my life, I open a small box and expect to find it empty or perhaps holding a piece of forgotten jewelry. Instead I find a seemingly plain oyster-colored rock. Is there a story to this rock that I’ve forgotten? Should I keep it? It has years and years it could share. But for now, it’s better released outside.
Smashed toward the back of the dresser is a piece of graph paper with my handwriting – laundry detergent, toothpaste, cider vinegar, raisins, parsley. The list tells no specific story of place or season but speaks to one week being like every other, the ongoing needs of a family, one bar of soap melting into the next, each bottle of olive oil much like the one before and yet singular.
I pick up the necklace my daughter made last winter for which I have yet to get a black string on which to wear it. It’s nestled next to notes from a yoga training: “The mind is like a drunk monkey bitten by a scorpion searching for a black cat in a dark room.” And there’s another scrap on which I jotted ‘messages’ from runes chosen while standing at my friend’s kitchen counter in Long Island last summer (a house now sitting in quiet darkness, no power for nearly a week since the hurricane): “Action: Something hidden. Letting go. Trust.”
We know the dance. We know what holds us and nurtures us. It’s there if we listen. I’m trying to lose my way, knowing that the path that will appear will be the authentic one.
My friend David passed away a few weeks ago. His death came out of the blue – an unexpected punctuation mark at the end of a beautiful day in Paris spent with his dear wife, his best friend of forty-one years. I’ve had a strong sense of David since then – of his big heart and joie de vivre. He ordered wine by the bottle, led groups of Boy Scouts for years when his kids were younger, and sweated through yoga classes in which he was never afraid to let out a big sigh in a class of much younger students. He’d recently retired and was doing yoga, cooking, volunteering at the animal shelter. “Let go, Jennifer,” I can hear him say to me now, knowing that for many years he was the kind of person who kept everything and everyone around him together, holding too tight to an invisible line, the responsibility for which had given him a sore jaw and back. But recently he’d been discovering what it meant to release, to let not only his hips sink but to let his lists go, emptying pockets as well as his mind.
I can see him smiling at me, raising his eyebrows over his heavy glasses in a face filled with love but tinted with a bit of warning: “Now. Do it now. Don’t wait.”