Back at boot camp
I watch her through the barrier of this van window. Across 15 feet of concrete. And through a building window. And that window is framed by two women in masks talking across the distance of six feet.
But you already know that this is a bizarre time.
I could tell you something about the inexplicable exhaustion of overseeing three children in a virtual learning environment. Come 4:00 p.m. daily, my wilted body is akin to that of a parent with a newborn. Or in the weeks and months following the death of a loved one.
Which I suppose makes great sense.
Because this is a time of the death of one way.
This is the time of the birth of another.
And in that time I feel an old and familiar emotion of shame intertwined with more.
Shame that I “shouldn’t” be this tired. That my life is not “that” hard for God’s sake. That I have all that I need with a roof over our heads, food in our kitchen, safe places to sleep and clothes to step into. That I don’t fear for my life when I get in my car. Or fear for my children’s lives when I send them out to play. That I “should” be doing more than I am for our world and its inequities. For the interminable suffering that exists day in and day out.
Shame rolls in when I get comparative about my experiences to vast swaths of the country. And the world.
And I see something within that. I see a desire to do more. And a not knowing of what the more is. I see the debilitating nature of shame. That it locks me down in (doubly) shameful hiding. I don’t want it to be there – shamefully hiding from my shame. But it is real. And very likely part of the exhaustion.
So I wonder… what else is with it?
Ah, yes. The shame is the pretzel twisting, mind numbing, body paralyzing dark side of
Gratitude that is simple and straightforward.
For my family.
For my home.
For my children.
For my life.
And that cloud like gratitude then crashes into a thermocline of more complexity in shame’s upswell…….
I could take this further.
But I don’t think I am supposed to. I don’t think I’m there quite yet.
Because my eyes just went back to tracking Nora through the van window, across the pavement, between the ladies and through the studio window. I see her practicing jumping. Knees bent and doing her best to get off the ground.
No shame in that, right? It’s dang hard to get off the ground high enough to point your feet when you’re 5.
It’s also dang hard to get off the ground high enough to look “just right” in these new days of unfolding.
We are new to so much of this. Practicing practicing. Perhaps ashamed when we don’t do it right. Or when we don’t think we’re doing anything at all. Or afraid that we will hurt someone.
Through our action. Or lack of action.
The corners close in and our bodies brace against the sides of the narrow walls.
Welcome to the secret world of most every one of us. The smashed brake of a hold back because “I’m not doing it right.” The wicked tension between “I should do that” and “I am doing this.” The shame of embers in the chest that “I am not doing enough.”
Yoga – or any practice when skewed toward achievement – can be a vortex of these thoughts and feelings. Our yoga practice must “look right” and we must “understand it” and we have to do it “the right way.”
These feelings are not new.
The context is new.
But screw that. There is no right way. There are just a bunch of different ways. And you get to mash those up into whatever path is your’s to find your way.
So looking out there right now, I am sure you see people doing amazing things. Finding their way. Rocking this all with their self care and their balancing of doing with being. Shifting the status quo in their own unique ways.
And I’m sure you feel the helplessness as we careen down this enclosed tube slide of a year coated in ice and slicked with a top coat of Crisco.
But I see Nora.
Through this window,
across the pavement,
between the ladies and through the glass door.
I see her squatting down.
Getting lower so she can learn to go higher.
I see her learning.
We can learn too.
The unnameable and impossible to put in boxes Now is preparing us for something. Allow yourself to be in training. You’re weight lifting for the heart. For the mind.
We are in the midst of a birth.
We are in the midst of a death.
We are training.
We are watching.
We are learning.
We are expanding.
We are imbibing every last drop.
Get low. Work the ground.From this fierce, confused and loving heart straight to your’s,