A couple of weeks ago on our trip to Virginia, I saw two old friends. It has been 17 years since we met in college and about 3 years since our last visit or chat. I marveled at this experience. Why? Because I’m a professional explorer of patterns. Because I could feel how the ways that I interact with these two women are deeply engrained in my system. How I respond to their tones; how I chew on their words; how I receive their deep and open love for me as a friend. How I see them and know they KNOW me.
The first few minutes of greetings were surreal. They knew the early adult, rough and gritty Rachel that was constantly living through the fuzzy lens of “What will everyone think?” They still know some of my oldest tire tracks (aka: patterns of acting and reacting) and they know them well. They were both a huge part of my support during that darker period of my life and provided anchors that helped my sails avoid staying toppled day after day.
On the drive up, my son asked “Mama, are you excited to see them?” I paused before responding. I had to feel. Yes, I was excited. And there was more. (There is always more.) I had butterflies in my stomach and my throat was quite thick. It felt like there was little space for breath or food to get down those hollows but not in a panicky way. Simply in an “Oh – isn’t that physical reaction to meeting my past curious?” kind of way. And then when I saw them and had ridden through the initial “This is almost like a dream that you’re in front of me. Are you real?”, we quickly hit the “It’s like no time has passed.” stage of talking and being.
There arrived the awe. Although we hadn’t spoken in years, those tire tracks were so deeply in my brain that after minutes together, we all felt that “It’s like no time has passed.” I immediately felt loved, seen, and supported. The thickness of my throat was gone. Our interactions were well oiled and our time together was full of ease, honesty and support for one another in a new stage of life. I’m sure you’ve felt this before with dear friends that you haven’t seen in a good bit of time.
It got me to thinking about “old” and “new” integrating in my body. I used to have consistent restriction in my neck, tension in my shoulders and intense migraine headaches. It was a grittier period of body experience for me. And now I know more ease through my daily therapeutic yoga practice. My old tire tracks that I associate with more pain and strain have just as much value in their ability to help me heal as my new tire tracks of ease and more suppleness in my body. They both inform me of where I am. Of what my body needs. Of what my heart needs.
This reminds me of a verse from a Y Guides song that my Grandmother used to sing to me:
“Make new Friends but keep the old,
One is silver and the other gold.”
My reoccurring patterns of tension and strain are friends of gold for me. We have a history and I know when they are trying to get my attention now. They are well worn grooves. I no longer ignore them and push them to the background. I listen when they start to whisper. These whispers of more subtle awareness are silver friends for me. When I hear the whispers, I respond with action or stillness as they may desire, and the tension tends to settle down like a satiated baby after a feed and a snuggle. Together, I am rich with awareness and unlimited opportunity to keep feeling better. And better. And better.
I’d love to hear reflections, comments or questions that come up for you by email.