I fell down the stairs a few years ago. It really hurt, and I got a nasty bruise on my back, but I didn’t really think about it much. I do that, move right along once the initial pain subsides. I’ve got things to do, places to go, people to see! The trouble is, my back never really healed properly, even though it felt okay. It got itself in a bit of a jumble that’s caused other problems, more irritating and insidious. I’ve tried visiting a chiropractor and acupuncturist to get rid of it, but nothing seemed to work. I’ve recently been working with a massage therapist, and she said, rather casually, that problems like these, ones that should heal but don’t are often the result of not being able to let go of something painful. This idea gave me pause. Is it true? Is there something I’ve been unwilling to loosen from my grasp?
I talked to my former student, now friend, Daniel last night. He’s coming for a short visit and wanted to be sure we saw each other, which we will. It’s nice to be thought of like that, wanted. I like it. Anyway, during our conversation, we talked about life and what we’re doing, and whether the work we do means anything or is going anywhere, despite the hours, days, weeks, and months we’ve been at it. In particular, I was thinking about my blog and the fact that my last post was the 500th (Zowie!). I’ve come to this space five hundred times, put myself out there as honestly and earnestly as I can, yet what is it doing, really? Where is it going? What is it about? What kind of blog is it? Honestly, I have no idea. I only do what feels right at the time.
I was at the library the other day, in a section I don’t normally browse, and found a sweet little book called Start Where You Are, by Pema Chodron. It’s about meditation and how to practice and cope with whatever life brings, mostly by letting go. I brought it home (along with a giant stack from the sections I do normally browse – libraries are awesome), and I’ve really been enjoying it. She writes in a very accessible style, with many personal anecdotes. I find myself laughing a lot and agreeing with her words, especially these: Give away what you don’t want. Give away what you most want. Nothing is concrete. There are no definitive answers. There’s only this moment and this breath.
Then, yesterday, I popped in a bonus Shiva Rea DVD, again, like the book, something I wouldn’t normally browse, and watched an interview with Shiva about the practice of yoga. At the beginning she said, “With yoga, you start where you are.” Well, the light bulbs went off friends. I thought about how true it is, especially in reference to Pema Chodron’s book. Nothing is concrete. Each moment is new. With each yoga practice, I start where I am. Sometimes, I am strong and steady, moving with grace and ease through the postures. Other times, like yesterday, I fall on my ass doing what is normally pretty simple.
Then I got to the big picture thoughts that have been weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve written five hundred blog posts and am nearly forty years old. This is a big deal, isn’t it? Something significant, concrete, should be happening, right? Fireworks? I should know what I’m doing, where I’m going, what I’m going to be. I should be making money. It’s about time.
Then, finally, it’s back to my massage therapist’s words and the book. Letting go. Everything is a passing memory. I’ve had these ideas and expectations my whole life. I’ve been holding on to the notion that I should know what I’m doing, be successful, that my back shouldn’t hurt, that I should like everyone. It’s all very concrete and solid, like the knots in my back. But what if I looked at life differently? What if I allowed a space for softness, for not knowing, not grasping. What if I let go of all the stories? What if I start where I am right now, again and again, no destination, no need to be anything different than what I am. What will happen then?
I guess I will see.