I unroll my thick green yoga mat in the small flat space beside the shallow end of the pool. It’s full dark already, but I am determined to do my yoga. I face west to do my sun salutes and picture the sun still setting somewhere beyond the curve of the world. After, lying on my back in chavasana, there are more stars in the sky than I remember seeing here before. The moon hangs above me, just to the left. I lie still for a long time, open to the sky, bathing in the silent, magic light.
These days I can still become unglued in an instant, leap from grateful and open, watching a roadrunner beside the creek path, to cursing people quietly behind my mask. In our humid days, our brutal heat, my sweat is salty on my lips, on the brush of the back of my hand. I move from minutia, from frustration with the online Ralph’s order, the jarring conversation about hearing aids—I move from this weighted trivia into outerspace, long moments lying on my back in chavasana, tears pooling in my ears, my body both wedded to the earth and light, as if I might float off, join the crescent moon in the daylight sky, healing in the depths of me in tiny, magic, unseen moments.
[Editor’s note: This piece came from three drawn words in our spontaneous writing session today: salty, outerspace, unglued.]
Day 11 I feel like living proof we are only given what we can bear. I am not pointing to biblical references, only the proverbial sayings, and I don’t even know if I believe this is true. I think sometimes we break, and then if we are lucky we mend. But today she wakes better, more like herself. The angry attacks come less often. And the change feels calibrated to just before my tipping point. I could not have endured it much longer, but I only know this because it has lessened. I sense the full strain of it only now when there is some relief. Today in chavasana I fill with gratitude and leave two small puddles of tears on my green yoga mat when I am done. I marvel at the timing, this pushing me to the edge but not over. I’ve never been so aware of it, this intricate tuning. I bet it has happened before, many times. But today I am awake to it. I feel how big the gift.
Day 10 I lie in chavasana and know how tender I am, how vulnerable, how beaten up I feel by all her anger. Every nerve is raw, taut, humming, waiting for the next assault. I am afraid every moment. What will be next? The sliding glass door opens behind my head. I keep my eyes closed, but I cringe, waiting for the blow. “I’m afraid of you,” she says. She hurls the words at me, accusation not confession, and closes the sliding glass door with a thud. It is said to wound. She said it earlier, and the best I can gather is it is because I am so “strict.” She takes to calling me Hitler, says “Yes, ma’am” with such derision I yell at her to stop. So ugly. Today I lie here, my fear vibrating, and recognize the echo of childhood fear alive, too. I keep my eyes closed and breathe. May we both be safe and free from harm. May I know I am enough just as I am right now.
I lay out my green yoga mat on the far side of my mother’s pool. It seems like the best spot. The concrete is level, the valley stretched out before me to the west. The sun is low in the sky, and I angle my mat so when I’m standing I’ll be facing the orange ball while it sinks behind the mountains. (True sun salutes, I think.) I begin lying down, stretching my spine, my hips. Yesterday was the first day I did my yoga in a long, long time. I was surprised my arms were able to hold my weight when I lowered myself to the mat from plank position. I was wobbly when I came back up to standing, but it didn’t matter. I was just so glad to be doing it again. Today when I get to the sun salutations, my arms are sore from yesterday and won’t hold my weight in that slow lowering to the mat. I have to touch my knees down, and still my arms hurt with the weight of me. When I am back on the mat, dropping my knees from side to side, I see a little bird on the wall near me. I don’t have my glasses on, can’t be sure what kind he is. He looks like he might be a flycatcher, but he stays put on the wall. I decide he may be a young mockingbird, even though he is silent. I slow my movements, not wanting to startle him. He tilts his head, seems to be studying me, strange being on the ground. He stays on the wall for the rest of my yoga, and I am touched and honored by his company. The moon is out, too, bright with daylight. I am fragile today, so the wonder of these two companions swells my heart. When I sit up after chavasana, the bird is gone. But I can still touch his soft, quiet peace. Thank you, little one.
On and off all day today I feel like I want to cry. Each time, the small rush of feeling wells up, pushes behind my eyes and stops. No tears. And no real reason, either, for wanting to cry. Unless it is because I am being mean to myself, some subtle, silent conversation going on inside me. I have tried so hard this week to stay grounded in the wake of hectic work. By Tuesday I had already failed. Even Sable’s endless moanings at me weren’t enough to pierce my intense distraction, my other-where-ness. (He is such a good barometer for me. How did I miss that?) Today I lose most of the morning and part of the afternoon. At 2:22 I get to a stopping point with work, and inspired by the numbers I vow to not return to it until 4:44. It is my newest “plan,” to try to fully step away long enough to recover myself. I practice my yoga in the courtyard. After, lying in chavasana, I do cry for a moment, knowing I am being unkind. Real change takes time. I need to be patient, find my way in this. But I don’t want to sacrifice being present with my life for my work. And there are other things. I want to recognize and trust my intuition. I want to know when my tree needs water. I want more red blood cells, a happy thyroid. Lying on my yoga mat beneath the tree, I tell myself I am making good effort. I am growing and healing. But I want it all now, even though I know it all takes time. When I stand up again, I am okay. I am back. Now it’s 3:22. I still have an hour and 22 minutes that are my own. I make watermelon juice and drink it on the patio. I eat a handful of roasted walnuts, read another chapter of Natalie Goldberg’s book. (I am back to Thunder and Lightening.) When she feels “broken or splintered,” she tells us, she returns again and again to Silko’s Ceremony. “I let the ritual of the book,” she says, “make me feel whole again. I’m never ashamed to read a book twice or as many times as I want. We never expect to drink a glass of water just once in our lives. A book can be that essential, too.” It is this last sentence that makes me cry again. I have books like this, books that feed me, mend me, make me whole. But I think I cry because it is such a gift to have this, to know how essential a book can be. Like water. Like air. And I think I cry because of how it speaks to me, the intimacy, the sense of being seen, and a secret longing to be part of offering that, too. Now I am all the way back. I write the first draft of this week’s blog post. I drink more watermelon juice and sit in the courtyard breathing.