I have returned to my yoga. I’d been afraid to try for a long time after my fall. My wrists were still healing. The first time I try my sun salutes, I am caught off guard by how much the bottom of my palms hurt, not just my wrists. Today is the third or maybe the fourth time I try, so I am not surprised by the pain, and now I know it will ease up if I keep going, slow and gentle. When I swoop up to standing at the end of each salutation, head thrown back, I see the fat, white crescent moon above me in the daylight sky. With each ending, there she is, her happy greeting a delight. And then when I stand again, there is my gal circling above me, my mama red-tailed hawk, as if she is waiting for me to know she is there, and the papa hawk, too. They circle twice more, an affectionate, lingering check-in, and off they go. I can’t stop grinning.
The moon muted by clouds
me trudging up the steep street
(it’s a fucking 90-degree angle,
I say, angry to be prodded to walk)
I wonder if it’s so hard to climb this hill
because I am weighted down by my anger
or if it is only because I carry with me
the grief of a lifetime
but the waxing moon carries me in turn
and I am glad for the company
as I climb.
I am in the corner of my mother’s yard drinking my tea in the late afternoon. I see a shape perched on the dead yucca stem at the top eastern side of the ridge, the one where the red-tailed hawks’ offspring often sits. I don’t know for sure if it’s him or one of his parents, but he turns in my direction when I look through my binoculars. “Oh, hello, love,” I whisper. When I put down the binoculars, my eyes still scan the ridgeline near him. I spot an odd shape a few “inches” to the north of his spot, maybe seven yards away from his yucca stem. I squint at it as it moves and my mind makes sense of it, the almost-full waxing moon rising in the daylight sky. Its movement is quick, surprising. What began as a smooth white arc that didn’t belong with the ragged edges of the chaparral morphs into the moon’s face, her eyes and mouth visible, only a bit of the left side still unseen. She shares the ridgeline with the red-tailed hawk, both companion and blessing. And both of them are both to me, small, odd human in my chair below, honored to pieces, and made whole.
I sit in the warm almost dark at the Fullerton train station. To my right, the western sky and its smog-rich orange keep deepening. To my left, the almost full moon rises, a lopsided oval, bright and clear in the blue black sky. I sit and procrastinate on my grading.
[re-posted from today’s tweet @tryingmywings]
Sitting this evening
I am weeding my driveway
trying to figure out my first smart phone
planning the November writing retreat.
I am fully in the room
part of our sweet circle.
Then an imaginary conversation
with a friend and writing companion
certain I hurt her feelings in the afternoon
not able to let it go.
walking home from the bus
the clouds part
for the new moon, big thin bright sickle
and the huge dark orb of her, too.
I stop in the middle of the road
to watch her disappear behind the mountain.
Good night, moon
No more busy mind.
My mother’s going to walk Auntie Gardi out to her car. It’s late, late afternoon when the air begins to chill. She’s standing on the walkway waiting for Auntie Gardi and I to say goodbye. She’s wearing her brown fuzzy coat. It’s the coat that speaks to me without my knowing. It tells me she’s better now, this clear evidence of her taking care of herself. And so when she comes back inside the house I rant at her, that kind of angry outpouring that comes to some of us after danger has passed, when we are no longer holding fear at bay, after we know our loved one is going to be okay. I’m rinsing out the kitchen sink, and even before I’m done venting I am overcome by self hatred. I feel like I can’t contain it. I don’t know what to do, so I go for a walk. I can’t breathe for the welling up of venom against me. I walk downhill. “May I hold this feeling with kindness,” I say. I can’t imagine being able to, but I ask anyway, over and over. When I get to Ocean View, I sit on the curb and cry. Then there is enough room to breathe again even though the self hatred is still pushing up against the inside of my skin, red angry waves of it. I climb back up the hill, look over my shoulder. And there through the branches of the pine trees below me are Venus and the waxing crescent moon. Something softens inside me when I see them together in the late dusk sky. Another voice wonders: how do I deserve these greetings again and again, these tender signposts? Later, I think: I can’t remember the last time I felt that volume of hatred toward myself. Am I going backward? And then I realize what was different here. Yes, I was overcome. I didn’t know how to hold it. It was so big. But it was only feeling. It didn’t have a voice, no words. I wasn’t telling myself what a horrible person I was for yelling at my mother. I felt like I didn’t know how to hold the feeling, but I wasn’t aiming it at myself. I wasn’t attacking. I wasn’t being mean to me. So, no. Not going backward after all. This was something new.
For the first time in ages, I’m enjoying the luxury of easing into the new year. I took the week off, and I’ve been attending special daily sessions at our meditation center. At first, I was going to plan a demanding daily schedule of writing and sitting practice to accompany these evenings of sitting and teaching. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to stick to my schedule,” I said. Marylou and Richard and I were sitting together on their patio. Richard suggested in the kindest of ways I might be more easy with myself. At the time, I felt defensive and not understood. “Retreats are supposed to be challenging,” I grumbled. But later, I let his gentle words sink through me, and I ease off of expecting so much of myself. Instead of pushing, I let myself sleep in, dawdle over tea, do my morning writing and sitting practices propped up in bed with the San Jacintos stretched out before me. I make soup, nap, read, eat popcorn. Each evening I step outside, close the door behind me. The solar Christmas lights in the bougainvillea greet me in the dark courtyard. One night the crescent moon is cupping Venus. The next night Mars and the waxing moon and Venus are all in a row. They accompany me on my half-hour walk to the meditation center, the air brisk on my face, my scarves soft and warm against my ears. After, the stars walk me home. One morning midway through, I cry without knowing why. But I trust in the rightness of it. One afternoon I fight on the phone with a loved one. I make her cry. When I hang up, I remember to hold my self-hatred with kindness, identify the swirl of other feelings, five in all. I picture them nested in my open palms, the tenderness immense. One day during the teaching I am overcome. To think, we are all here wanting to heal, working toward becoming the peace we want to see in the world. What a gift to be able to do this together. On day seven, a morning session, I look back as I leave my courtyard and see scores of goldfinch in the bare branches of my neighbor’s tree, like ornaments, like lemons. I walk to the center, happy I am me, so glad for these eight days of practice, for the connection with this sangha, this community. The air is cold on my face, but I am warm in my layers. I feel the way I used to feel on a winter night flanked by Sofia and Sable, their small weights warm against my calves, my belly. I would lie there in the quiet dark and cry because I knew I must be the luckiest woman in the world.