I woke up this morning and I wanted to exclaim happiness from the porch for the world to hear. Life is easy, life is dependable, and life continues to offer me glorious unexpected glimmers of joy wherever I look. Sometimes, like this morning, the joy bubbles up in my chest and I have to throw it somewhere. I’m blogging about it now because, well, its my modern version of shouting from the rooftop. This poor neglected corner of the Internet has been gathering dust in the last weeks, and deserves some light and love.
Writing here doesn’t claim much of my attention anymore. I’m not sure if that will change in weeks and months ahead. I’m busy with my job (which I happen to love), my son (at whom I marvel every moment), and my life, which is wonderful and miraculous. I still practice a lot of yoga. I still want to meditate more, and I’m almost always so full of gratitude I have trouble not smiling hugely at everyone I encounter.
Something stirred inside me today. Some deep part of me that was buried– in my chronically tight shoulders or neck, I believe. Both are more open now, but it did not come easily.
Maybe it was the discouraging week I had, the rain and tropical storm warnings left few opportunities to be outside for very long, and I was starting to get quieted down and overly-rested with the weather. But then during this morning’s practice, something stirred, released, and left a multitude of emotions and feelings in its wake. It was about being assertive, knowing what is worth fighting for, and what to calmly walk away from. My quiet and grateful mood on the morning drive to the studio seemed to match the lunchtime traffic–aggressive and in a hurry. I wanted to be first in line at the farm stand, and I utilized my car’s turbo more often than I really needed to, arriving home with a shorter temper than when I left.
One of the things about yoga: it touches everything in your life, if you let it. My yoga practice is like wringing out a cloth, there is always more to be extracted and manifested. I return to it day after day (err, hour after hour…) because it brings me such a solid ground from which to move. So I am surprised and disquieted when I leave my mat feeling emotional and mentally weary, but I shouldn’t be.
Yoga has been better for me than my thirteen straight years of talk therapy. It usually gently prods free the things I’d rather not think about but need to release to make room for more love. It is very jarring to sit up from a savasana with less steadiness than when we start, but it is an important part of the process. Its like the newly released emotions are still powerful enough to wound again, live (invisible) wires shooting out of the chakras. The yoga mat is a space for the mind as much as it is for feet and hands to grip the earth during the asanas. As the body learns to let go of its long-ingrained holding patterns and rigid postures, folded within the tight muscles are little pieces of hurt, anger, frustration, embarrassment, fear, and anxiety. That is why we’re so loose as young children, we have no emotional attachments except for love, and that is all we need to be happy. On the yoga mat we learn how to take moments of meditation throughout the day, gaining an innate sense of what is right and wrong and what is possible at this point in time.
I know it might sound ridiculous, but think about it. Muscle tightness is one factor in the struggle to touch the toes to the head in scorpion, but the emotional bracing which forbids this movement is the key to unlocking the full expression of the pose. I think this is one reason people have a hard time sticking with yoga classes, or choose other more forms of active purely cardiovascular forms of exercise. Sure, yoga as exercise is part of the reason I do it, but I never would have stuck with it this long if it didn’t also stretch my mind, my heart, and my spirit.
Today I stewed over a few relationships and situations, berating myself for spending time even thinking about it. But then, sometime while I was at the beach with my family, all those urgent feelings of hurt and anger dissipated with a puff. They were uncovered during my practice, and then released into the hot salty sea air–the perfect place for such emotions to simmer away. I breathed love into places of my heart that had been overtaken by negativity. I’ll sleep without trouble tonight now that I have let go of some anger and confusion no longer bound within my hips.
I’ve tried not to preach my morals, but I have been giving a lot of thought to my vegetarianism, (excuse me: pescetarianism), of late, because I decided to raise my son as one.
Side note: I apologize deeply in conflating the two terms, which are obviously very different. I will address this soon, but I have to explain a few other things first.
I choose not to eat land animals for many reasons. It started off because I did not like the taste. I’d bitten into too many chewy tendons and inedible globules of adipose tissue to be able to look at my plates with a healthy attitude. Meal times were filled with fear, seeming to radiate the negative energy that went into putting the food on my plate. Just for a second, imagine you’re a hen. You cluck around the yard, peck at grains, lay some eggs, cluck some more. Maybe you have chicken thoughts of providing a nice life for your offspring, maybe you just cluck. You definitely feel pain though. A chicken is not going to willingly let its head get cut off. Think about how scary it must be for a simple little farm yard animal to get plucked up by its legs and flung around into tiny cages, eventually getting its neck cut off. Now, I am sure there is some science out there that can claim that chickens and hens and ducks are all killed in very peaceful and humane ways, that they didn’t feel pain. Those are undoubtedly rare cases, if they even work. I believe that the moment before a chicken dies he is horrified, the passage from life cannot be painless–or at least, fear-free.
Think about the last time you were scared. I can remember easily–a loud bang from downstairs that terrified me. I knew no one else was home, and my body tensed with nervous adrenaline and blood cooling fear. This was passive though, only sligtly akin to what that baby cow, or mother goose, has in its body when its life leaves. She yields her physical body for our nutrition. No thanks. I’d rather go hungry than have that poison energy as fuel for my body.
Ahimsa, a yogic doctrine of this idea, encourages you to stay away from “tamasic” food–mushrooms, for example, because they’re grown in darkness; blue cheeses, which are really molds and putridity. Of course, I love mushrooms (did you know you can put them in the sun to absorb vitamin D?), and cheese features prominently in my diet. But if you think about it, and really believe in a life force, it is a rational argument and makes even more sense when you apply it to flesh.
So that brings me to my side note from the beginning. I feel lucky that I’m now able to fully enjoy my meals and food, because it helps me to appreciate life. I pinpointed the aspects that were causing me anxiety, and now thrive on a highly vegetarian, often raw and vegan, and undoubtedly nutritious and wholesome diet.
However, I do eat fish, and the reasons are twofold:
- Though I feel sorry for the sea animals I eat if I consciously think about it, they are far enough removed from me as a mammal to give me the justification to eat them. They don’t breathe air or walk on the earth, mollusks don’t live in family groups or nurse their young.
- It is 100% easier and more enjoyable to go out to dinner if I have half the menu to choose from, instead of just one or two options.
I know these may be poor reasons, but that is my truth.
Eating fish (and eggs, and cheese) is one very small sacrifice I make to keep my marriage happy. I would never ask my husband to be a vegetarian, just like he would never ask me to eat a steak. I’m happy to enjoy a plate of mussels or calamari on a date, we eat grains, and beans, and a lot of meals at home with our own protein additions. I make my husband turkey sandwiches, buy his hamburger at the grocery store; he brings home new micro greens from his vendors, and has taught me how to cook perfect lentils. I enjoy telling people that my husband is a hard core meat lover, I feel like it humanizes what many view as a foreign and nonsensical diet.
Primum non nocere. Ahimsa. The Categorical Imperative. Treat others how you want to be treated. Love thy neighbor. All these terms and phrases get at the heart of one of my favorite maxims. Who can justify an action that does not bring good should everyone choose to act the same? Now is the time when I could on one hand spout off all the ecological goodness that it would do the planet if everyone ate broccoli instead of hamburgers, and on the other cite articles that warn us against eating rice. I’m not suggesting everyone should do what I do. I just like to draw attention to the possibility of latent energy inside things.
True story: one night many years ago, my husband offered to cook me a grilled cheese sandwich after a long day. Maybe he didn’t really want to and was just being nice, or maybe we got in an argument part way through, but when I went to eat it, I couldn’t. It was inedible. The cheese tasted like putrid plastic, and I nibbled around the corners for a minute until I threw it out. The yogis will tell you that the mental state and emotions of the cook go into the food that is being prepared. At the ashram I lived at, whenever we worked in the kitchen we sang bright chants and everyone was smiling. No wonder the food tasted beautiful. Like when the full cow wants to be milked, and when apples fall naturally from the tree, there is a goodness in eating food that is abundant naturally and peacefully.
- Coming home, feeling sick, and realizing it will be at least 2 hours until I can curl up in bed
- No comforting rhythmic breath beside me while I fall asleep at 3am
- Morning runs have been put on hold
- No one to make me fresh chocolate chip cookies, then serve them to me in bed with a cup of tea
- Taking out the trash is always my responsibility
- I have no one to blame for leaving dishes in the sink
- My sounding board, comforting presence, personal masseur, chauffeur, and the love of my life are all almost 1000 miles away
- You can’t smell via face time
- I walk out the door each morning not entirely sure if I’m covered in dog and infant detritus or not
- I have to take my car in to the shop to diagnose the weird humming
- I feel really guilty getting a babysitter so I can just have an hour to myself when I’m not sleeping or working
- Its a little weird writing yourself love notes to put in your lunch
- I’m terrible at cooking one of my favorite foods, salmon
- No one gives me a hard time for eating pizza 5 nights in a row (only bad for my healthy side, however)
- I have no idea if the Celtics have won or not when I go to bed
- There is no one to steal sips of coffee from
- I have to decide for myself if an outfit is work appropriate or not
- Hauling a load from BJs out of the car takes 3 weeks
- I have to remember to pay all the bills
- Its hard to hit the minimum amount for restaurant delivery
- The first adults I talk to for the day are usually either the Brazilian maintenance man in the building, or my co-workers
- Those horrible diapers (you know, the ones that make you wish you had 4 hands) set me back 30 minutes and two outfits
Are these superficial? At least they’re true. I spared my (two, three?) readers the lovey points I think in my head every other minute. I miss kisses, cuddles, and other thing too. But like the song says, a big yellow taxi came and went, and took away so much more than just the one I love.
It has been 24 weeks and 2 days since my last full night of deep sleep.
I don’t mind it, for the most part. Fatigue used to make us all very punchy, and I was frankly quite worried about how I would handle the transition from sleeplessness being a temporary condition to a permanent state. In days long past, at least we could comfort ourselves with the fact that the weekend was approaching. Or coming straight home from work and going right to bed. Luxurious rainy Sundays when we didn’t get dressed except to walk the dog and buy a newspaper. Sleep begat sleep. It was an addiction of sorts.
I’m so proud to report that our marriage is not suffering in the slightest, despite the varying degrees of sleep deprivation going on here. There have been a few harsh words, snaps to “turn off that light!” and “SHH,” but overall, its a battle we’re all fighting together. Our adversary is this little 17 pound boy, who hasn’t the slightest idea in the world the change he has brought. He lives in every moment as fully the Buddhas strive for, and truly does not think about anything except what is directly before him. Happy, hungry, sleepy, lonely, and lovey are, I believe, the extent of his experiences in the world. He is pure truth, and I wish responsible adult lives were permissive of this kind of lifestyle. But we have to worry about our things: the weather, the traffic, the dentist, the laundry, all the books we haven’t had time to read yet…
Before I digress much further, I want to write about my weekend reflections. Husband came with me on a very spontaneous trip to Maine. He was “happy to come” and I happily sat in the passenger seat as he drove. Much less than a year ago, I used to pout when I had to do the dishes, walk the dog in the rain, have to be the one to get out of bed to shut the light. I don’t complain about those things anymore, (there’s not time) because I grew up. I recognize that I’m the adult and there are simply activities in this world that must be done in order for life to roll on how we want it. I like a clean kitchen, so I respect the process of getting it to that state. I used to lecture my husband about proper produce storage and the necessity of stacking the good china separately from the everyday plates. Suddenly, 24 weeks and 2 days ago, all those stuffy details of life faded into the background noise where they belong. Or, maybe I’ve just been too tired to care. Either way, its working for us. We’re in it together, and we both know that neither of us needs to be stretched any thinner than we already are. So I ignore husband’s inability to line his shoes up by the door, and he drives me on last minute trips to visit my mother. Its this glorious unspoken agreement to make life easier in any way possible, and its working! Now if only we could communicate this to the baby…
I re-discovered Story People tonight. I know they’re banal and quaint in 2012, but I can’t help but adore them. Most every single one speaks to me in a way.
After [her] father died [s]he carried [her] life more gently & left an empty space for the birds & other creatures.
The empty space that I tried to fill with so many other things than what I was truly missing for so long. I sought it high and low, swatted at it without ever admitting to myself what it really was I was after. So it stayed just out of my reach. Close, but unless it was true, it was not a real salve.
“It” is love. Its always been love (or/and: understanding, compassion, friendship, allegiance, fidelity, esteem, veneration, idolatry) that I’ve been after. I’m sure I would have sought it whether or not my father died when I was little, but I probably wouldn’t have quested so urgently without knowing precisely what it was I was looking for. Looking back on my life now, I can CLEARLY see that it was human connection I was after, attempts at relationships, friendships formed over silly obsessions. I chased it around Europe for a few years, looked for it on the other side of the Atlantic around New England and other cities, and then the hunt closed in. To Maine. Finding my life partner was a lot easier than I ever imagined it was going to be. I used to believe there is one person out there for all of us, and we’re lucky if we ever find our mate on this planet so full of people. But, I realize the world is a design, and perfection comes in the way our lives unfold as it does when we stretch out an accordion. Maybe a confused jumble of angles, paper, and colors at the beginning–but, just as we gain insight into our lives, we realize the things we need the most are right before us.
Which is why I know my husband is my destiny. I used to feel funny because I didn’t “discover” him. He was a friend of a friend (I remember hearing about this sexy sushi chef many many years ago). We all ended up working together. I believe the friend of my friend met him just to bring him closer to me. We are each other’s destiny. We are love, and he has filled me up completely.