“To make an end is to make a beginning.” – TS Eliot
It is Saturday, so my husband Nick stays home with the boys while I go to yoga class. After twisting and leaning and holding my body through poses, we finally lay down for Shavasana and I try to relax. I’m grateful for class to end, and proud of the work my body has done, yet still anxious to get up and out of the room. With my mind’s awareness of the time and our imminent dismissal, I have to concentrate that much harder to stay.
At the beginning of class, we set our intention – love, compassion, forgiveness, healing… anything we want to welcome in to our day and our consciousness. This morning I had taken a different approach – rather than allowing with an open heart and palm, I clenched my fist and pleaded directly with God. I banged incessantly on his door like a frustrated child, and asked for a clear sign – something obvious and tangible, like maybe a letter that fell out of the sky, landed in my lap, and laid out a perfectly designed plan for how to proceed. I didn’t want to twist my body during yoga anymore and wait for clarity. I didn’t want to search for elusive signs through mediation or journaling. I just wanted to be shown the answer and told what to do.
God, just tell me, and I’ll do what you say. I’m here, and I’m ready. Tell me, dammit! (yes, I swore at God)
I moved to Chicago after college in order to attend Graduate School. To others, this seemed like a worthy progression, but to me, it was more of a way to delay entering my actual life. A resistance, and a shielding. Choosing a career was like being asked to pick a favorite song or a favorite food, but with more at stake. I loved music and I loved food, so declaring my favorite and saying it out loud always felt like I was giving up on all the other options – and why should I have to choose? On the surface, it was easy to put the pieces together and follow the logical path to graduate school – fill out the application, find an apartment, get a job. The steps flowed easily for me. And within a very short period of time, I had a monthly stipend from the University and a short commute to campus from my tiny apartment that I shared with a friend. But I was still so confused. Walking to the train one morning, I said a prayer. Was this the right thing? Had I arrived at the intended place?
Maybe wind blew through my hair. Maybe I tripped on a stray pebble on the sidewalk. But something spoke to me – this isn’t a life sentence. I hadn’t signed a contract giving my soul away or declaring this to be the final decision I ever make. This is only something that is happening right now. And the right now is always perfect.
Now restless in Shavasana, I went back to my intention from the beginning – what’s the answer? I suspected there was another woman. But searching for proof while my husband was away on business trips had turned up no evidence. Maybe it was me – maybe I was crazy.
My yoga practice provided space to get out of my mind and onto my mat – the only place that seemed really real. I could trust my body in the pose. I could accept my own inhale and exhale as I bent forward and back into downward facing dog. I felt strength in my arms and my abdomen as I pushed in and out of plank and dolphin.
The right now is perfect. Obsessively digging through drawers that weren’t mine, opening shoeboxes and analyzing receipts – this behavior brought a burning to the back of my neck, and a feeling of groundlessness. Like at any moment, my whole world could change. And maybe I wasn’t ready.
Lying still on my mat, I felt the people and the room around me. I heard the birds playing in the trees outside the window and the clinking of the furnace turning on. The woman next to me coughed. And I mindlessly brought my hand to my face in order to itch my eye. Quickly, I put my arm down and pulled myself back inside. I focused on my forehead. I saw the purple-ish glow and my eyelids began to flutter. The teacher walked through the room, bending to touch each student’s temple with oil. I smelled tangerine and basil, both sweet and bright compared to the earthy sage burning on the windowsill.
I got in the car after class, tossed my mat on the passenger seat, and started sobbing over the steering wheel. “I AM” kept repeating through my head during Shavasana, but I didn’t know what it meant. Despite my urgings for the Universe to give me a sign, I felt alone and still closed off from my own intuition.
I wouldn’t discover the proof I needed to walk away until 6 months later. The moment felt as horrible and collapsing as I had imagined. Reading her love letters to my husband, all of my ideas and plans for our future vanished into thin air. The room went black and silent, and again, I was forced to exist only in the present moment. I AM.
I AM – sometimes, and maybe most importantly, I AM is all we can be. I am safe. I am whole. Ok God, you have my attention – and I am listening.