I’ve never been much of a “zen” person. You know those people, those PEOPLE you see that seem to walk through life as if a light, cool breeze is pushing them? Yah, that’s not me. Not only that, those people piss me the hell off. Always have, always will. So I can’t entirely blame my lack of zen on the fact that I became ill, but I think it might have a bit to do with it.
The thing is, I don’t think I was ever a truly calm person, because I think a little part of me always knew this would happen. A zen person, I was not, but what I definitely was was someone who did stop in those small moments..those moments when I was a young teenager running on the beach with my friends, and I swear I knew. I stopped. And I would drive everyone crazy because I would say, “you guys, look at the sun!”, in particular noticing the pinkness of the sky below the orange sun. I’d watch the orange parts mix in with the pink, and for moment I wondered who was chasing who..the sun or the sky? There is something about an endless ocean and a pink sky that for a moment makes you think to yourself ‘I might never see this again. And I am lucky that I did.’ I was lucky. I still feel lucky. And even when I do see a pink sky again, it always feels like it will be the last time..and there is something special about that. Cut to: “Yes Laura, now catch this baseball”, being the response from my friends. But I knew to stop and watch it. And I don’t know how I knew. But I remember one time stopping..a particular moment where Stephanie layed down next to me on the beach..she put her towel down next to mine, and sprayed her hair with this concoction that she always used to make her hair wavy..and I remember wanting to remember that smell, and watching her scrunch her hair and flop it around with such grace, and she looked down at me like I was some psychopath watching her..and my eyes filled with tears..I remember this because I asked myself why I felt like crying..and I just said to her “I love this day”. She stopped, and the cynical part of her smile left..her mouth curved differently..into this smile I had never seen before..and she agreed. That was our moment. And I won’t forget it. I am not mad at her for leaving. I know that at that young age no one could understand. And I carry those moments with me as my memory of her. She has her life now, and she is okay, and I am not mad..I am glad we had that time together. But she is a piece, one piece of the many pieces of my old life that I mourn. And I believe I always will.
What got me on this zen rant? Ironically, my attempt at yoga today. Apparently, it’s supposed to be good for you. Supposed to help you find your breath. Or something like that. Well in those moments..when everyone is lying on their mat..and the instructor is using a soft, guiding voice to help you steady and slow your breath..my heart is racing, and my eyes are open, and I feel like I’m choking. I cannot find my steady breath anymore. Granted, I don’t know if I ever had one, but I certainly cannot find it now. I cannot let myself breath deeply, because then I want to cry. And then I will be the person crying during yoga. I am already the person crying in class, and in Starbucks, and in the pharmacy when I hear old men singing..I cannot be the person crying in yoga. But yep, I was. I layed there and as I tried to breathe, I thought of those moments when I wake up in the middle of the night in so much pain I want to scream..and well, I wanted to scream. I didn’t want to breath, I wanted to freaking scream. I wanted to scream for all of the pain, all of the moments I tried and couldn’t do it, for the moments I couldn’t squeeze my shampoo bottle, or make it down the stairs to do laundry. For all of the people who came and went, all of the classes I had to leave, the children I had to say goodbye to at work, the moments where I forget what it’s like to put two feet on the ground with ease. And the warm tears rushed down my face, and I wiped them away, brushing my face as if I was deep in the zen moment, but I wasn’t in this moment, I was in a moment that happened already. And that’s when I thought to myself..STOP. Stop being in a moment that already happened! That moment had its time in your life. It already took up the amount of time it did. Do not let it own this time, this time that is yours, in this moment. You are here, on this mat. And sure, the stretches that others seem to glide into make you feel like someone is blowing a balloon inside your bones, but you are here doing it. And maybe if you don’t make that grimicing face, no one will know. So I will try to move like everyone else. And if I make a mistake, it will make me human. And isn’t that what I’m trying to be? Human. I am being what I’ve always wanted..just like everyone else. Someone who makes mistakes, and cannot do that yoga pose perfectly. Because as I look around..other people are laughing, and trying to gain their balance, and I am too..and in this moment, we are the same. And that is all I have ever wanted to be, the same as everyone else. So, did I just get what I’ve been hoping for?
Maybe that is what off of this is about. Getting what you are hoping for, but not realizing it. And maybe, if anything, this ridiculous monster inside me made me see those moments..those moments, like that afternoon on the beach, where you were given a minute of what you’ve been waiting for..and this time, I was there to breathe it in. And finally, I could breathe.
No, not a deep breath like the yogi’s all around me. But a breath all the same. A breath that was mine. A breath I could not have taken a few weeks ago. Progress. Isn’t that, and a moment like this one, all we can ever ask for?