Joy comes out of physically unleashing what is blocked. Toni Bergins
I found myself a little jealous when Pia announced that her husband and his cohorts had taken the day off, followed the wind south to the town of Escanaba and Lake Michigan for a spacious day of mid-October flying-through-the-air-with-a-wild-spirit-kite-surfing. It was a gift morning, mild and sunny and sweet, last Wednesday – the meteorologists had forecasted a week of cold rain and somehow the gods had smiled down at us and brought us a mid-week reprieve. So, as we started our waking-up session of yoga, as I breathed into my day that was scheduled to the max, my mind kept wandering south, kept wondering what it would be like to claim any hours for something as exciting as kite-surfing.
It wasn’t just the act of flying out over the lake that poked at my jealousy gene; it was a day that was unstructured, a Ferris Bueller Day Off Type of Day that was coloring me green with a case of envy. And, thank goodness for yoga, the way that it always calls me back to the moment and my body and to a place inside that feels good. “Helen, what are you complaining about?!?” my mind asked me as we twisted and stretched and breathed deep belly-expanding breaths. “The window is open and the breeze is blowing in and it’s a warm life-sustaining breeze and the sun is shining and Krishna Das is singing from the CD player his joyful chants and you are alive, and, if you pay attention, while you stretch your hamstrings and strengthen your core, you will sense it, that you are flying, too.” And it worked! I could feel my enthusiasm building; as I lifted my torso off the ground into a backbend in Bridge Pose, as I pressed my heart and my solar plexus toward the sky, as I peered out at the others with their hearts pressed to the sky as well, I could feel it, that rush of energy, that whoosh of wind blowing through. And, I used the metaphor often that morning, inviting us all to go through our day with the enthusiasm of a kite-surfer, with the ease of someone with all the time in the world.
And the feeling stayed with me on that mild filled-with-activity Wednesday. As I surfed from one to-do to the next, I felt a lightness, an inner giggle, as though it wasn’t work at all. And, it was in this mood, that I checked my e-mails, and my inner giggle became an outer laugh. My daughter-in-law, Shelly, had sent a photo of Viren, freshly taken that same morning. And Viren, at three and a half months old, certainly isn’t capable of kite-surfing, not yet, anyway. But does that stop him from trying?!? Does that stop him from flying?!? No way! He is appreciative of any movement forward, ecstatic that he’s upright, ready to take off in his bouncy chair. And no one can tell him that he’s not flying, that this isn’t as wild a joy as kite-surfing. One look at his face and we know it. And if Viren can do it, find joy, kite-surfing joy, in his moment in a bouncy chair, so can his Grandma Helen. And I brought that photo of Viren over to Joy Center that evening for a three and a half hour writing retreat. I propped it up for all to see and I shared my aha! of the day, that any activity, when we release resistance, has the capacity to feel that good, Viren-bouncy-seat-good, kite-surfing-over-the-lake-good. And nestled in a chair, in a room with fellow writers, I wrote my heart out. It didn’t matter what it looked like on the outside. On the inside, I had found my bounce and I felt myself flying.
(Viren poem written on Wednesday, October 18, at Joy Center’s Finding Your Way Home Retreat in a short timed writing.)
It’s Viren who brings me to me knees
When I’m offering him a bottle and he’s latching on to it
and he’s sucking with all his might,
sucking mother from the bottle
of his mother’s milk,
He’s not saying
Grandma, you’re not my mother
Grandma, this picture is not right
Grandma, thank you
Grandma, I’m looking into your eyes
I’m looking into your eyes and I’m pulling
out the best of you, the you that you want to be
the you that feels your own Grandma breasts swell
with all this love.
Viren is like that,
he knows how to draw out the mother’s milk,
the grandmother’s love
He knows how to pull the singer
out of the tone-deaf grandma
I don’t care, he says
Sing to me in whatever tone you like
I love your singing, he says
I love your stories, he says
I’ll look into your eyes forever, he says
and I’ll help you forget that you ever
found it hard to love.