I started writing this post last Friday. Before you get any further, let's just say, as of today, Monday at noon: I'm still waiting.
(That'll all make sense about a paragraph from now, trust.)
My cell phone bit the dust Wednesday evening and I've been living sans-pings and sans-alarm clock and sans-smart-phone-checking since. (Erm, that said, if I've inadvertently blown off your never-received texts and voicemails, don't take it personally.) FedEx is due to deliver my replacement phone via Next Day Delivery this afternoon.
Expected delivery: 3pm at latest.
Well, 3pm has come and gone. I drove down here to OMpower (the yoga studio where I had the phone company ship the new gadget, since I'm rarely home to receive packages), parked my car, and set up shop with my laptop on the front stoop. (The building's locked, as everyone's gone for the day, hence the waiting outside.)
It's the most radiant late-autumn day, and I'm sitting in the sun, working on my computer, getting stuff done, sans phone ringing, and my delivery is late, and it doesn't matter, because it's a Friday afternoon by the ballpark and it's sunny and warm and I have wireless and it's
Funny how one's automatic (habitual, culturally-conditioned) response is to freak out and/or get pissed about the delayed delivery and/or get mad at the phone for fucking breaking in the first place! It'd be super easy to sit here and bitch and moan and grow increasingly irritable at the inconvenience this waiting has meant for my day.
That's what most of us would do, right?
"FML! All over the place! FML! Poor me!"
But then the yoga mind-training kicks in, and you go: ohhhh, cool, I get it. There is some perfect lesson, some beloved teacher, some helpful friend hanging out right here in this very moment.
And you get some perspective.
You realize: I have a choice. I can choose to freak out and get pissy and impatient and still not be any closer to having a phone with which I can call my lovey and tell him hello and happy Friday and I miss you, or I can sit here and marvel at the fact that on a Friday afternoon rather than being stuck in some soulless antiseptic fluorescently-lit office, I am comfortably parked on my ass on a stoop in the sun wearing a tennis skirt and shades, and I have food to eat, and shelter over my head, and eyes that see, and a car that runs, and am not currently threatened by a Frankenstorm or a war in my backyard or gang violence in my home, and my life is pretty damn good.
It's just how you look at it.
Everything's that way, of course.
You can pooh-pooh that as Pollyanna thinking (been there, done that), or you just can realize that we always, always have a choice.
That's yoga, in a nutshell:
Choose to freak out and be a spaz and/or run away when things get challenging, or take a deep breath, chill out, and come back to a place of equilibrium, realizing that the furor you're experiencing is all a product of your own mind.
I think about this a lot when I witness brides planning weddings, or in the rare instance that I get sucked into a bad TLC wedding reality show and see the whole self-created-drama thing writ large on national television. [This is just one more reason that I've long been cautious about the idea of ever having one myself.] People FREAK OUT and hyperventilate and make themselves crazy and go on and on about how STRESSFUL it is to pick a dress and find a venue and decide whom to invite and how many forks there should be and OHMYGOD how can they get through LIFE with SO MUCH STRESS!!!!!?!?!?
And I sit back and watch and breathe and shake my head and think to myself: how lucky we are to be so affluent that we can get caught up in minor trifles like weddings and guest lists and canapes.
And I remind myself, in those moments: Rachel, choose.
Choose, girl. Choose to be aware of your privilege, of the ridiculous luxury that is being able to be stressed out in the first place. That luxury of psychoanalysis is one that only comes once one's basic survival needs are met. And how blessed we are, how lucky, indeed, to be able to "stress out" about things like broken smart phones and big white dresses and expensive fancy self-celebratory parties in honor of the fact that we've found someone else to love. Seriously!!!
We always have a choice. In every breath. What are you choosing?
Needless to say, no phone came last Friday — it was stuck in Memphis all weekend due to a delayed shipment. And you know what? It didn't matter. I didn't need it. I enjoyed a little unexpected quiet. And I got some sweet time sitting in the sun out of the deal.
And haven't dealt with a pinging phone in upwards of 5 days.
And watched the Giants sweep Detroit in the World Series.
And spent yesterday, sandwiched on either side of some sweaty goodness at Flying Yoga in the morning, hauling the contents of my apartment in SF to our new cottage up the coast.
Which feels like home.
And now I sit on a meditation cushion typing in an empty flat at the back of this old 1920s building in downtown San Francisco and listen to the echo of the keys in this shiningly barren room, on the most perfectly blue-skied West Coast afternoon, where we rest comfortably-not-at-all-in-the-path of a monstrous hurricane-slash-snowstorm named after Olivia Newton-John's character from Grease, and it's more than I could ask for.
All good, always, all ways.
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, in the early mornings and late nights as I drive. The mister found an old audio tape copy in storage as he was making room for my things, and though a dear friend had lent me that book years ago in the midst of a difficult time of my own, I'd never done more than thumb through it. So, even though this time in my life feels not at all like "things falling apart," rather, it feels strangely and beautifully like things are falling together, I was excited to listen to Pema's words as I drove through the fog this morning.
The more I learn from teachers like Pema Chodron, the more I am certain that this asana thing is just a vehicle for quieting the mind. And the more I am able to transfer that Zen spirit, that oh-so-rational and measured Buddhist mentality, into my practice, on and off the mat, and into my teaching, too, realizing, remembering, that a yoga-asana practice without an emphasis on mindfulness is really just gymnastics.
Read it. I wish I could give a copy to everyone I know. Pema's good not just for the difficult times, but for any time. As we know, and as the Buddhism and the yoga remind us, our lives are a constant ebb and flow of sweetness and struggle, so we can trust that even in the greatest and richest moments of joy and ease and certainty, there is always a little chaos around the corner. Blessed be this impermanence. It brings us into the present moment, and reminds us how very sacred and ephemeral this very breath, and the next, and the next, really are.