“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinions;
it is easy in solitude to live after your own;
but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd
keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I learned something in yoga today. Granted, I’m not exactly sure what it was, so perhaps learn-ed past tense is an inaccurate description. Let me start that sentence over. Yoga tried desperately to teach me something today that I haven’t quite figured out, yet. Emphasis on the yet.
I‘ve been feeling really pulled in different directions lately, like so many people want or need something from me, like I’m not exactly sure what they want but I am the one being asked to deliver. Personally. Professionally. Creatively. Many times over the last week I’ve wanted to go all preschooler on the world – stomp my feet, put my fingers in my ears and scream at the top of my lungs. Throw a temper tantrum. Or hide behind a tree.
I resisted the urge, tried to be pleasant. A urine soaked sheet slapped me across the face. Gross, but I tried to be positive and grateful my mouth was closed. I had to work all last weekend for a Very Important Inspection. Well, I thought, at least I had the weekend to prepare. See? Positive. Not running away. Staying with the discomfort and trying not to dwell in it. Many other things transpired this week, but these are the only examples I feel like sharing. It’s been a touchy sort of week. Emotionally sticky. Mentally draining.
So I decided to do a little hibernation. Pull back into myself. Get back to my core, my place of respite. And, above all, I decided to go to yoga class. Yoga is one of those things kicked to the back burner while I try to “accomplish” and “manage” so many other things in my life. But I need it. I crave it. I was excited for it and told my teacher as much when I rolled into the studio this afternoon.
I should have seen the lesson coming when my self-designated weekend of solitude landed me in the most packed class I’ve ever attended. Still, I managed to carve out a nice spot for myself right up close to the mirrors. Sometimes I set an intention before my practice and today it was: Focus on myself; don’t get distracted by the other students. You see, I brought the good energy.
Then a man who’s son I used to teach filled in on the row behind me. No problem, I thought. He’s a nice guy. No weird karma there. I’ll pretend I don’t know him for the duration of the class so I can really stay in this focused bubble. Om. Then I noticed the anorexic two mats over from him, exactly diagonal from me in the other direction. To look at her was painful, but I caught myself. You’re not going to be looking at her. You’re focusing on your practice, remember? Right. Om.
Class started. Relaxed. Deep breathing. I heard Shanna say “there are still spots, fill in,” and felt people set up next to me. Really close next to me. Not. A. Problem. Until the man fell into me. Twice. Then he started chastising his wife in Spanish and English, telling her she wasn’t doing the poses right. Um, hello jerk-off. I don’t really think you have room to talk the way you keep running into me and stepping on my mat. And what kind of a misogynist delinquent drags his wife to a class she repeatedly told him she didn’t want to attend and then tells her how badly she’s doing? Crap. I’m not focused again. Breathe. Om. This went on for a while. A long while. Let’s just say, skeleton-girl was the least of my worries. She could’ve had her heart attack and I wouldn’t have noticed.
See how awful I am? This is why I do yoga. My brain chatter is super-powerful. Even when I try to be open and loving and peaceful, I’m still saying really mean things in my head. On the flip side, that’s what I love about yoga. It hasn’t taken away the thoughts, but it’s made me more aware of them which is half the battle. Then I try to change the thoughts or at least decide whether I agree with them or not. Almost right away, I realized douche-bag and his wife presented me with a learning opportunity. I was being given a chance to go deep inside myself and block out distraction, find my solitude for reals, develop a strong inner resolve.
Then, he farted on me.
We were doing wide-leg forward bend and he just let it rip. Right. In. My. Face.
I wanted to be rescued. I admit it. This strong, powerful, independent woman wanted to be rescued from the hell that the yoga class had become. Or, at the very least, I didn’t want to have to come back out of this pose and swish through the fart-filled air again. I’ll just take Savasana from here, thanks, Shanna.
But I didn’t. I thanked the universe for my allergies which created a mild-barrier between myself and the odor. I told myself it would all be over, soon. I felt grateful I wasn’t this guy’s wife. Anything to make it better. And it did. A little. And even a little, counts.
The rest of my afternoon continued in the same ridiculous vein of The Universe Tries To Teach Amanda A Lesson. The “dad” talked to me for 30 minutes in the parking lot after class, asking my opinion on all sorts of work-related things. I went to the grocery store for a few items and ran into a bunch of people I know. We chatted. It was pleasant. My solitude bubble hid in the shadows, vowing never to come out again for fear it’ll just get popped. Again. And again. And again. And then someone will fart on it.
So I don’t know how this will end, but I will tell all of you that I’m going to persist in this search for solitude. My book is almost finished. It’s some of the most difficult work I’ve ever done and I realize I’m only about half-over. There is still a second draft to be hashed out, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it and after I take a break at the first draft’s completion. I’ll let you know when that happens. I’m sure I will celebrate in some fashion and appreciate the Congratulations.
But I need to be by myself right now, insomuch as that is possible. Which is, apparently, not so very much. This blog will slumber along with me and revive when I feel like posting and/or when I finish the book, whichever comes first.And I’ll keep you posted about what the lesson actually was of this week. I’d try a little harder to find it right now, but I’m tired. The big world is loud. It’s messy. And it farts a lot.
I‘m going to go read.