Dancing in the rain

It was tomorrow already and the rains had not come. They had chided her for wanting this house, more like a niche, all the way at the end of the alley at the lowest part of the city. The cobblestones directed the water this way, all of it, every last trip and drop. And then it ran, tumbling, gurgling, into the tiny alleyway beside her abode, rushing out to the sea which was the border of not only this city, but this state, this country. It might as well have been the border of the world for all she cared because she had no plans to venture out beyond it. Here is where she had been born and here was where she would die. There was no melancholy in it, no pathos. This was her fate and she was happy to accept it.

It hasn’t always been this way. The usual fits and starts occupied her in her youth, all that you would expect from a child. All of her classmates had wanderlust or itchy feet. All wanted to backpack in some foreign country on their summer breaks or find a way to get a spouse, get a job, get out of this fortress that was their home.

She had followed along, assumed that she was supposed to feel disappointed in her hometown, was supposed to want to leave as fast as possible, but that was what everyone else felt. It wasn’t really about her. It was all about them and what they felt.

It took a lot of her years and a little bit of therapy to understand the difference between her own feelings and those of everyone else. Perhaps she had enmeshed with the world because of her needy parents who had pushed their own anxieties and fears upon her while minimizing her own. Any pain she mentioned was overridden by their own hurts, both physical and psychological. They would tell stories of how it had been worse for them, making her pain small in comparison. And then they would tell her how they’d overcome it – always with a pill. Sometimes it was an aspirin, and sometimes a Xanax. Always legal, but never useful. It was a stroke of luck that pills never helped her or she would have become an addict like them. Every pill they offered her had a double effect, so much so that she started halving them on the sly. Then she just stopped taking them all together.

Which she really needed was love. Empathy would have healed her more than the “medicine” they offered. Meaningful connection, listening, anything other than what she had been given would have helped. It was a violence to her soul for them to say through their actions that her pain was meaningless, and to not teach her ways to heal that didn’t involve pills. But then again, you have to know better to do better. They were all dead now, or just dead to her. They would never learn from her hard-fought lessons.

So now she listened to her inner voice, the voice of her true Parent, the One who had created her and sustained her and brought her to this moment. Once she had started listening for that voice things had gotten a lot simpler.

Not necessarily better, mind you. Her parents hadn’t understood why she had quit college just a month into her sophomore year. Her mother had told her to ride it out, but her father – he understood. He too had been in that same situation decades earlier. Yet he had not been treated fairly or kindly then. In that moment, he knew he had a choice to treat his child now the way he wished he had been treated then.

Her brother had been the most unreasonable, telling her she caused shame to the family name. Meanwhile he was on marriage number three and had been discharged early from the military due to insubordination. But he, like their mother, had never been to college, so they didn’t know how alien it was, how foreign, how impossibly not human and artificial. It wasn’t for sensitive people, those who felt everything, all the time.

So now, all these years later, she was living in a tiny room with just a few possessions and finally she was content. She didn’t need anything, and when well-meaning folks tried to give her more books or craft supplies or ideas, she politely but firmly refused and directed them to donate it to a local charity or take care of it themselves. She didn’t need their ideas for her stories. She had plenty of her own.

But the rain still needed to come. You see, she had chosen this home because of the water. She loved the sound of it. She loved to dance in the rain. It healed her. But the townspeople didn’t understand an adult frolicking in a rainstorm, so she did it in private. This house with its little alleyway provided just that.

Poem- What is Your name?

What is Your name?
Not the name of Your disease
not the name others have called You.

Your name that is
Special and star-like
Blessed and beautiful,
Your name
for You alone?

It might have been a long time
since You have heard it.
It might have been never.

The names others have given You
might not be true
might not fit
in the same way that
hand me down clothes

In the same way that
sometimes You have to
make Your own clothes
to have something
that fits
sometimes You have to
Your name.

You might not be the name
You were given at birth.

You might not be
mother, brother,
day labor, CEO,
friend, failure
gambler, penny pincher
mentally ill, stable
ex con, confidante.

The names that stick to You
(or are stuck on You)
out of relationship
or habit
or job
or history
or health
might be a part of Your name
or Your name might be
Entirely apart
from them.

What is Your name
Your true name
deep inside Your heart
small and bright and solid
And beautiful?
like the stars
like the sea.

The vastness of forever is inside you.

Find Your name
And You find Yourself
or for
the first time.

Yoga out in the wild

If you want to get some strange looks, do tree pose in the middle of the hardware section of Lowe’s.

It isn’t like I was doing warrior three or pigeon. I’d chosen a pose that was fairly normal, something that is recognizable as a yoga pose. Sure, it isn’t a normal place to do it, but it is a normal yoga pose. People who don’t do yoga would know it was a yoga pose.

I’ve not been able to practice yoga properly in a while because I’ve sprained my wrist. I’m having to rethink everything. I don’t know a lot of poses, so not being able to use my hands has cut down my already small repertoire to very little.

Plus, I’m kind of bored with yoga.

I’ve noticed I’m making less and less time for it. I’ve noticed that I don’t look forward to it. The weekly class isn’t a challenge anymore. The music and the moves are the same. Even animals in a zoo get different activities every now and then to keep their interest.

Sometimes I think that I’m using all of this as an excuse to not do something I know to be good for me. But then sometimes I think that maybe there is more to yoga than the poses, and I’m tuning into that. Why keep practicing something when you’ve learned the lesson?

Now, sure, I need to stretch. Every body needs to move. And balancing poses are good not only for the body but the mind.

So there I was, doing tree pose in Lowe’s. We’d already looked at a stove and some cabinet handles. Things need to get replaced every now and then in older houses. My husband had gone off to look for something else and left me with the cart. I was getting bored and had already checked Facebook and my email. In all reality I wanted a nap but I knew I couldn’t get away with that.

I’d pulled the cart out of the smaller aisle to not be in the way. I decided to take my coat and hat off because I was getting hot and that was contributing to my lethargy. I was alternating between wanting to be ignored and wanting to stick out. This is a fairly normal space for me to be.

I was standing behind the cart to not be too obvious. I had my hands in prayer position. If I’d wanted to really not stick out I could have left them down. Or I could have done mountain pose or forward fold.

I even announced what I was doing, quietly, but I said it, so perhaps it wouldn’t seem so strange. No luck there. The clerk in the window replacement section sort of glared at me and shook his head. He had a glum expression on his face the whole time anyway, so maybe he’s just somebody who can’t handle individual expression. I can tell he represses himself a lot. He’s faking being something he’s not, and it makes him stiff.

Maybe that was the reason I did that pose right there and then. Maybe of all people, he needed to see someone being different.

Who am I kidding? It was fun to be weird. It was fun to be childlike. I did it for me first. If someone else got a benefit out of it, cool.

I think I’ll do it again. Some of my favorite pictures in yoga magazines are when people do their poses out in the real world and not on a mat. I love it when they match their pose to whatever structure is around them. Now I’m going to go on a quest to find places that fit the poses. Then I’ll have to convince my husband to not only not laugh at me, but to also take a picture so I can share it.

One size

I think we have lost something with not making our own clothes. We have tried to fit ourselves into a certain mold that isn’t us.

There is no such thing as one size fits all. Sure, one thing covers all, but it sure doesn’t fit.

Premade clothes don’t fit our style in any meaningful way. We are all different and special. We are all one of a kind. Our clothes are extensions of our personalities and show the world something of who we are. How can we possibly express our uniqueness by picking something off the rack at Walmart? Why does Target get to tell me what I want to wear?

Then there is the idea of actual fit. We all have different shapes. Some are taller, some are rounder, some have bumps in different places. It isn’t wrong, just different. When we try to put our unique shape into something off the rack, we are guaranteed to feel that we don’t measure up.

This is a lie. We don’t need to measure up to a generic standard. We aren’t generic. We are each different and that is perfect.

So realize that if the clothes don’t fit, it isn’t your fault.

Lessons from kindergarten – you can’t do your own thing.

Here’s another reflection from kindergarten. Part of why it is so hard is that you can’t do your own thing. Well, you can, within limits. You can pick what color you want use, but you have to hold the crayon in your hand and you have to draw what you are assigned to draw. You can write whatever words you want, but they have to be about the topic that is assigned.

It is about learning to be in community. It is about learning to dampen down your individuality. Sure, you are still you. Sure, you might figure out how to be an individual within the confines of the assignment. But you can’t do your own thing all the time anymore.

This is really hard if you are an only child or if you have doting parents. You think that the world revolves around you. You think that you are special. And yes, you are special. But so is everybody else.

Part of being in kindergarten is that there are a lot of other people there. Sometimes there are over 20 other kids who are also trying to learn the alphabet and count to 100. A good teacher makes these tasks seem like games, but they aren’t. They are deadly serious things. If you can’t read and write, you are doomed. If you can’t use numbers, you are in big trouble. You can fake it for quite a while, but after that if you can’t do these basic things you are sorely limited as to what kinds of jobs you can get. Because of that, you are limited to where you can live because you can’t afford good housing. Because of that it will affect the kind of school your child will go to. If you can’t master reading and numbers your whole life is affected. School is the key that unlocks a lot of doors.

Another part of being in kindergarten is that you have to learn how to get along with others. Remember how you are special, and so is everybody else? A lot of kindergarten is behavior modification. You have to learn how to sit still so that everybody can see and hear the teacher. You have to learn to keep your hands to yourself. You have to learn how to share. If you are a child who is used to having her own way all the time or bossing around younger siblings then this is going to be a hard time with a lot of adjustments.

Some lessons are harder to learn because they aren’t spelled out.

Some children take toys from each other. Some children hit each other. Some cut line. Some say mean things. There are a lot of adults who do these things too. I have a suspicion that if they learned better as five year olds they would do better as fifty year olds.

I’m all for individuality. I think it is important to be the person that God made you to be. But I think it is also important to learn how to fit into society. I’ve read that in Japanese culture there is no word for “privacy”. It just isn’t a concept that exists. I’ve heard that part of that is because there are so many people living in such a small area that privacy just can’t happen. It is essential that everybody conform to a social standard. We aren’t as crowded here in America, but we certainly aren’t spread out either. In the “wild west” times people were much more spread out and there was much more individuality. People took the law into their own hands. When more people move into an area, that just doesn’t work out and it is time to establish some sort of authority. People had to learn to let the sheriff handle disputes rather than do it themselves.

Going to school teaches you to submit to authority, to a teacher, to rules. It teaches you how to not disturb others. You might learn language, math, history, and science too.

It doesn’t teach you how to be yourself, but be honest – nobody can teach you how to be yourself. Only you can figure that out.