"Your life takes place where your feet are." I am in yoga class in an awkward position. My yoga instructor, Melissa, is gently reminding all of us to be present. She is reminding us that our feet can be the key to transforming our pose, and that awareness of our feet can be key to transforming our lives.
That is why I love yoga and this particular yoga teacher. I learn a lot. I mean, heavy shit goes down in that room, and not just the stuff that goes on within my head. Every day I go to yoga, I am transformed in some way. Sometimes it is immediate, but most often, I do not see its effects for months. These are the changes that happen quietly, and almost without notice.
When I take the time to step outside of myself, I see that I have become the very person that my younger self used to laugh at. I have become the mindfulness practicing, yoga-doing, free-love speaking, bike riding, plastic container recycling freak I used to laugh at in my twenties.
If my twenty year old self knew me, she would probably want to kick my ass, or at the very least, laugh mercilessly at me.. But when I think of her now, I am amazed. She made some very hard decisions way back when, decisions that basically threw her whole world out of whack, because she knew no other way to resurrect herself. If she had not made those choices; broken up with her high school sweetheart, moved to Portland and far away from her family, spent five months in Alaska, enrolled in a rigorous and life-changing art program, I would not be this person I have come to be so proud of. While she did not know enough to see me coming, she knew enough to make the choices that would bring me about. I look back and wonder how the fuck she did that.
I have no idea why she trusted herself. She had so little experience being trustworthy. She was so insecure, so afraid. But she went forth. Something drove her to do those things. She did not know what drove her, but she listened when her body screamed. She could feel the pull of her heart as it led her to different places in the world and in her life, and she followed. Most of the time.
So now, when I hear young men and women lament their lives, or hell, even older men and women, I think of my own anxieties and worries over where I would end up, what I feared might become of me. I think of how I sometimes still slip into that worried type of thinking, and I know. I know that if I am quiet, and I listen to my voice, if I stop long enough to feel the pull of my heart, I will not have to worry.
I also know that to a certain extent, I have to block the majority of the voices around me, out. I let the trusted ones in, of course, but most people, most messages, are not for me, and I have to remember that. I am not buying into the messages of what a woman has to be like, what an American has to be like, what a Jewish person has to be like. I don't let other people decide whether or not I am beautiful, sexy, or worthy, because it is not up to them, and even if in some small way, I measured favorably, it would not mean as much as it means when I am able to look back on my day and swell with the pride of a person who has followed her heart.
So yesterday evening, when I drew her lying on the floor, looking out at me, I knew. I was drawing my younger self. She came back to remind me. She came back to say in that adorable smart-ass way, "I fucking told you so." I knew when I had finished that I loved her, as I know I love who she has become. I am in awe of her strength, her beauty, and her ability to still, in the face of it all, be an incredible smart ass.
This is where my feet are now, and I know that wherever it is that I go, no matter who I meet, I will make sure to bring an awareness of my feet along with me, so that I am reminded to stand for me, and I am reminded that even though I have anxiety, even though my thoughts might betray me, my heart knows, and my feet will try to follow it.
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