Gift of Adversity
"The sky. A window minus sill, frame, and panes. An aperture, nothing more, but wide open." ~ Wislawa Symborska
I sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are safe. It's been 8 months since my last newsletter, and those months have been full of turmoil in the world and in my life, as I envision in yours too. For me, they were uncomfortable months of confronting not only the enormous collective and personal stress, but also how I relate to stress. This year offered no shortage of triggers that exaggerated my tendency to spin out into a sea of worry, despair and irritation. Fortunately, there were also moments of remembering gratitude.
As so many things fell apart in this crazy, unexpected, unbelievable year for all of us (and, on a personal note, some distressing things to our house), the biggest lesson of the year for me was the profundity of impermanence, and also resilience. A poem came my way last week that began with the lines - "I should have begun with this: the sky. A window minus sill, frame, and panes. An aperture, nothing more, but wide open." Our minds are like that - a wide open aperture - except our tendency to put a frame around the moment and freeze-frame it.
Change is inherent in this realm of impermanence. The world has changed in ways unimaginable before this year. And we will continue to be challenged and triggered by what confronts and confuses us. But the challenges are also not insurmountable or permanent. For me, this has been the repeated lesson of this year - what seemed like an insurmountable difficulty at one point, is no longer so, albeit replaced by another. Recognizing this has been a gift of adversity that is slowly setting me free from the grip of my mental patterns. It's a work in progress, and tiny changes are occurring. And I no longer feel burdened to have everything put together (including our house) before I reconnect with you and re-engage in sharing the lessons of yoga.
And you... how are you? I hope you have been nourished by teachers and practices you love to maintain your equilibrium while I've been rebuilding mine. I'm sorry if I haven't responded to each of you personally. I was on an email hiatus for a while. I've missed these connections with you. I will offer some workshops and series-based courses on-line in the new year. See below for details of the first two. When conditions allow, we will be able to meet again, safely, in-person for workshops, courses, and retreats.
May 2021 bring healing and positive change to our world, our communities, and each of us individually. May kindness and wisdom prevail.
by Wislawa Symborska
I should have begun with this: the sky. A window minus sill, frame, and panes. An aperture, nothing more, but wide open. I don't have to wait for a starry night, I don't have to crane my neck to get a look at it. I've got the sky behind my back, at hand, and on my eyelids. The sky binds me tight and sweeps me off my feet.
Even the highest mountains are no closer to the sky than the deepest valleys. There's no more of it in one place than another. A mole is no less in seventh heaven than the owl spreading her wings. The object that falls in an abyss falls from sky to sky. Grainy, gritty, liquid, inflamed, or volatile patches of sky, specks of sky, gusts and heaps of sky. The sky is everywhere, even in the dark beneath your skin. I eat the sky, I excrete the sky. I'm a trap within a trap, an inhabited inhabitant, an embrace embraced, a question answering a question.
Division into sky and earth — it's not the proper way to contemplate this wholeness. It simply lets me go on living at a more exact address where I can be reached promptly if I'm sought. My identifying features are rapture and despair.