Where Fear Lives 2/1/18
We started the year my grandmother died. The school psychologist called called and asked if I’d teach a group of elementary teachers. I was so nervous that first day, packed room of complete strangers.
That Thursday yoga class held steady for 8 years. They squealed when I announced my pregnancy and made beautiful gifts. For a time we held class in the theater and the gym. Most steadily in the music room, with natural light, African drums, books, plants, xylophones and posters on the wall like: Listen and Silent are spelled with the same letters.
Students and gigs have been dropping away, beading off, clearing space for me to fill. It's like The Secret has an evil twin. I'm scared. Disoriented. The business I've cobbled together is disintegrating. I didn’t see this coming today.
Over the years in this particular class, some left when they had kids, several retired, the pool kept shrinking until today there were three. We always did down-regulating, breathing, therapy balls, restorative postures. Lots of lying down. Nurturing was easy and I liked to imagine I was part of a ripple effect, taking care of people who take care of little humans, venerable public school teachers: underpaid, under-celebrated, true heroes.
I came thinking we were starting a new session today but they’d gone around the whole school looking for takers and they didn't think it worth my time. It was an amazing run and I'm not supposed to take this personally, but I'm a gal with insecurities who grew up in a family built on sand, always shifting. My self-worth is delicate and abrupt endings don't sit well.
What now? The kind of fundamental groundlessness Buddhism talks about. The moments we’re seduced into thinking there’s security and stability are just blips on the screen of blackness. How do we cope with that, grabbing at the fog as if it will materialize into something we can actually hold? Hugging ghosts. And hungry ghosts. We sit. We stay. We try not to eat/watch/drink/think it away. I'm terrible at this.
I would sooner stab myself in the eye than say everything happens for a reason, but everything happens. And some stuff we can take and mush up like sculpting clay into something pretty while some is better flushed down the toilet. Some is for banners and fireworks and announcing over loud speakers. Everything happens; most excruciatingly out of our control, and we have an opportunity to work with it. We can make up reasons.
Still, in the now, I need money, I need work. And I can help people I think. Is it going to be ok? I’m going to publish. Writing is my raft you know. But now? Floating. Not knowing.
Is there anything more uncomfortable than not knowing? When I first started dating Chris ten years ago there were long pauses with no clear response after I put myself out there. Once I dropped off candy and flowers at his door and didn’t hear back until I called and asked. I’d picked out orange gerber daisies because I knew it was his favorite color. I told him I loved him months into dating and he waited a long time before saying it back. I was writhing inside, deeply confused. No footholds. It’s a spiritual practice, I told myself. Non-attachment. Then pregnancy? Forget it. You’re worried every week that goes by, and postpartum is one long delirious not-knowing after another, mixed up with unparalleled levels of love. Non-attachment, squared.
There is perennially something to be afraid of alongside that for which to be grateful and they may cancel each other out. They may hold hands in the dark. We do have to listen to our passion and hang on; from time to time, some extra rock is chiseled away.
We can find where fear lives and bring it some soup. It’s huddled in the dark and could use some company.
Also? We can twirl around with gratitude until we’re so dizzy we fall down. The ground is good.