Last Tuesday was my first official day off that I intentionally gave myself to be “curious.” I had great expectations that all came up short and in the end it was a miserable day of distraction mixed with longing. I feared that I had given up my joy of routinely going in to teach yoga and practicing or taking a class. That standard day that I had grooved into my fiber of being for the last decade was now gone–what am I to do? I spent much of my time out on the rim of the mythological Wheel of Fortune finding nothing but distraction and the consequences of distraction–which according to Yoga Sutras are: pain, sadness, unsteadiness and irregular breathing. Let’s just say that it wasn’t the most blissful day. After some quiet reflection and a good conversation with a kind and wise gentleman named “my husband” I found a good clear truth. It is best quoted by Joseph Campbell’s in the book, The Power of Myth.
“In the Middle Ages, a favorite image that occurs in many, many contexts is the wheel of fortune. There’s the hub of the wheel, and there is the revolving rim of the wheel. For example, if you are attached to the rim of the wheel of fortune, you will be either above going down or at the bottom coming up. But if you are at the hub, you are in the same place all the time.”
The hub. The center of myself. This is where I needed to start and return to over and over again no matter how many times the rim pulls at me.
It’s now Tuesday–a week later. I woke up and sat quietly drinking coffee, watching the sunrise and becoming more curious about my center. I was tending to the hub like a gardner to her soil…wondering what seeds of intention I could plant today or how to nourish the soul of me, the whole of me today. It didn’t take long for the spokes of my life (let’s call them my four children) pulled me out of that blissful morning meditation and out into the mad world of speed, information and shopping–yes, my son had to buy some marshmallows at Safeway for a science project. I stayed calm and determined to position myself from a hub perspective. I affirmed that I am a “householder yogi” as Iyengar writes in his book, The Tree of Yoga. It’s a time to integrate the yogic teachings and to be “among the world” and not above or two feet to the side of my duties as householder. After I dropped the kids off at school I felt a bubbling up inside that prompted me to make a clear decision to listen to the beckoning of my hub, my center.
It didn’t take long to know what to do next. I drove down to Pleasant Beach and purchased a homemade granola bar for sustenance for my journey. I left anything that started with a lowercase i in the car. I walked around the rim of the south of the Island and marveled at the changing colors, shimmering water, bright white boats and the distant fog across the passage of water. When I reached Point White dock I dared myself to walk down to the end and jump in. Just the thought of the dare was enough to give me a moment of joy. Instead of jumping in I got on my hands and practiced handstands. This lead me to sun salutations and down dogs on a make shift yoga mat of graffiti planks made splintered wood. I peered down through the open slot and watched schools of fish zip side to side, float and dip. I envied the quietness in their “school.” Before I knew it I was on my back looking at the big blue sky. I felt both grateful and sorrowful. I felt a longing for my kids when they were toddlers. We would come to this very beach and throw rocks on a Tuesday morning. I felt grateful that my kids are able to access this beach as they grow up to remind them of who they are and how nature persistently calls us to participate in the conversation of who am I? Who am I becoming?
I left the dock and made my way up the long, steady hill. I ducked into the cluster of trees that pulled me in towards a quiet and peaceful trail. I decided to walk slowly looking for signs that remind me of who I am. I found mushrooms growing wildly just off the path. Wild, yes that is who I am.
Further down the trail spilled me into a big nature bowl dotted with tall wise trees, an unintended but welcoming forest garden. Sunlight pierced through the trees and made my white raincoat light up as if to sing, “You are surrounded by divine light.” Sacred, yes that is who I am.
Just as I came out of the forest bowl I rounded the bend and saw a silver headed and bearded man in hiking boots and khaki shorts down on his knees. I slowed my pace and felt a genuine, benevolent presence as I ambled closer. He looked up with bright blue twinkly eyes and said, “I’m foraging. I haven’t found anything yet but it may be too early.” I smiled and wanted to respond with “Me too! I am foraging for sustenance for my soul.”
Instead I said to him, “Good luck!”
Forager, yes this is who I am.
Today is just another Tuesday. But, today it feels different. Today I chose to stay closer to home, at the center of the wheel. This Tuesday with Jen reminded me of my bliss–of the parts of me that are wild, sacred and continually searching for provisions for the soul.