Years ago, in my mid-twenties, I traveled by the seat of my pants. One job led naturally to another. One adventure transpired from the last without much forethought or planning. There was always just a leap. Many incredible experiences happened that way.
A college friend had connections in West Papua, the farthest eastern piece of Indonesia, squarely the middle of nowhere. I went, with a mind to create some kind of indigenous agricultural project. Of course, I couldn’t speak a lick of Indonesian, knew little of the cultural or political situation, and had been no further from the US of A than a short jaunt over the Canadian border one summer.
So I learned a lot. Fast. I came home when my visa was up, tired from a bout of malaria. I looked for grants to perpetuate some kind of work over there but it was not meant to be. Instead, a friend of a friend was impressed that I liked to travel to really far out places and connected me to a small organization doing incredible work in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China (long stories unto themselves there).
So that’s how things work out. I had to go to Papua in order to go to Tibet.
THEN – coming back to States after that extended work adventure, I hurt my back and had to re-think my plans. I booked a yoga retreat in Italy using what was left of my last paycheck. At that retreat I learned the yoga that really worked for my body, and felt the strong desire to share it. I also learned that I was less likely to keep up the good practice if I kept making wacky decisions, like taking the night train to Amsterdam. So, I came home.
This chain of activity, action, and re-action eventually led me to my Husband, this Fellow Man who has steadfastly shared life with me these past ten years. Whew! It was a whirlwind. I couldn’t always see where I was going beyond the next step, but it landed me right. Right where I belong.
Besides yoga practice, marriage and motherhood have rooted me. I am challenged in that rooting process sometimes. I needed to be pruned on top so that the roots could grow deep enough. But now my roots are deep and my branches are stretching again. It feels good.
I haven’t even mentioned the life of the farm here because it has been part of my paradigm for so long. No matter where I went, I was carrying or collecting some seeds to plant somewhere. When times felt uncertain, I imagined gardens and farms where I had worked, or hadn’t worked yet. I assumed that I would land on some land, one day.
I assumed correctly. The discipline of being with the farm, the garden, is a great and fulfilling challenge, but I knew what that looked like, having seen it in many diverse forms as I traveled and interned here and there. The proportions and heft of maintaining fun-ctional marriage partnership and being a loving and strong mother were much more mysterious to me. These ten years have worked me over from deep down, and it looks like a lifetime of learning to come, too.
However, I do feel my roots more solid now. I’m no longer a leaf blowing in the wind.
Now, the challenges are different. We decided to cut back our CSA efforts to only local, very local, customers. We’re putting our efforts back into bodywork and yoga, again, locally. We have leapt from where we were into unseen territory. When I was 25, on my own, it was just a great adventure. Now, it carries more weight.
The trick with weight is to balance it. Our heads are heavy, but as long as we use our given structure appropriately, we balance them on our neck and shoulders. Having this beautiful family responsibility, and creating a living within our local community is kind of like a strong one-leg balance. Check out this variation of Virabhadrasana (commonly referred to as Virabhadrasana III) – the Warrior Pose, taken into a strong balance.
This strengthens the legs, hips, and back and really challenges balance. (Please don’t try it without instruction unless you already know how.) It is not without risk.
That’s how I feel about most of life right now – gardening, parenting, teaching – as we dive into new ways of doing just about everything this season. It’s a supreme balance, but I’m more prepared than I ever before. The rooting process has made me more stable. Now I am able to extend my limbs, balanced from this strong base without being whisked away by the passing breeze.
Successful balance is extremely satisfying. It does a lot to focus and stabilize the mind. From that place of greater equilibrium, I feel my eyes resting more clearly on the task at hand. As one task leads to another, these fast paced spring days, that deep balance brings a welcome peace.
I felt the same sort of peace years ago, flowing through time and space, so un-rooted. That sense of ‘flow’ changes as the roots grow deeper, but it still comes. While setting up a new location to teach an open yoga class, in conjunction with our local hospital, I ran into a woman we go to church with who wants veggies. There it was – the deep current that will lead us where we need to go. I am grateful to have the presence, the peace in the midst of Springs wild currents, to see what comes toward us, and appreciate it.