The end of 2016. How do I describe it?
Like a derailed train car screeching across cement, then finally slamming into a surface. Sparks and friction, the impact, then quiet.
The beginning of 2017: standing naked, clothes around my feet. (Dramatic much, Charlie? I know.)
In this season of weird, post-wreckage silence and gaping vulnerability; sometime between the old year ending, and the new beginning, I took a yoga class that started with us placing a hand over our heart. A protective gesture of self love and safety, with the other hand palm up on our knee, open to possibility and wisdom. It was a moment where I felt very present, and in that moment I felt my word for the new year.
I’ve lost my words in the past, forgetting or changing them. But this year the word is more than a word. It feels intriguing and a bit novel to my adventurous bent, and it’s tied to a growing platform of security and sense of value inside me that nobody else has power over. It’s a word that reflects an actual happening, a movement and shift in my life: Safe.
I’ve resisted safety, associating it with deprivation, boredom, and rules. All of my least favorites. Conversely, I’ve chased safety for years. Purchases to complete, travels to escape, arms to hold and affirm. I’ve spent a lot of money, energy and time chasing the high of a fleeting, fake security. Especially when life made me hurt so much.
It’s funny how backwards it all ends up being, how one can be so unsafe in the pursuit and craving of safety.
Life wrecks us; we wreck ourselves. The process is a brutal teacher and often it’s five steps forward, four steps back. But if at some point we can find the courage and kindness/humor towards self to face the truths revealed in the wreckage, we start to see. It’s vulnerable and scary. But then, five steps forward, only three steps back. We start to feel something new. We start to act and not react.
Back to yoga. For the last month, I’ve been working on core strength so that I could do headstand without a wall. Thanks to the ice storm I enjoyed extra time on the mat today, and finally floated up. If you’ve done headstand, you probably remember how you felt the first few times, when a new equilibrium takes over and your legs are being pulled by gravity; you feel vulnerable, knowing you could fall. But you probably also remember feeling grounded in your forearms, strong in your core, peaceful in your breath. And you stay up. Move your legs around in the new space, even. Play.
Maybe this sounds really out there to you; even I’m rolling my eyes at myself a bit here. But I think that the body can instruct the soul through a yoga practice. A few weeks ago, it helped me find my word for the new year, for this time of endings and beginnings. Today, it helped to define it.
Safety and adventure aren’t mutually exclusive. While I know I’ll have to say “No” more than I have in the past, and maybe even survive some boredom, living safe does not mean scrapping myself and staying in child’s pose (nothing wrong with child’s pose) because I’m afraid of the passionate person I am. On the contrary, I’m free to float on up. To play, to be me, grounded in my worth and value.
It’s been a long road road to get here, and the space is strange–wrecked, naked, dramatic. Surprising, to feel grateful for it.