I walk into our home and appreciate the space available to me. I pass through our hallway and modest living room. The space we share and sleep in is in order. I remove my shoes and jewelry and walk back through the living room to the small fridge in our closet-sized kitchen. I prepare a salad for the second time today pulling green and purple lettuce leaves into a fine settling place for bright cherry tomatoes and blueberries. I squeeze lemon juice over my humble garden plate and lightly wave it with olive oil. I smile and thank myself for caring enough to feed and nourish my body, for listening and answering. My body is satisfied, my heart is content, my mind is calm.
I stopped talking about food a long time ago, and all I’m going to say at the moment is that I’m sad for the 15 year old me who did not understand how to take care of herself in this way. I’m sad that she did not know how to feed herself and nourish her tiny body like I do now. We all do what we know how to do while it’s happening. I never thought I’d be sober or taking care of my body, let alone at the same time. I did not know how before, but I learned. The two go hand in hand. No one ever suggested that what I put into my body, or did not put into my body, might have anything to do with how I was thinking and feeling. Like I said, we all do what we know how to do.
Last night, Ali, Laura and I attended this Jonathan Austman event, Talk on Yoga : Our Elemental Nature at Yoga Public. On the way home, Laura told me a story about tapping shoulders in this exercise she’d done previously. The short version of the story being that you’re allowed to be the one who taps your own shoulder. Basically, she was telling me that I don’t need permission from others to do things for myself. You mean I am just allowed to go out there and do things? I’m allowed to just figure it out how I need to figure it all out? The epiphanies continued… Almost immediately after this, Ali told me that labeling things good or bad can potentially over-define what we experience in the present moment. Wow. Yes! I understood her clearly and honestly, but since I recently wrote a blog called,”Good Things” does that mean I have to go hide in a corner or that I broke the universe with my self-expression? No, I’m allowed to do this thing how I want! I learned something new and helpful. There is a lot of beauty in being a beginner. It certainly isn’t something worth hiding to me, and I don’t plan on hiding the parts I am all too experienced in either. Last night’s talk was insightful, but listening to my friends share what they’ve learned for themselves actually helped me see for myself.
Anyone who looks down on you for not understanding something that they understand, is lying to you. They were not born knowing how to walk the earth with courage and grace, and it doesn’t matter if a hard life taught them how or if someone showed them the way exactly. Believe me, they once gazed out into the world wondering, where do I begin, and how will I live through this pain? Don’t forget that we all start out as beginners and will continue to be beginners in most aspects of our lives. Does that mean you have to wait until you’re an expert to feel worthy? No you are worthy once you arrive here, and no can take that away from you. Remember that some people will show you how instead of showing off how they much know. I’m sure there are loads of ancient philosophies on how to be a better beginner, but we won’t be touching on those today, in this post.
One influential teacher of mine, used to play her version of the “grasshopper- catch the fly from my hand” game with me while intentionally mispronouncing my name. She’d say “Jacque” instead of Jacqui. This began on day 1, and everyone heard it. It stuck, and I am still known as “Jacque” in some small circles. Anyways, it all started that summer in Goodson Yard. I was a textbook beginner struggling with myself and the assignment, daily. Aside from dancing in a 150 year old barn in July, I was humbled and mildly frustrated in a cleansing sort of way, but this is what I needed at that time. Most of what she taught me only revealed itself after I experienced it, and slowly, I began to see why I could not catch the fly.
Years later, a sharp and immediate tragedy came into my life. I left work and wandered to her public art installation in West Midtown as a quivering, broken thing. I arrived to find that she’d made her own field in the middle of some destroyed Atlanta alleyway. Literally, she used sand bags and covered them with squares of fresh grass to make hills, and it was beautiful. This was her wonderful slice of heaven, a true field of dreams right in the middle of a not-so-good part of town. I couldn’t muster up a “hello” before the lump in my throat began again, and I don’t think I’d ever been so happy to hear her say, “It’s okay Jacque”. No forehead flicking this time. She just opened her arms and held me tight. She knew my pain was too great, and I was too tired to play any grasshopper games. We sat together on the hills she’d made watching her dancers move to the systems she’d created in the back alley of a broken down West Midtown building.
We all have a style of inquiry. There doesn’t have to always be a right way, but should you come across an opportunity to do the right thing… take it. Share what you know with someone else instead of keeping it for yourself. Especially those of us in recovery… ❤