The Rain on Our Skin

Feel the rain on your skin

no one else can feel it for you

Only you can let it in


Over and over we heard the words of this pop song like background music beneath our sadness as we rode uptown in an Uber. We were on West End Avenue, our way home—without our boy.

The Sundance Kid died on Friday afternoon, August 3, 2018. I felt the raindrops on my skin as if they were tears from the sky. It really felt as if the sky was crying.

We walked in the rain until we found a shoe shop with umbrellas. One for Tom, one for me. We walked toward the far end of West 57th St. We walked away from the animal hospital and toward the new green living apartment towers we like to fantasize about moving into.

Ohhh, we can begin again, Shed our skin, let the sun shine in.

At the edge of the ocean we can start over again.

Another pop song...we talk of California... Santa Monica.

Somehow we were pulled to walk to the water, toward these towers on the Hudson River—one of the few places you can feel sky, space, and see light on this rock called Manhattan. We knew it was a way to comfort ourselves, here, in the rain, in our grief.

We knew there was no way to move away from our feelings, no place where we could go and they would not be felt. So we climbed into an Uber and made our way back to Claremont Ave. We were going home without our boy. The rain stopped somewhere on the drive up West End Ave. The air felt less heavy. The sky began to clear a bit. Space for the emptiness.

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In yoga, as in the rest of my life, I want to build bridges of connection with those both on AND off my island. I want to be in that place, that space. In a sense I already am. Yet I know I could go further, much further. I want to go further. And yet it is hard, really hard when you have been trained in the type of yoga community that I have been trained in. In some ways it is like an island—an island culture of protectionism and exclusivity. There is (among many) a fear of stepping off the island and out of the box as great as that particular island or box might be. 

I have never been very good at staying in boxes, and I get restless on islands. And yet I think I too am afraid sometimes. I am not afraid of stepping out of the box or off the island. I am afraid of not belonging. I think I have always had this fear. I think it is a very human fear.

I wonder: can we help build bridges of connection by saying yes to change and to each other, to tradition and innovation, to discipline and playfulness? To life and to death? Can we honor the island and step off of it at the same time? Can we say yes? I say we can. 

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Heart, Lungs, Love

My husband and I spent time with my Mom in her skilled nursing facility in New Mexico in the week preceding Christmas. I was excited and nervous (as usual) to see her. I knew it would be emotional. I knew my heart would ache. I knew I would feel things I didn't want to feel. And I know this is what life is all about. Love is everything. It brings the greatest joy and the deepest sorrow.

One day, in her room, as I held her head in my hands, I began stroking her hair, and kissing her head and her face and my heart just took over and started to speak. It was like it bypassed my brain and found its voice. I am not even sure of exactly what I said. I know that I told her how much I loved her. Over and over I said this, just as she has been doing so much lately. I told her how grateful I was for her being her, for my life, for everything. I told her that I loved everything about her, and our lives together. I know that I meant what my heart said. 

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Couldn't We At Least?

Couldn't we at least be more specific about what, exactly, we are positing regarding the correlation between the shape of the body and the state of the mind? There do seem to be deep and profound connections. We might find interesting areas of consensus, or new questions to ask and explore in the quest to deepen our understanding of one another and our own body/mind connection/integration. Perhaps, if we did this, there would be less harm or confusion.

How can we help? Writing this piece is my way of saying that I find correlations like "crooked body, crooked mind," when taken at face value, potentially troubling. Why? Because I don't know if that is really true. And I would never want any person interested in doing Iyengar yoga to think that their inability to straighten their knee fully in a standing pose or forward bend, is necessarily unhealthy or harmful. And I certainly don't want them to think the difficulty they might have in straightening their limbs is a reflection of a "crooked" mind. Sure, certain asymmetries can cause pain and dysfunction, and pain and dysfunction can impact well being on many levels. More importantly, a person’s body shape or stiffness, or flexibility, or whatever, may or may not be a problem for them. It will end up being a problem if they think that it is. And that is unfortunate. Because it really seems like the best that any of us can really say, with confidence, is that it depends. It depends. 

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