This past June I was walking down a street in beautiful Port Tel Aviv. I was there to teach a workshop. I had been doing some afternoon grocery shopping and was hauling my bounty on my back in the backpack that I travel with expressly for this purpose. Groceries can be heavy.
It was hot and sunny as it usually is in this part pf the world in late June. The buildings were a bright white, reflecting the the light of the sun which can be intense in this part of the world. I like Tel Aviv. It reminds me of New York City in many ways. The people have a similar friendly directness, sometimes called gruffness. It is like New York City with better weather, and beaches!
I looked across the street and my eyes rested on a large black block letters spaced just so on the white stucco facade of a building. T R A N S I T I O N. Whoa. I stopped. I starred. "T r a n s i t i o n," I said slowly, sounding it out phonetically like it was not word that I knew. The meaning was right there in the slow sounding of the word, the feeling of its meaning, the feeling that this was not an accident.
I wanted to take a cell phone shot, but the groceries were on my back and my phone was buried somewhere in the depths of the pack that carried them. So I looked. I looked for a while. I let the letters breath. They did breathe—swelling as I inhaled, shrinking as I exhaled, as so etched their way into my body, into my consciousness. Black letters on a white background. Sweaty back under heavy groceries. Bright sunlight. Port Tel Aviv. Recognition.
Transitions do not feel black and white to me. And yet—this contrast of the black letters on the white background that afternoon in Tel Aviv has stayed with me. I think about this word differently now. In that moment . . . it meant something.
I am in huge transition. Life is a transition—an ever changing passage from one thing/place/state to another. A metamorphosis. We are always changing but there are times when that change is felt more acutely than others. There are times when that change is more radical, accelerated, momentous.
Life circumstances can precipitate these changes. Things like illness, death, losing a job, having to move, relationship changes, work changes, the list goes on and on.
Sometimes it is more gradual, sometimes it is sudden. Sometimes you find yourself starring at letters on the spaced just so and spelling it out. T R A N S I T I O N. You got that???
Like me, the people I am closest to in my life are also undergoing monumental changes. We are in it together. Thank goodness for that. Truth is, none of us are alone in change. Change is. It can be like a trickle or like a wave. It can be steady or have magnitude, velocity, volume. Regardless, it is a force. It is a force of nature (for change is nature) and it must be respected. I respect change, and I respect myself and other people enough to allow change. Big F'n change.
Those I once considered to be my tribe are still a part of me, but I find my heart spilling from one tribe into another bigger body of water and quite honestly, a body of knowledge so much richer than the one I was raised in. It is almost like a delta where the waters from a particular river finally spread out and enter the sea. The fresh and salt water have mingled now and are forever altered.
Yep, I have mingled with the other. This wave called change has taken me. I find myself no longer feeling isolated. I no longer feel isolated in community, or within myself. I find myself becoming a part of a bigger community. A community that is nascent in many ways. It does not adhere to the dogmas with which I was raised. That is exciting. It is diverse, still growing and full of the type of freshness you expect from things at their inception. Of course it is also old, for we are always building on that which has come before us, both honoring, and expanding.
I love and respect Iyengar Yoga, but cannot limit my body/heart/mind to a limited version of this practice. I cannot help but be informed by all that I am learning and discovering. I see the possibilities in what a more expansive vision of practice holds. To not embrace this would be unfair to Iyengar yoga which, at its best, is always changing too. It is not a fixed thing. Just like we are not fixed things. Unfortunately there are those who would like to keep it that way--fixed, as they felt that it was--as if it was ever anything other than changing anyway. That is okay. That is not what gets me up in the morning.
What gets me up in the morning? Learning, growing, experimenting, exploring. Learning new things!
That has meant getting out of the comfort zone of my chosen community and identity. It meany loosening the ties that were binding me to an idea of their importance in my life, growth, and trajectory. This meant letting go of my attachment to certain relationships—like that of a familiar teacher. These relationships are still are valued in my life—but I am not bound to them in the way that I was. I can't tell you how liberating that is.
So, who am I now if I am not who and what I thought I was? Who are we now if we are not who we thought we were?
I go back to metamorphosis. This idea has intrigued me for years. My closest friends know this. There is very real pain in change, in growth, in freedom. But there is also joy and excitement. There is fear. There is uncertainty. But there are always these myriads of feelings anyway! At least here, in the T R A N S I T I O N, there is the recognition that we are on an adventure and we don't really know the outcome. I certainly don't. And I am finding happiness letting myself be right here, right now, in the momentous flow of not knowingness.
The flow of change is taking me in a certain direction. Truth is—my heart kind of knows where it is going. It has a feeling. My body and its movements, my heart, and my viscera, they all speak the language of feeling. I feel their tug like a swimmer can feel the tug of a rip tide. I am letting them carry me. I swim parallel to the shore. I do not panic. This flow is where I belong. The water is my friend.
Are you in transition, too? Do you find yourself metamorphosing? Are you letting go? If so, what are you letting go of? What are you flowing into? Are you letting the people/ideas/organizations in your life grow, transition, and metamorphosize too? Where are you in this change, in this transition, in this passage we call living?
Photos: Jamey Welch, Carrie Owerko, Joe Arcidiacano