Wednesday, August 7, 2013

a room of one's own

Creating space in the great Spanish Pyranees.

My belief is that if we live another century or so — I am talking of the common life which is the real life and not of the little separate lives which we live as individuals — and have five hundred a year each of us and rooms of our own; if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting-room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality; and the sky, too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves...if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare's sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down. Drawing her life from the lives of the unknown who were her forerunners, as her brother did before her, she will be born. As for her coming without that preparation, without that effort on our part, without that determination that when she is born again she shall find it possible to live and write her poetry, that we cannot expect, for that would be impossible. But I maintain that she would come if we worked for her, and that so to work, even in poverty and obscurity, is worth while.  --Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"

Finally, grounding. After nearly two months of living out of a backpack, I have unpacked properly: emptied my luggage and put my things away in a closet. A real closet. A spacious closet. In a real room. All my own. 

Most of you all might be thinking, what kind of world do I live in? Rooms and closets are, after all, common place. But over the last two months, I've been on the road, playing houseguest as I made my way to and fro a 5-week stint teaching and volunteering at a retreat center in the Spanish Pyranees. In the dormitories there was not much privacy and modest personal space, little room to spread out, not for my things anyway. To add to the mix, I was also inhabiting a vacuum in which two people at the end of a relationship collide, where much sense of space, air, freedom is sucked into into vortex of distance, sadness and trying to make sense of things. 

And while there was a lack of personal space, I also recognize how comfortable I could be under such circumstances. How my heart found latitude in the expansive landscape. How I found warm, comfortable, and large halls in the human connections I made in Vió and in Barcelona. How when there's a shortage of anything, a certain resourcefulness kicks in, and bliss is found in those small solitary moments, diving into a task, taking coffee at the neighboring village, going for a walk in the greatly inspiring out doors, or even singing with every fiber of my being in a close circle of people. How the body, the mind and the heart finds room in every possible nook and cranny.

Even settling in Osaka has not been so swift. The first 5 days has been a series of shuffling myself and my luggage between the yoga studio and two different hotels before moving into my shared house in Miyakojima. And now, with mysore classes already going well at the studio, I have unpacked, positioned my futon, set up a makeshift altar, found a corner for my ukulele and a spot against the wall to lean the few books I travel with. It's sparse, but it's home--for now anyway.

There are many things to be said for having a room of one's own, for having space for your person to stretch out, to hang loose, to be naked (not necessarily literally, but this is ok also!), to understand truly who we are without the context of any other. I recognize that I want this also, that the relationship that I should be cultivating is the one with myself. And that to continue to grow a loving and healthy relationship with my beloved self, I must spend time with myself, I must listen to my body, my heart and my mind, I must give myself space and opportunity to work, to love and to create. And in a new city, a new country even, I've been given plenty of room to do just that. So, slowly, slowly another kind of unpacking can now take place...


  1. lots of shoulds and musts, but - yeah- enjoy yourself... ;) your love is more important than relationships...

  2. A friend corrected me last time I used "should -- she said there is no such thing. there is only what is...