Monday, July 24, 2017

the stuff we forget, the things we remember and the memory of healing

Self Portrait against one of the Mnac (Muzeul National Arte Contamporal) video exhibits at the Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest.

Since arriving here in Bucharest, I am astounded at how little I remember the city. Mostly, I recall the inside of Anahata, the former yoga space of my host, friend, and fellow-ashtangi Irene Zaarour, and the warmth of the students I met there; I remember her compact dog, the larger-than-life Durga; I remember sitting in the back seat of her car, watching the tree line along one of city's main avenues and noting the weight and gravity of the Palace of the Parliament, the massive government building constructed by Caucescu, as it popped into view. I remember more the great Carpathian mountainside, where we will go to tomorrow, the rock faces cutting into the skyline; to them, I had cried and confessed my sorrows, only they knew--I felt--the scope of my broken-heartedness.

Then, I had felt like I was going through one of the toughest periods of my life. I was in a love story that was unraveling and instead of walking away like two reasonable adults, we stubbornly went on with our travel plans together. By the time we arrived in Romania, where my former partner was teaching, we were only half way through our summer itinerary and I was a quiet, open-wound, rather unsuccessfully trying to accept the whole situation.

These days, I remember feeling the feelings but I can't actually remember the feelings of the feelings themselves. Does that make sense? I can name them, still, of course. I got to know myself pretty well through them: attachment, disappointment, hurt pride, loss, rejection, and, most insidiously, the feeling of not being good enough, which rattled around my head through that whole summer, that whole relationship, a sad, howling ghost that clung to me--and to which I likewise desperately held on to.

Generally, I am a feeling person, the kind that likes to get-up-close-and-personal with all my emotions. There are plenty of healthy ways to engage with one’s stories, usually with a fair amount of distance. Me, I like to cuddle with mine, winding myself around them, making it difficult, later on, to distinguish between myself and my storytelling, with each story usually a shadow of another, more entrenched, more complex than the one before. And so, I am surprised at my current lack of sentimentality. It’s been over a week now in Bucharest and there hasn’t been a trace of sadness or hurt or anger or any nostalgia to do with the past—and it’s kind of amazing! Is this what it means to really get over something? Is this what it’s like when one really lets go?

When I arrived, Irene and I were speaking about how we pretty much get what we ask for, pray for, manifest, whatever you call your mode or intention-making—that the universe, given this opportunity, is dead-set to accommodate. While it didn’t seem so at the time, I recognize how the summer of 2012 was among the first phases of a big purification. 

Had I asked plainly for love, the whole thing might have turned out differently, I might not even have made it to Romania at all. What I actually wanted was to be more in my essence. I had expressed my willingness to separate myself from my stories, those pesky ideas that define me and yet aren’t me at all. In my experience, these are the kinds of requests that the universe often fast tracks. The moment you show any inclination for serious change, an unseen force pulls and pushes, facilitating the toppling down of walls, the breaking down of barriers.  

These days, I am in awe and wonder at how time, change, and healing all come together. I realize how much I have used my writing in the past to process some heavy stuff, to help myself work out my own head and heart. Though there have been moments of quiet introspection or silences due to things being too much, too fresh (I didn't write about Romania the first time at all); so many things I've written have been about delving into my shadows or shining a much-needed light for myself. And I am slightly reveling in just being ok at present, there’s no drama to tease out, no demons to exercise, no old baggage to unpack. It’s a little odd and funny to get on this blog just to say: “hey, all’s well, not much to see here.”

As I have not been so busy reliving the past, there has been much more space to be present. I feel that I will remember more of Bucharest this time because I was more in it than I was before. I will remember the soft textures of the morning light as it streams into Asociatia Ashtanga’s śala before the morning mysore. I will remember the week of me teaching here, the generosity of the community here who took time to be with me and to show me me the city. I will remember the mix of the new and old in the city streets, the side walk café’s, delicious cappuccinos, and crumbling monuments. I will remember four-legged Durga and now her little squat friend Sham too, and, of course, so many precious exchanges with Irene about life and yoga. Most of all, I think I will remember who I am now, and how much I have become what I was looking for, and that whatever pain or difficulties it took to get here, they don’t really matter anymore. What matters is that I am clearer, more aware, more straightforward, braver, more self-assured, and more myself than I’ve ever been.

Tomorrow, I return to the mountains; I look forward to sitting with them again, like old friends who I haven’t seen for a long time, but who are never far from my mind. This time I will tell them of my open-heartedness, how wonderful it all is, and also how scary it is in so many other ways. And like before, they will surely listen, quietly reminding me that even mountains change over time.

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