"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Three classes in a row now, the temperature in the studio has been well above the optimum one hundred five degrees. I saw three ones on the digital read-out as I staggered out of the studio yesterday.

A couple of times during yesterday's practice, I considered whether I was going to be able to stay in the room. Sweat fell from my face like a Northwest rainstorm whenever I leaned over. I had to make myself not groan with effort - in part because the guy next to me groaned at everything and it was bugging me more than a little. I just did what I could, as quietly as I could, and stayed.

No one complains about the heat. I'm not about to be the first. Which means I can either give up yoga because of the discomfort and my fear of not being able to measure up, or I can accept what is and see what happens.

Acceptance has been a hard won prize for me. For a lot of my life, I've seen acceptance as settling, giving up, weakness. Once I understood it's none of those things, the challenge has been to see acceptance as a strength. Much like it's difficult to truly believe that savasana, being a corpse, is the most advanced yoga pose.

How can resting, doing nothing, just allowing things to be, be enough?

Doing nothing feels irresponsible, lazy and passive. Powerless.

In her new book, Marriage and Other Acts of Charity (to be released next January), Kate Braestrup talks to a man about falling out of an airplane, and how terrible - hopeless - that would be. She wonders whether the no hope could be liberating. "If there's nothing you can do, there's nothing you should do." She goes on to propose that no hope leaves only curiosity.

Acceptance is release of expectations - no hope. Without expectation, there is nothing to be afraid of. Only a sense of wonder at what unfolds from minute to hour to lifetime.

Driving away from yoga class with the late summer wind dancing through my open windows yesterday, deeply relaxed and cleansed, I began to feel a glimmer of that wonder.

Nearly a month into the school-year-that-isn't, I'm just now beginning to see that my lack of production, my lack of routine, my lack of structure are all okay. Necessary even. I expected to be full of energy and focus the minute summer was over - as measured in school time. I wasn't. I did what I could, fretted over what I wasn't doing, and frustrated myself with what I considered a dangerous trend of not working hard enough.

I love being home. I love deciding how I'm going to spend my time. I even love doing the domestic things that will make life easier for Walt at the end of a long school day. Toby's company is enough to make me laugh and keep me entertained. I feel connected to an amazing web of friends. And while I'm not particularly thrilled at each new agent rejection, even those make me feel real - only real writers get those rejections.

There is deep magic in the air right now. The wind blows hot, but with a cool voice that promises change. It gently lifts the apricot leaves from the delicate purple ash so that it's entering the new season naked. Standing under the blanket of stars at the end of night I hear our owl for the first time since spring. A single cricket chirps his elegy to summer in a duet with a towhee's buzz-whirr.

All of that happens without my help or work or effort. All I have to offer is my attention and gratitude and faith that all is exactly as it is meant to be. Seasons turn. Change is inevitable. Trust is safe. I only have to show up, be present, and accept the gifts as they happen.

picture by SteelNat from Flickr


Janna Qualman said...

I find it incredible that no one complains. Do you think they've even noticed? 111. Amazing.

But then, if it makes everything think as you are, if the others are getting reasons and lessons out of it the way you are, maybe the world will be a little bit better place because of it.

Anonymous said...

I think that I've always equated acceptance with giving up as well. This idea of seeing acceptance as a strength, I need to think on this. It feels right. Thank you.

Go Mama said...

Hi Deb,
From one Doer to another, another way to frame it is

Rather than being passive, settling, doing nothing, Acceptance = Surrender to what is unfolding in the Now moment.

Rather than associating it with being a corpse, dead, Savasana = Being Still, opening to the inherent wisdom within that surely comes from quieting the body and mind.

I can feel the yoga infiltrating your life right now, gently shaping your thoughts.

Love this; I feel it too:
>There is deep magic in the air right now. The wind blows hot, but with a cool voice that promises change. It gently lifts the apricot leaves from the delicate purple ash so that it's entering the new season naked.<

Keep going!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"while I'm not particularly thrilled at each new agent rejection, even those make me feel real - only real writers get those rejections."

Absolutely. And what you are doing is puttering. Puttering brings great fulfillment.

Your writing has taken a turn - more poetic and very beautiful. Be glad with your days.

As to the warm yoga? I can't answer to that. I live in a warm place. I find my peace in the water - indoors and out. I want to be a yoga person. Not sure my puttering nature fits in though. Yoga is very hard work.

Diane said...

I think in Hatha Yoga the heat is supposed to be wonderful and help you bend easier. Your post has great thoughts. Thanks for sharing! :O)

Bernie said...

Acceptamce gives you strength? I will think on that one. It is sort of like accepting what a friend of mine always said as he faced harder physical tests and pain,"You gotta do what you gotta do." and I have followed this thought.

Your descriptive paragraph is lovely. I loved it.

FrecklesandDeb said...

The showing up is sometimes the hardest part. Being aware and accepting give me the strength to deal with situations I never thought I would find myself in.

kario said...

God, you are amazing! I love this life you have created for yourself and I love that you continue to frame it within the natural world that surrounds you.

I am in awe.

Jerri said...

Amazing how much difference only a few degrees make, how much more stress 6 degrees place on your body.

Rejections and loose ends turn up the temperature of this transition you're in. Maybe the challenge is to "stay in the room," to do what's possible and to accept what is not.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I find corpse pose extremely difficult, too -- I can't lie still...or won't...and it usually lasts seconds not minutes.

I love this post about acceptance . . .

Carrie Wilson Link said...


Jessica said...

wow, interesting post.
First of all, that is WAY too hot for me. LOL! So I'll climb trees and you can sweat. :-)
Also, I think acceptance, and even servanthood, is strenght. Compromise is strenght. I don't agree about the no hope though. THere is curiosity if we don't know what's next. But if we know what's coming, and it's terrible, and we have no hope....I don't think curiosity is the only thing we'd feel.
About falling out of the airplane, I can see the curiosity because we already know that we'll die on impact, and thus feel nothing. Therefore, we can relinquish hope and enjoy (or at least be curious, lol) the journey. Does that make sense?
Really interesting post though.
I hope you enjoy your class and do it for yourself, not for being strong. :-)

Jessica said...

Hahaa! Okay Deb, Miss Teacher, I promise I know how to spell "strength" LOL!!!

Also, I'm sorry about the rejections, but you're right, they're proving that you're on the journey instead of sitting in one place. :-)

Genuine Italian Red Leather (G.I.R.L.) said...

Decompression...that is the word I used as I left my career... I've used it since in leaping the cravices that have striped my life. Change felt directly with every hot stretch and bend of your yoga experience. I love your images and I feel myself in that chamber of decompression as I read. Thanks for the relief!

Amber said...

WHAT a wonderful post. Everything, I find something in that is meaningful. And smart.