WITH YOU, I BREATHE: A forty day yoga column
#8 The heart
We had mutual friends, we had talked for fifteen minutes, and I needed a ride to Los Angeles, so during last call, at a bar on Valencia Street, I asked him to take me back to LA. He said yes, even though he didn’t know me and who knows, I might be crazy.
A few days later on the car ride, within the first thirty minutes, we were talking about relationships. I was talking about my one giant big relationship, the one that broke my heart into a million pieces. I was talking about how it ended and thought, Really Zoë. This again.
* * *
The woman with the red platform shoes didn’t like me. I looked at her shoes because I didn’t dare look at her face or try and talk with her. We sat outside on metal chairs, side by side, and I looked at her crossed ankles, I looked at her bright red platform shoes. I could feel her dislike for me. Her dislike for me was palpable.
You would think I’d care that someone disliked me that much but I didn’t. Her dislike had nothing to do with me. It was about him and it was about her and mostly it was about her. I just started flexing my feet, toes facing toward my face, my toes facing away. He looked at me, flexing my feet, and then I put my feet down on the ground, stood up, and walked back into the bar.
* * *
Hey, you tried, I said. And that’s a pretty big deal.
She doesn’t think so. She doesn’t think I tried at all.
But you did. It’s a big deal. You know that.
* * *
I thought something was wrong with me, if he was over his giant big relationship and was now dating again. In my head, we had both given up on romantic relationships a long time ago. The last time I saw him, he told me how he was over that relationship. He told me how he started dating again and how he had ended a relationship with one woman, because he had fallen for someone else, and how soon he was going to go for it. He was going to go for it, date the woman he really liked and maybe could love and who knows, maybe he already loved her. I gave him advice and as I was leaving, he reached out his hand. He wanted a kiss. I smiled and said, What about morning breath and then I leaned in and we kissed. He’s a friend of mine.
* * *
I just feel like a cold person, I guess. Because I’d rather be alone.
Well, he said. You got a taste of what a relationship was like and thought it wasn’t for you.
* * *
A man said to me, I just don’t like the idea that someone is going to dislike me by the end of it. They’re just going to grow to dislike me.
Yeah, I said and nodded.
Later, I thought, But what if you found someone, who instead of liking you less and less, what if you found someone, who saw you, with your challenges and strengths, and liked you more and more. What I mean is, what if you were with someone who saw all the parts of you that you thought were ugly and dark and crazy. What if you were with someone who saw the parts of you that you thought were unlovable and that someone liked you, more and more, not in spite of those parts, but because of them.
So I got it in my head and then my heart that that kind of love is possible. I started to believe that kind of love is possible for me and I started to believe that kind of love is possible for you, too.
* * *
Last night, I went to a Hatha class and felt an opening of my heart, a letting go. During the final resting pose, I cried. I cried and while crying, I thought about how I really did want everyone to be happy and I loved everyone, even though that was impossible, surely. But I did love everyone in those moments, I really did.
On Tuesday night, I taught my first yoga class, and for every person who walked into the room, I made room for them in my heart. Throughout class, I wished for them joy and rest and peace. That is what teaching yoga can be like: making space in your heart for your students, for people who are basically strangers.
Last night, as I lay there in the dark, during final resting pose, I thought of the quote, “Dear child, break your heart no longer. Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart.” I thought about how there’s no point in judging myself or anyone and for the most part I don’t, or at least, try not to. I make the effort. I try not judge myself and judge other people because what I want is to repair the heart.