WITH YOU, I BREATHE: A forty day yoga column
#39: Something about the spirit
Yesterday I heard a sad story and as I drove home, I cried. Or I didn’t cry. I just felt like I wanted to. My eyes watered.
Last night a bookseller let me buy Blue Nights. A day early. I started crying 3o pages in. This is the line that first made me cry. “So I’d take Q to school, and she’d walk down this steep hill. All the kids wore uniforms–Quintana wore a plaid jumper and a white sweater, and her hair–she was a towhead in that Malibu sun–her hair was in a ponytail.”
I woke up this morning. The sun was out but it was foggy. I texted a friend to see if it was still snowing in New York. He said no. By the time I left the house to buy a cup of coffee, the fog cleared.
Recently there was a night when I stood outside a bar in Los Feliz and the fog encircled us. We went back to a house and I left at 3:30 a.m. and drove to Pasadena to practice yoga at 4 a.m. As I drove on the freeway, the fog was thick. I could not see the white lines separating the lanes, and the giant full moon looked like it was hanging low in the black sky.
It’s meant to be that I’m here right now, I thought. Because it was beautiful and I witnessed the beauty. Maybe I wanted someone to see the giant yellow moon with me. Maybe I wanted us to reach our hands upwards to the black sky and believe that we could touch the big bad beautiful moon. What I’m saying is maybe I didn’t want to be alone, maybe I wanted someone to love and I wanted that someone to be with me right at that moment. Then again: maybe not. Maybe not at all.
Months ago, I went to a tarot card reader. She did a spread on love and looked at me. Zoë, what happened? Every card, every card was about hurt and death. She did more spreads about my life and friendship and the death card kept showing up. Zoë, she said. Stop dying! We laughed. She said I would continue to discard and grieve and lose for most of the year. I don’t mind discarding and grieving and losing. I don’t mind the death card. It’s all about transformation.
Today I went to Occupy LA and didn’t plan well for parking, I didn’t bring enough quarters for the meter. Off the Mat, Into the World planned a yoga class at noon. For the first time I heard and saw Seane Corn in person. I’ve been reading and listening to her interviews. She looked happy and light and she spoke with strength and spirit.
‘This is not the revolution,” said a man in a pirate hat who walked from the tents to the side where I was. He seemed drunk. “Notice everyone who is doing yoga here is white and middle class.” The class was in downward dog. He climbed over the rail and onto the steps where the teachers were sitting and yelled at the students practicing yoga.
Later a man would weave in between the mats yelling at the students and Seane Corn would take the microphone. She would say something about spirit and love 100 percent of the time. She would lead the class to say, Om and her voice and all their voices would drown out the man’s voice who yelled.
I wrote in my notebook: “We acknowledge our own greed and selfishness that exist within us.” A teacher had said that. I sat on the grass in my yoga clothes, writing in my notebook and a couple of yogis told me that they had extra yoga mats, if I wanted to join. That’s how yogis are. They’re so inviting. I said, Thank you. I explained the meter situation. I said, Thank you for organizing the class.
I could’ve brought extra quarters, I could’ve been prepared but wasn’t. This morning when I woke up I didn’t want to practice yoga at Occupy LA. Which had something to do with the sad story from the day before, Blue Nights, and how it all came back last night. Where I’m from and who I was and who I am now. What I want and what I think I deserve. How I showed up as a writer and yogi, with my leggings and tank top, with my pen and notebook and recorder. Because I told myself I would. Because I wanted to remember.
As I left, Seane Corn was talking about the spirit and it felt like there was spirit in that class and in the teachers. I felt my own spirit just by watching them practice, just by the yoga teachers words. As I walked away, I felt lighter but now feel heavy again. Although this is what I know or what I think I know or more accurately and truthfully what I believe: the spirit is something light and bright and endures. The breath leads you to your spirit and is always available. I do my best to remember.