"What if the closest we get to the moment is now?" - Katie Herzig
I had an interesting experience the other day. Well, two interesting experiences, on different days, but they both led me here to the page.
The first was this: a yoga peer and friend of mine read a short fictional novel I wrote about meditation. Let me emphasize fictional. However, my friend, after finishing it, asked in a very quiet voice if my experience in meditation was anything like my main characters experience in meditation. I could tell that as she asked the question that she was fearful of my answer. What if I said yes? What if meditation was always supposed to look and feel like the amazing states this pen and paper person could daily achieve? What if my friend's meditation practice wasn't good enough? Thankfully I was able to drown her doubts in my whoop of laughter that my character's meditation experience was one I could only write fiction about. Her experience was not mine, and in truth I never expect it will be, not even if I live to be 108. We shared a relieved cup of coffee together and continued on our own perspective paths.
Nonetheless, her words planted a seed of doubt in me. As I walked home from yoga some days later I was relaxed from all the warm stretching and blissful Savasana. I put my headphones in to keep the sounds of traffic from bringing reality back too quickly. The breeze was light and my feet habitually led me to a tall grove of trees. I turned my face upwards to watch the leaves sway in the wind, the clouds grow and shrink in the sky, and the sun give way to the moon. As I took a deep content breath, Katie Herzig sang the words, "What if the closest we get to the moment is now?" then a lovely instrumental. For 30 seconds I smiled and was completely okay if this was the closest I got. Then my good friend's worry came back to me. I went from smiling and content to crying and distraught in less than a measure.
I let myself fight and suffer with this for about a week alone. My mood about it swung wildly from one extreme to the other. Of course it would be okay if my experience with my practice was all it currently is. I am dedicated, seeking, open to new experiences, and forgiving of myself when I have off days. But, myself would scream from the seed of doubt that I let root in, but what if you were meant for more and you just aren't disciplined (see my last post for my views on that naughty word!) enough, just not trying hard enough? After a week of slight panic I decided it was time to share my struggle. I spoke to another colleague, my spouse, and finally got brave enough to take it to my class and show them just how human their teacher was. I had them all relax and listen to the song, to listen to how their insides responded to the song, and confessed how my insides responded by going to battle within me.
The good news: none of them thought I was crazy. Even better, no one confirmed my deepest fear that I was simply lazy in my efforts in leading a life of purpose. Best of all, everyone admitted to having their own personal questions about how they were doing on their own path, and that it was the mere fact that the question asked itself that kept us strong and disciplined and true to the path of our choice. It's when we stop asking that we should start to worry.
The bad news? This song, that I once loved, is now a button for me. I don't love it any less now, if anything I love it more for the effect it had on me. I do however never know what my response to it will be on any given day. Will it make me smile, think, sigh, cry, drive me to my mat or to a trusted text or friend?
I invite you now, gentle reader, to share with me. Get your ears on this song, close your eyes or look at the sky, go for a walk or rest in Savasana. Listen to the song, the words and the music, and watch your reaction. But, just so you know, in my opinion, wherever you are right now is exactly where you are supposed to be. Your practice and path is your own; it is not your friends', not your peers', not some fictional ideal. And if this is the closest, then let that be okay. But... look down your path, to the future you. Are you any different or exactly the same? Then ask yourself the question what if? Does the question stir up anything? Is that anything something you can work on? Is it exactly the question that can launch you forward on your path, the question to keep your step confident and true? Is it the question that can give you the strength you need to get through the holiday season and into the new year? And if that isn't enough to chew on, my husband would say the next Katie Herzig song to get you thinking would be Daisies and Pews. Happy listening and happy meditating!