Right now I’m in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. Every morning, I practice in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Out on the deck, facing the ocean. Open air above me, I make shapes and play amidst the salty breeze. I gaze forward and witness the horizon extending out into infinity directly to my front.
Yet this morning, I had a visitor join me on my mat. A black fly, just like the biting pests who nearly forced me off the beach our first day here with their relentless stings.
And as I moved through the practice, the more frustrated I became with this uninvited visitor. Although he was somewhat courteous in that he did not bite me directly, he continued to skirt around my body, traipsing through the open-faced poison ivy wounds on my arms.
I began to stomp and cry out. Tears forming at the corners of my eyes, I shouted, “Fuck you fly, get off!” So yogic of me, right? But one thing I’ve found in my years of practice is yoga is nothing like the cover of a magazine. It is a messy, salty, sweaty, living beast that changes shapes and form as consistently as the changing tide, and all too often involves curse words and the occasional toddler-reminiscent temper tantrum. Because that is real life.
And then I remembered where I was. I realized the fly was taking me out of the experience of the ocean, the natural beauty all around me. I blew my nose to find a passage to breath again and then allowed the air to carry me, returning within and moving forward despite the distractions.
There will always be a fly. The flies are the doubters, the disbelievers, the ones who nag at you and tell you that you’re not good enough, just as you are, in this moment. The flies are the ones who don’t understand what it’s like to be in your body, your soul, your spirit. So they attempt to take you out of yourself. They don’t understand, so they continue to swarm, possibly catching a glimpse of the light that you emit from within, and craving more. They come ever closer, yet they do not stop their incessant buzzing.
Just the other day, I asked my family members to read a story that I worked on for the past two months. This morning one of my family members told me he had finished it. He told me he liked it, and then told me no less than twenty things I need to change about it.
It’s important to have people who push you forward, toward growth. But from where I stand, it feels like there are twenty things I need to change about myself, in order to be able to communicate with other people. And that’s the part that hurts, deeply. I could not convey this feeling to my family member in words, so I just began to cry. He responded by saying it makes him uncomfortable when I “get emotional” about things that are simple. But it’s not simple. It never has felt simple to me. It feels overwhelming, like I don’t know where to begin, and words don’t even begin to capture what I feel inside. It’s like the ocean. I can try however I might to put words to the vastness and the beauty, the ethereal existence. But the written description always seems to fall short.
Right now in practice, marichyasana b has been the bane of my existence for a few weeks. I struggle with the bind. My teacher tells me I have the strength and the flexibility; I just need to learn how to hold hands with myself. I believe it’s all connected. Practice, life, writing, love. All intertwined and maybe my hands don’t quite reach yet, but I can continue to wrap around in whatever way I can, and try my best to take things one at a time. Learning to hold hands with myself.