Sunday, October 25, 2009

ego smackdown

This morning, while in a 9am yoga class, working through the remnants of last night’s mini margarita, a song came on that my very first yoga teacher used to play in class all the time. While I’m sure it has a proper name, on my ipod it’s known as Joe Yoga 3 and has the ability to take me back in time and space. As the music flowed I felt my body let go and grace take over. I’m not naturally a graceful person, but sometimes, in a class, the movement, the music, the poses come together and I’m not myself anymore, I’m part of something bigger, greater. I know, that sounds ridiculous. But occasionally it shows up and I float in the moment. My ego, normally very involved and, well, egotistical, is forced to twiddle its thumbs and do something else for a bit. As I walked home, this post evolved so perfectly in my head that I’m sure I’ll screw it up as I write it out, but stick with me for a bit.

When I turned 40, I started to panic. Was this it? It seemed my entire life centered around being a mother and as my kids gained independence, where would that leave me? I felt washed up, over-the-hill, not relevant. I had no optimism, no enthusiasm, I slipped into a black hole of despair that lasted for 3 months. Towards the tail end I found a yoga teacher at my gym who was just this cool, challenging, thought-provoking guy with awesome playlists. It didn't hurt that he was super cute. And I thought, that perhaps the answer to feeling better was to get into amazing physical shape. Even though I still went to the gym on a slightly obsessive basis, my commitment had seriously slipped from my anorexia-driven workout mania. We did conventional training for a few weeks—my gift to myself—and then I tried one on one yoga. We'd go through an hour of poses and then talk for an hour after. He gave me books to read, forced me into corners examining how I felt/what I thought. It was uncomfortable and unnerving, but I was thinking again. He left for India and I fell apart for a bit. The sterile gym floor, bench presses and stair masters, just didn't do it anymore.

I took a deep breath and headed out to find a yoga studio. I've been happily practicing at Laughing Lotus ever since. And then new projects started coming my way. FLOW will be out in 2.5 weeks. But in the past 5 years, I've done 8 other projects with Chronicle Books. Looking back, it's hard to imagine that I was so sure my life was over, when I was on the edge of yet another beginning. I'm feeling that way now. FLOW's done. What next? Will I ever do another project? Will anyone pay attention to this one? Will it just slip away into used book tables at the Strand? But this time, the ego spin doesn't have as much of a hold as it used to. I'm sure being 45 has something to do with it. Being more grounded. Taking things less seriously. I know yoga's made a difference. I can't obsess and panic when attempting side crow, my body balancing precariously on my upper arms, as I try to lift my toes off the floor and then (and this has actually happened once or twice), my legs extend out to the side. My ego's still in the running, as I was fought thinking all this during class. Staying truly present will always be a challenge. But those moments when it all comes together?

I get it Joe.

Day 26. Amazed. And pretty damn proud of myself.


Jeremy said...

As the years have passed, I have become far more familiar with who I actually am, and therefore, far more comfortable with myself and the shortcomings I am very aware of.

40 was pretty easy. 45 less so. I'm not looking forward to 50.

Elissa Stein said...

45 is good (except for the ever-deepening creases between my eyebrows. I'm not thinking 50 yet.

Luna said...

It's wild sometimes how everything will just click into place.. I love those moments... I've been putting off finding a place to do yoga thinking I cant' make my mental mind slow down that much LOL
but hopefully this winter I will.
I love your writing style.