Monday, November 16, 2009

FLOW afterglow

The event: my first FLOW party

The setting: a glowing pink and orange room at Laughing Lotus, rainbow confetti strewn across the floor (this was from the class before, but nobody walking in knew that)

The crowd: my closest friends and total strangers. Teachers from the studio and relatives. My editor and the under 12 crowd, doing art projects in the back of the room. People in dressy clothes and people with dreadlocks.

The equalizer: no shoes.

I had no idea what to expect. As I walked up to the studio, a case of books stashed in the bottom of one of those old lady shopping carts people use in the city (disclaimer 1: it's not mine. disclaimer 2: Iz pushed it the whole way), I felt myself shutting down. Why? I'll say it again, I had no idea what to expect. This party was ephemeral—a concept, a dream, intangible. Honestly though, most of what's going on with FLOW is all of the above. I'm having a hard time basking in the reality of it. Perhaps it's the finality of this part of the process. I have to let go. The book's not just mine anymore. It's out in the world and will make its own mark. People will discuss and be disgusted. Or fall in love. Form opinions. Write, gift, return. All out of my control. Up until this point, I had input. Vision. I shaped and formed. Often while arguing and getting tied up into knots. But it was mine. Now it's belongs to whoever wants to own it, think about it, embrace or reject it.

Honestly, all that wasn't going through my head as I walked up to the studio. I was more concerned about my hair getting wavy in the humidity (it did) and whether I wore the right pants (that's still in question).

We got there just as a class ended—hot steam pouring out as the doors opened and countless blissful people floated by. And still, I had no idea what to expect. Where we'd be. How things would be set up. What I'd say. We ended up in that very same steamy classroom, yoga blankets placed in a semi-circle with a spot for me in the middle, against an orange wall, under a painting of Lakshmi, the goddess of abundance. At first it felt like it would be just me talking into space. And then, slowly, people trickled in. Dana, the goddess who owns the studio, gave me a lovely intro and then I was on.

I took a breath and started talking. Within seconds Jon was signaling me to slow down. I owe him a big thank you for that as I tend to talk too fast, especially when I'm nervous or excited, therefore blowing through what I'd prepared in 2 minutes instead of 5. So, I'm 5 minutes in, wrapping up the back story of why I wrote this book, and there I am, on a pile of mats, in front of a sizable crowd of people, all with expectant looks on their faces. And I had nothing to say. Well, nothing prepared, organized, outlined, or thought out. Part of me was thinking: shit. I thought this was going to be more like a cocktail-less cocktail party, people milling about and chatting, asking the occasional question, but not all me as center of attention.

I was the center of attention.

I had marked off a couple of passages from 2 of my favorite chapters (advertising and education), pages that felt like my words with a minimum of sugar coating. I found myself editing out analogies and extraneous phrases, that didn't feel like they'd work while reading out loud. But, I found, it wasn't about reading. It was about connecting these thoughts and ideas and telling a story. So, I put the book down and started talking. Forgive me, but I was flowing. I have no idea what I said, how I tied strands together, what points I made. I was aware of people nodding in agreement, laughing, carefully watching me. I noticed the pre-teen girls in the back were pretty fidget-free. There was a consciousness of people looking at me differently. Suddenly I wasn't the yogi in the back corner of the room, or another mom at drop-off, or an older sister. I was someone with original ideas, a different perspective, who'd had a vision and made it read. I was also incredibly sensitive to the fact I had no idea how to wrap things up. Or how much time had passed. Why wasn't anyone pointing at a watch? Giving me a wrap it up hand signal? Dozing in the back?

And I'm still talking. I certainly could've talked for hours—there's so much to say: fascinating stories. Historical facts. Biological oddities. But, that's why there's a book. And I was starting to sense that not everyone was all that comfortable sitting crossed legged on the floor for so long. So I said thank with with a bow, answered a couple of questions, sent people out to have a tarot card reading (with thanks to my friend Gayle!), and signed a lot of books. The entire box was gone.

It was amazing. I LOVE connecting, talking, sharing, informing. My tarot cards said what I wish for will all happen. My burden will be how to handle the abundance. That after confusion right now, it's smooth sailing and success.

And yet, as I basked in the FLOW afterglow, I saw storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Within minutes of hitting the street, a brutal temper tantrum struck someone in my entourage. It lasted for hours. While I just needed to curl up in a dark room, depleted from my moment in the sun, instead I had to soothe and calm someone else, make dinner and negotiate bedtime. Mediate arguments, read stories, and let go of my own needs to take care of someone else.

The summary: gratitude for a delicious, super-shiny, thrilling moment nestled in the middle of a typical day.


Will Conley said...

You are a good writer, Elissa. Sounds like an eye-opening experience. Or rather, it sounds like your eyes were open to experience. A hard-won ability in any society. Good job.

I especially like the "someone in my entourage" allusion to your child. It's very show-not-tell.

Jeremy said...

Glad to hear how well the event went. :)

...and it wasn't Jon who had the tantrum?

Lori Zimbardi said...

Couldn't wait to hear how the party went. I'm glad it went well. How about a twitpic or two of the event? The book is amazing.