Photos: Lingaraj G J (cars), Horia Varlan (landscape); Art Direction: The Magazine of Yoga
Bodies and Voices
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG
At a time in the morning when I would have been better off folding and unfolding myself in Sun Salutations, I was driving south on a rain-drenched road, cursing the school bus six cars ahead that kept slowing me down. It was 8:17 a.m., and I was presenting a workshop on “Writing, Mortality and Transformative Language Arts” to a room full of physicians and writers in 13 minutes. While I only had about 10 more minutes between me and the parking garage beside the giant steel and glass building where I was speaking, I was already in full worry mode: worrying about the last minute’s mad dash, and how anxious I would feel then.
That’s right: I actually worried about being worried.
Anticipatory anxiety, anyone?
I’m sure my face scrunches up at such moments just like Alfred E. Newman from the Mad Magazines of my childhood. No wonder I end up, a few hours after such stints, with headaches, having successfully driven myself into suffering for no real reason. This morning, however, I had just enough awareness to say to myself, “Caryn, why are you worrying about worrying? Isn’t there another way?”
And I had just the right mixture of caffeine and fatigue to answer, “Yes, breathe and look where you are.”
I inhaled slowly, stopping in the long line of stopped cars while some child up ahead slowly ambled onto the bus. I shook my head at my crazy thought to try to illegally pass six cars and a school bus and noticed I was surrounded by sloping land, hills descending on my right toward the Iowa river, and rising on my left into ridges with bare tree edging toward blossom. The rain brought out the deep color of everything: the cherry blossoms of a single tree along someone’s driveway, the ecstatic red of the brake lights of the white van in front of me, the gray-silver of the river, and even the scratched-up maroon hood of of my own minivan.
A vital opportunity to love my life
It’s no surprise to realize that this moment, right here sprawled in slow motion before us, is real life. This pause in the day, this slow moving again, eventually galloping to 35 mph to flow down the hill and into the valley that leads to the parking garage, is actually a vital opportunity to love my life. As for the worry in question, it occurred to my racing reptile brain that if I’m late, I’m late. People may be looking around, confused; some may have left for greener pastures of another workshop. In either case, it’s not a big deal or even a deal.
In the end, I stepped into the room at 8:29 a.m., smiled at everyone, and started passing out materials. Over the next forty minutes, several more people joined us, even a surgeon who dropped in half-way through the 90-minute workshop. I was glad she could make it, and so was she. As I talked to the participants about how we can enter into the moment right here, given to us no matter what the next moment brings, through using writing to arrive where we already are, I winked at my inner Alfred E. Newman, exhaled and landed in the present.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.