“Fear is a deeply ancient instinct, in other words, an evolutionarily vital one… but it ain’t especially smart.” – Elizabeth Gilbert from Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
This post will be different.
Maybe it’s the culmination of having finally cracked open the book Big Magic and reading the chapter on conquering fear, the feeling that 2016 will be a big year of new and exciting (and ok maybe scary) changes, and my cat getting a not-so-great prognosis on some health test results but I can’t help but feel like I need to share something more personal here.
They won’t all be like this, but I hope to use this space more often to be open, and vulnerable and honest. If not for you, dear reader, then for me.
Here’s what happened.
Today my cat Cello, who for all intents and purposes, is the closest thing I have to my own flesh and blood – got some test results back from the vet. They diagnosis isn't good, but we expected as much. The condition is untreatable and the prognosis almost certainly means a shorter lifespan and the risk of sudden death. Getting these results after several weeks of not knowing was relieving and devastating all at once. I skimmed through the information from the vet while still at the office (probably a mistake) and I had to stop myself short of curling into a ball, melting in a puddle of tears.
I felt the urge to be on my yoga mat.
Hours later, at home, I threw on my comfy clothes, cranked up the tunes and rolled out my mat. Don’t get me wrong; I was tempted to avoid it all together. Netflix, dinner, the mindless internet browse – all of these things called for my attention. Rather, my distraction.
No, not today. I knew my mat was where I needed to be.
Cello typically frequents my home practice. He coasts into the room, brushes against my face or my feet or my belly and then usually he saunters off, disinterested. Not today. Today, he stayed. Close. He moved about as I flowed, stretched, twisted and balanced. When I came to the floor and into a seated forward fold, we played. For a good five minutes. Now, this is interesting for two reasons:
Cello played like the most well behaved cat in the world. I weaved my fingers around the legs of the table in front of me, a sort of hide-and-seek, and he rolled around, excitedly pawing at my fingers (without exercising the use of his claws) and nibbling at my hand (without biting down with his teeth). What a good boy.
I (usually) hate forward folds. Ok hate is a strong word but, really, it is one of my least favourite poses. Likely because I find it to be one of the most challenging and despite years of practice I never seem to get any closer to actually folding over my legs. Instead, I sit awkwardly, pretending to ignore the immobility of my spine. But today and to my surprise, as Cello and I played, I sat there folded comfortably, happily, and for a good five minutes! It felt great, almost effortless and inherently natural.
I was tempted to google “what is the Moon doing right now because I can suddenly touch my toes and my cat is being weirdly intelligent.” Instead, I lay back into savasana (after an equally surprising plow pose) and tears poured from my eyes. Cello curled in beside me and hung around as I wrote this blog post.
I don’t know what happened on my mat today (or, um in the universe?), but I don’t need to know. I feel what happened and accept it for exactly what it was, as it was. It was exactly what I needed.
And so was this post. In the same way I heeded the call to step on my mat, I am responding to a feeling that I should share this story here. I hope to share more of my personal experiences with you as this blog evolves. Actually, I will.