The Current of Change

Some Thursdays, I sit down to write, but my mind is as blank as the white screen. Looking from blinking cursor to out the living room picture window and back again, I think: There’s nothing to say. I have nothing to say. Nothing has happened.  

But everything has happened, yes? The little moments of life have marched on, spilling over, adding up into hours, days, a week. The grass has grown. The oak leaves are greener. A delicate yellow butterfly dances over the deep pink roses that bloomed from yesterday’s buds.
I haven’t changed, though,” I think to myself. I look down at the floor, absorbed by thoughts, my gaze, inadvertently, taking in my hands and legs. All the same.

But what naivety. What ego. What blindness. Nothing – not you, not me – is impervious to the power of change. Though undoubtedly perceptible through the vast collection of time, imperceptible change inches along with every move on the clock. It, without fail, during each and every waking and unconscious moment, edges us forward in ways slight and unnoticed. Quietly shaping our worldly and subtle bodies. Silently shifting our life experience.
It is easy to think of change as a swift motion. The sharp thud of a hammer. The blink of an eye. The decided dropping of a gavel. A life-altering judgment, a sentence that occurs without warning. In a tv episode I saw once, a character walks through Central Park, with a friend. It is September or October and the leaves live golden on the trees. She is absorbed by conversation until, suddenly, she looks around and says, astonished, “When did it become fall?”

But there is no single moment it becomes fall. Or spring. Or summer. Or winter. It becomes fall all year long. Tiny changes occur from minute to minute. Life moves on all the time.
Though far below our radar, change flies tirelessly, day and night. Unravels the notion of stability and casts aside the comfort of constancy. Because we are all interconnected – this entire chaotic universe – there is no escaping it, no single living or material thing above change. Like the steady, continuous current of a stream that shapes rocks, we, too, are swept along by its power.

“Nothing has happened,” I repeat to myself with resistance, disbelief.

But, really, everything has.

To Hope or Not to Hope

"What's the best feeling in the world?" my friend asked, her eyes steady over white mango tea.
My brow furrowed as a laundry list ran through my head: love, sadness, melancholy, exuberance. No, no, no, and…no, not right.

“You?” I asked, ever the deflector.

“Love,” she said, almost rolling her eyes in exasperation. Like it was obvious. Like everyone’s choice should be the same. “And you?” she pushed.

“Hmmm…” I stalled. Love, sadness, melancholy, exuberance. Hope.

Hopefulness. The feeling that all will be good, okay, better than expected.

But is hope a yogi’s emotion? By definition, hope leaps out of the present moment. Transports us to a different place. Another time. Asks us for an active forward glance, or, at the very least, a passive longing and wanting—be it ephemeral or eternal.

Hope is anticipatory. Dreaming. Wishing. Reaching. An escape that seems to lift us from the deepest and darkest sufferings. Improves our mood. Gives us reason to rise anew each day. But, if the eight limbs of yoga ask us to surrender to what is—ishvara-pranidhana—is hopefulness really all well and good? Or is it just a fresh coat of lacquer over tired furniture?
When I started writing this, I wished—I had hoped—that the answers lived clearly within me. That they would bubble up, like a spring, by the time these last words found their way to paper. That I would finish this post with something profound and uplifting.
Is it irony that disappointment, hope’s opposition, is welling up instead?

Ishvara-pranidhana. Not hope. Not disappointment. What is.

In the midst of chaos.

It is easy to be swept away into chaos. 

Places to go. 
People to see.
Errands to run.
Chores to do.

Sometimes the busyness of life gets overwhelming, and our demeanor falls prey to it – to all that chaos and randomness. We end up drawing inward. Nodding, absently, through the words of loved ones and friends. Rushing away rather than lending a helping hand. Breezing through our actions without noticing, acknowledging and attempting to lighten the weight of those who share our lives.

There's such an ever-present understanding ingrained in our culture, that each man is out for his own. That self-preservation requires selfishness. Selfishness of things, of time, and, most notably, of our good energy.

But, oh, the power of a smile. Gentleness. Understanding. The power of good energy, that, if shared, has the power to lift and strengthen others. Offer respite from burdens. And provide a spot of bright and calm in an otherwise chaotic world.

“...We can be serene even in the midst of calamities, and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? (136-137)”
Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras

Yoga: Balance and peace.

When balance is sought—in yoga, in breath work, in life—peace is what found. Peace that rises up around us. And also within us. 
It’s easy to shake our heads at this. To careen through life too fast, never finding that middle ground where the harmony of existence lives and breathes and fills the air.

It’s easy to think that this harmony is not for us. That peace eludes us. That our struggles are too many. But, the truth is, balance shows us that peace does not translate to absence of sorrow, strife or difficult times. 

Peace is being in the middle of those things, and, yet, still trusting. Trusting we will find center. Trusting center will find us. Trusting with all our heart.
Inspired by this quote (author unknown). “Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. ”