Facts (and Snow) on the Ground

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Last week I intended take a morning Yoga with Mind Body Dancer® class at Steps on Broadway. I woke up early, packed up for the day, and set out into the snowy morning with a skip in my step.  Unlike a majority of New Yorkers, it seems, the sight of falling snow instantly lifts my spirits. “How lucky I am,” I thought, “to live in this amazing city and spend a wintry morning doing yoga.”

However, it quickly became apparent that my joyful winter wonderland had other plans for New York’s public transportation system.  After a 50-minute commute to Times Square from Queens, a trip that normally takes me only slightly over 20 minutes, I knew that I was pushing it to expect that the uptown 2 train would get me to 72nd St in less than 7 minutes. But after being stalled underground between stops and having to switch trains due to a sick passenger, I just really, really wanted to get to yoga that morning, you know? My heart was set on it, so I hopped on the express train and prayed for it to go fast.

As the subway approached 72nd, I looked at my watch and saw the looming numbers – 10:01am. “Argh! I’m so close!,” I thought. I leapt out of the doors as soon as they opened, hurled myself up the stairs and through the turnstile, and then, I just started running. As in, for real, honest-to-goodness running through the snow and the slush with my backpack bopping up and down on my back, slipping and sliding past pedestrians along the sidewalk.

I hurtled past the Christmas tree vendor, the fruit vendor, and the book vendor, getting so close to my final destination, and then…I just started laughing. The irony of acting like a crazed, anxious madwoman just because I HAD to get to yoga, a typically calming activity, was just too much to keep in. Giggling to myself, I slowed to a walk and glanced at my watch to confirm my absolute, definite lateness and inability to check in, change my clothes, and set up my mat in time to practice. I stood still for a moment, unsure if I should keep walking while I mentally rearranged my plans for the day. The snow fell down softly around me, blanketing even a busy New York City street with that special quiet that only snow can bring. I took a deep breath and let it out.

As we get closer and closer to the end of 2013, many of us use this time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished in the past year and what we want to do in the next. This is a time of year of extreme abundance for many of us in the form of lavish food, drinks, gifts, and visits from friends and family; it is also a time of extreme loss and scarcity among the homeless, the poor, the grief-stricken, and the lonely. In either scenario, for good or for bad, I think all of us have a tendency to become even more attached to the ideas of the things we want in life but don’t have and certainly aren’t guaranteed. The reality is that some days  you will wake up and get to do what you want to do with the people you want to do it with, but some days obstacles will be thrown in your path that make those desires, however grand or miniscule or loving or petty, impossible.

What if we occasionally let the facts on the ground tell us what our next step should be instead of our internal desires and motives? As we approach the New Year, perhaps we can approach our “resolutions” with flexibility and openness. How can invite more fluidity and more compassion into our practice on and off the mat instead of rigidity and pre-conceived goals?

In a city of generally high-achieving, tightly scheduled, and goal-driven people, the tendency to push harder and harder for the things we want, even when every sign in the universe is pointing us in other direction, is addicting. Sometimes, when we do this it means we are bravely facing adversity with perseverance and passion. Sometimes, it just means we need to calm down, take a breath, and stand for a moment in the snow.

– Katherine Moore

Comments
4 Responses to “Facts (and Snow) on the Ground”
  1. TaraMarie Perri says:

    Katherine, what a wonderful piece! It so perfectly aligns with the season and what is happening with the changes in daylight, sun, and temperatures as we embrace the Winter Solstice. The term Solstice actually means “sun stand still” and I couldn’t help but enjoy the overlap of that concept and the visual of you standing still in the snow to ground your energies. Listening and observing. This time of year is about those two things and you must be still to embrace the wisdom that comes with it…and be willing to act on what comes from that process.

    No matter who explains it or how it is worded or how traditions are celebrated and why, people who cultivate keen connection to their environments know when there is a shift this time of year. It is in the noticing that brings wisdom of mindful adjustments that must be made…we are in a time of a deep shift and a new beginning the cycle of the sun (it is in its infancy yet again). Your journey to yoga that morning demonstrates that you are “tuned in!”

    I loved that the piece you wrote aligned so nicely with the work of the season. We can all learn a lesson from it and bookmark it when we need to be reminded again during the season ahead. Happy Winter, everyone!

  2. Brandi-lea Harris says:

    I love this piece Katherine! It reminds me of the many mornings that I sit stewing on the subway, anxious to arrive, knowing that I will be late. There is always this moment of possible surrender and a feeling of freedom in the thought, I could just stop, right now. I love that! Even, when it means missing the class or the thing we think we should be doing. I’m trying to get better at tuning in to that feeling and allowing myself to make the choice to stop sometimes. It’s hard to do, we’re taught to keep going, trudge through -that it’s a part of preserving – but I think it may be about making the choice, or maybe even just noticing there is a choice.

  3. Gwen Gussman says:

    Joining in with TaraMarie and Brandi, I love this piece as well! Not only can I completely relate to the feeling, but the way you describe the irony of the whole situation, is so fitting. In the last paragraph you write about the tendency we have to push harder avoiding all the universal signs pointing in another direction- this is something that I have been thinking alot about this winter. I am doing a self study of asking myself to open up about what it is that I want, as well as the paradox of detaching somewhat from these ideals and goals. Through this I am feeling more at ease and accepting more of the natural fluidity of how life plays out. 🙂 thank you for this inspiring post!

  4. Jonathan Matthews says:

    That great irony is a feeling I’m sure we in the city have all been experiencing a lot of lately. You’re so spot on, though…the times when I don’t make it to my engagements on time it’s amazing how my mind begins convincing me that I just wasted those minutes of my life…that I subway swiped in vain…that my whole day is compromised and meaningless because I didn’t go to some appointment on my to do list. It’s also funny when I have this MUST GET THERE panic and DO make it wherever I’m going, as my stress response takes so long to calm the hell down I can’t even make the best of what I originally intended to do…as if, in actuality, my day would be MORE meaningful if I just never made it to wherever I was going…in ALL actuality, however, it’s not about meaning or lack thereof at all…it’s that stillness and openness about which you’ve written so beautifully….getting past the absurdity that if I don’t make it to a class at Steps in time, there is NOTHING else in that neighborhood I can explore and discover something new in.

    What’s more is the situation in which the universe is pointing us in a direction that we oppose. The very act of consciously turning away from “signs” or what have you suggests that we take in or already have within us more than we think we do at the same time when we are pining to be more observant. I’m finding at the moment that most of what I perceive to be external signs are constructs of my mind that are perhaps prompted or inspired by a coincidental juxtaposition of images and thoughts…that deep down something within me has the wisdom all along to go on the more exploratory path…the next step being to say yes…or, at the very least, to choose to make a choice

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