Words from April 2011
I do it for the joy it brings because I’m a joyful girl
Because the world owes me nothing and we owe each other the world
I do it because it’s the least I can do
I do it because I learned it from you
I do it just because I want to, because I want to
~ Joyful Girl, Ani Difranco
Wow. I just quoted Ani Di Franco. Put aside all yoga-related clichés, this song still puts a lump in my throat. It’s my newest and oldest favorite that arrived in the shuffle of my ipod this evening, song # 567. It was well worth the wait.
Read on, you’ll get where I’m going with this. Otherwise skip five paragraphs.
Today I said goodbye to a friend and fellow teacher Jess Kamell. She’s moving to Australia for who knows how long. We dropped her off late in the afternoon in Vancouver at a random hotel along Burrard. It was raining. Insert Dramatic Pathos. Perfect. Her blonde hair and suitcases walked away from us. She cried. We cried. I’m sure a Bon Iver song could have played in the sky above our heads, that is, if God/Buddha/Allah were to press play. I hate goodbyes but I’ve become better at them since I’ve taken up life as a yoga vagabond.
Rewind ten hours prior. We skied together in the a.m (as in, one-run-just-for-the-hell-of it-before-she-leaves-Canada-forever kind of thing). It was a gondola ride to the Crystal Hut and stale banana bread for breakfast (even though the waffles would have been a better option). We left feeling slightly ill. The mountain was empty. She led the way through the trees and I followed. She fell a few times and squealed. We did figure eights (just because) during our last zip down Blackcomb’s corduroy.
One run. Home. Car. Luggage. Passport. Highway 99.
Goodbye Whistler. More Fog. More Rain.
She wore her Paris Hilton sunglasses in the back seat while I sat shotgun and our friend Elana drove. We listened to The Roots. She made peace with the rain even though she really wanted to see the sun, the last of B.C’s beautiful face. I get it. We stopped at the Galliano Coffee Co. Americanos times three. (Check out what’s hanging by the doorway if you’re ever there. Jess discovered some kid’s Home Ec 101 wood carving project that reads, Namaste). “Hey look!” Jess pointed while exiting.
Thumbs up. Picture. Check.
Lolly gagging + unnecessary road stops + tourist behaviour with camera = us missing a 2 p.m teacher’s practice we were scheduled to attend with Sadie Nardini. Don’t tell. Friendship trumps yoga rock stars. Sadie probably would agree.
West Van. Turned Right on Marine. We treated ourselves to a pedicure/manicure because that’s what girl yoga teachers do. (Note: we do this for viewing and hygienic purposes, not out of princess-like vanity. Be honest – a teacher with yellow talons and dirty digits would gross you out).
Socks off. Massage chairs. Feet in hot water. Amazing. No one but the three of us and the lovely staff. Door opens.Hello Kitty bell jingles. In walks a woman my mom’s age. Raincoat. Tall. Burberry purse. Sweet smile. I said hello to her in the grip of my massage chair and smiled. We got to talkin’. A ten minute synapse of her words: “Restaurant…down the road from here…crab tower is magnificent…you girls should go….where you from? Oh lovely, I own condo in Whistler… Yoga teachers, huh? I do yoga….I used to have blonde hair. I just finished my third round of chemo. Chemo turned my hair black and straight. Lymphoma. And Breast Cancer. You should really check out the crab cakes. How did I get through it? Friends and family. They gave me hope.”
Every morning the sun rises. A massive ball of fire, of spherical perfection and hot bright plasma floats in the middle of our solar system. It knows when to rise and fall and it does so regardless if we tell it to or not. Tomorrow morning, roll out of bed and stare at it. It’s so bright it’ll hurt your eyes and its genius proportions and miraculous properties are still there and will always be there, even if you forget about them. It will warm your spirit if you let it.
And don’t get me started on the moon. Or the ocean.
Give someone the gift of your eyes, ears and full attention for ten minutes, your awareness and listen. And I mean really listen. There are tales of Hope and light around you on the foggiest of days. I almost didn’t listen to her. But I did. You may just meet a survivor. A hero. And they may just remind you not only of the Hope and the strength that keeps our world spinning, but may remind you of Hope’s axis point: the intangible web and workings of Fate and all things good. The answer isn’t always on your sticky mat or in a yoga teacher’s morning invocation.
She use to have blonde hair but now it’s black? Life is strange. Her tale gave me Hope.
Ironically its potency and availability is at its highest point during the most plunging points: Disappointment. Betrayal. Sadness. People die. Heartbreak happens. Incomprehensible acts of evil occur. The earth shakes. Rogue waves eat the land and nuclear power plants combust. I’m not going to blow smoke up your ass and tell you otherwise.
You may feel hopeless today but I promise it won’t last forever. Like a good friend in a busy airport you sometimes have to look for it. Promise me you’ll look for it.
Some days it’s as apparent as today’s fog, other days it slips and stings like the vile eels in the Princess Bride that almost attacked the Princess until she was saved by Andre the Giant.
In the business of yoga there is one thing I truly know, deeply and intimately to the depth of my soul, that the greatest gift you can give anyone is Hope, through words/your eyes/your ears/your kindness.
During my days of teaching in HK at Pure, Pat would blast over the speakers what I think on a subconscious level was our theme song, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Hope. We didn’t realize it at the time, but I think it is what fuelled us (Yoga Teacher’s Universally are nodding) to practice and teach.
I am Hopeful for humanity. I am Hopeful for Jess’s new adventure. I Hope my nephew doesn’t get bummed out in school on Monday when his arch nemesis picks on him. I Hope that one day I pay off my student loan. I Hope my family and friends stay happy and healthy. I Hope my friend Browner gets out of his wheelchair soon. I Hope we figure out a new way to fuel our planet. I Hope the woman who sat next to me comes to Whistler and takes my class. I Hope she keeps her hope close to her. I Hope for those who feel Hopeless in Japan. I Hope Elana remembers our peaceful drive home. I Hope my dad beats Parkinson’s ass. I Hope someone Hopeless reads this because I’m Hopeful that they won’t feel Hopeless anymore. I Hope my cousin’s husband conquers cancer. I Hope I learn how to speak Spanish and surf this year. I am Hopeful for humanity. I Hope my mom’s best friend from grade school, Hope, realizes how cool of a name her mom gave her. Hope. It’s a good name. Maybe if I ever have one of those children creatures one day, I’ll name her Hope. Or Asha in Sanskrit. I Hope everyone realizes that there is way more to this world than what we see. I Hope for the naysayers of our world that they wake up. And I Hope that I always realign with Hope when I drop back to old habits and naysaying attitudes.
I Hope to always remember how Hope is Love’s first cousin and Fear’s antithesis.
Julia McCabe has been teaching and practicing yoga since 2001, with her beginnings at Neoalpine/YYoga in Whistler, B.C, Canada. She has taught at Pure Yoga, Hong Kong, assisted and taught with renegade yogi, Patrick Creelman (Anusara), studied in Thailand with Paul Dallaghan as well as with Sri Tiwari Ji – the kind grandfather, pranayama master and teacher of teachers. Her other influences include her mom, dad and sister, all school teachers and some of the best. Good friends and fellow teachers, Kristin Campbell, her Whistler sister and Paige Faraci who took her under her graceful wing in Asia. Ana Forrest, Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, Carlos Pomeda, John Friend and many others in the Vancouver community have also been powerful forces for Julia. It is difficult for her to pledge her devotion to only one guru or school as there are so many that she respects and continues to learn from. The bigger the palette, the more colors to choose from, is Julia’s theory. Julia currently lives in Whistler, BC, teaching at YYoga/Neoalpine and Whistler’s Core. She holds workshops and teacher trainings year round and is also deep in the throes of writing a book about her experiences living and teaching in Asia. Julia is currently accepting applications for her 2012, 200 hour Yoga Alliance immersions in the art and science of yoga: March 1-41, Whistler, BC; May 12-June 2, Mexico; October 15-November 5, Nicaragua.