“You’ll have to wait and see,” he said.
My dad and I had been sitting on the porch, me asking him endless questions about how he thought my life was going to turn out, and he not giving me the answers I wanted to hear. He never does, never did. Just not his way.
I really was not a fan of that sentence, having heard it throughout my entire childhood. I was a little girl who had thing for knowing her own future. What are we going to do? Where are we going? How? When? Why?
“You have a lot of wait and sees left,” he said. “You better get used to it.”
Frustrated and still unanswered, I had to smile back. It was as though our old father-daughter code was surfacing through the brain injury years. Proof that sometimes he still got me—my need to chase fun, race towards the next thing, worry about what has yet to come. And, in that moment, he knew precisely what to say to make me shut up. Shut up so I could slow down, slow down, and bring myself back to living in the present.
Just like Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, which slows me down, centers me, and stops my brain from hurdling into the future. The pose where you take time to ground your feet, move your thigh bones back in space, lift your heart, spread your collar bones, chin comes parallel, energy rises—we all know the cues, cues that will slide you right into the present moment.
The more yoga my dad practices, the more his patience evolves. I see it in his Tadasana. He takes his time. He’s memorized the cues. When we start class I say nothing, but watch as he moves his body in space as if he could hear my words, one cue after the other. His prayer palms fold together last.
But they don’t fold together like mine do, and when I look at his hands, I want to flatten out his mangled and mismatched fingers and push them together, so that his prayer palms look like my own where each finger pad meets the other and my elbows jut perfectly away from my midline.
I take a breath. I can’t do that. This is my father’s Tadasana. So we stand there together, my hands effortlessly slapped together, and I have to wonder which one of us is standing there asking, “where are we going next?”
It’s not him.
Janna Leyde: I’m a yoga teacher in Brooklyn. I am currently working on publishing my first novel and also creating a place where yoga and brain injury professionally meet. Concerning the latter, I am certain that a yoga practice will not only help survivors of traumatic brain injury, but also their families. As I practice with my father (a brain injury survivor) my family and I are learning that yoga not only helps his mobility, but also his mind.
Editor: Anne Clendening
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