A girl at work tonight told me she’d never fallen in love, nor did she want to.
She didn’t want to feel heartbreak. She thought she was strong because she built walls around her heart. “I can turn off my feelings,” was the flag she flew proudly from her parapet, right between the banners saying, “I drink to get drunk,” and “God, I need a cigarette.”
How sad, I replied, because the times I loved and felt loved the most were those times I was at my lowest, and had I all the tobacco on the earth I don’t think I could use it to build a mountain out of that hole, so why would I smoke it?
There was a time I didn’t know where my hamstrings were; I’d never really used them. I wasn’t good at sports, and I didn’t stretch. I started yoga and had to bend my knees when seated just to reach my toes. Weeks after weeks, I’d put myself through practice, and there was this really intense teacher on Saturdays, after which each time I’d wind up cursing the man who invented stairs come about Tuesday.
I hated hamstring-opening poses. They reminded me of how flawed I was.
It’s not a big mystery of science—muscles get stronger when worked. Let it rest on a comfy couch for all its life and, like any other muscle, the heart will start to die. Struggle, work, and pain are like rain to a muscle; without them, they wither. I used to think, like this girl, that strength was measured by the stones in my wall rather than the drawings of butterflies and ice skates that people left inside; by the people I kept out rather than those I let in; by the temperature at which I held myself in control.
I used to think that being perfect was the best thing to be.
Perfect means without problem. Perfect means without flaws. Perfect means I don’t need your help.
Well you can take perfect and shove it. Because I got tired of perfect. There’s no art in perfect. Perfect has to be defended, like ramparts, with arrows and spears, and I got tired of staring daggers at anyone who I thought wanted to take away a piece of that wall. And I’m not alone. I’m leaving the fight for a perfect world, because I’m going for a beautiful one instead. And that means I’ll fight for a flawed world, because I’ll fight for a world where people help each other, a world where people draw on each others’ hearts, so every time we see a butterfly, or every time we hear that song, or every time we walk by that ice cream store, it makes us smile because it reminds us of that one boy or girl that one time…even if the store stopped serving ice cream and closed a long, long time ago.
Beautiful doesn’t need a translation, it’s right there in the word: beauty-full.
People don’t need shoes either—but they sure make walking more comfortable. So here are some shoes for beauty:
Towards the end of a six-month yoga teacher training course, I began to feel my fingertips, then later my hands, reach the floor in forward folds. I found myself hugging my legs to my chest in spare minutes and trying to straighten them without putting it into my back, to a point that some of my friends began to think I was a little bit weird. Just last Saturday, in that same class that made me hate the man who invented stairs for weeks and weeks, I was given access to a hamstring-opening pose I’d never been able to do before.
Love is a yoga pose, y’all. If you know someone who says their heart won’t break, it’s because they haven’t stretched it enough. And if you can’t talk about what Bird of Paradise pose feels like until you’ve been in it, how can you talk about love, until you’ve felt that same kind of pain first? And love isn’t some great accomplishment you mark off your checklist either; it’s a strength that continues to develop, until that sore feeling from work goes away and what’s left behind is the meditation and the strength that was earned.
To this day, I continue to work my hamstrings.
To this day, I fight for a beautiful world.
Kevin Macku is a 20-something fledgeling yogi with a love of words. He is a trained actor who occasionally appears in local movies and on stage. His preferred methods of expression are based in movement: Suzuki’s Training for the Classical Actor, Viewpoints and Butoh to name a few, all of which benefit from the practice of yoga. In the midst of a rigorous physical practice, he discovered he was undergoing a spiritual transformation, and began to document the experience. These entries can be found at http://doafy.posterous.com/. Kevin himself can be reached at [email protected].
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta