December 4, 2013

Are We There Yet? ~ Susan Kraft

My husband recently completed the first step of a business deal that represents the potential fulfillment of long cherished hopes.

I was so happy for him and was ready to break out the champagne. “No way,” he said, “not yet. It hasn’t happened and so much could go wrong in the interim.” I sulked and went to yoga class.

It seems to me a common misconception that we should wait until everything is all settled, fixed and certain, before we celebrate. We are afraid to count our chickens until they are hatched. But what about celebrating those beautiful eggs—so perfect and smooth, such a variety of gorgeous colors and shapes? What about celebrating the chicken herself who embodied the divine design that enabled her to lay them?

I remember the celebration when my daughter turned one year old (20 years ago). But what is age one anyway? Is it really the completion of anything? A million things could still go wrong. Why don’t we wait until they are 18 to celebrate? Or 21? Or married? Or are gainfully employed? Or able to retire? Or have finally agreed with us that meditating might be a good idea?

In Pema Chodron’s book, The Wisdom of No Escape, she writes about how students often say that they had long wished to study with her, but explain the delay in beginning to do so on the fact that they were waiting until they were more “together.” In response to this logic, Chodron wryly observes,

“If you’re anything like me, you could wait forever!”

So what are we waiting for? When is that magical time in our lives when we have it all together and can make merry? As far as locating that magical moment, it seems to me, as Gertrude Stein wrote (albeit in a different context),

“There is no there there.”

I talk about this all the time in my teaching: the successful yoga practice is not the one in which you arrive in a perfectly balanced handstand. The yoga worth celebrating is practiced every time that you take your seat to begin, and stick with it through those awkward attempts to just play with what feels impossible, and then onward, through the mindful transitions into the next pose. Finally, above all, in the lying down and letting it all go in savasana (corpse pose). There, it turns out, was here all along.

Shockingly, my husband does not take my yoga class and, as of this writing, he is still not ready to celebrate the fruition of his hard work. I realized however, in that night-of-no-champagne, that my challenge is to celebrate where he is right now. That in-between place. That fertile place of groundless-ness where you really just don’t know.

I hope it is not surprising then, that in answer to the question that most of us have been asking our entire lives,

“Are we there yet?”

I’m going to stick with, “Yes!” But try not to sulk…and still go to yoga class.

Oh, and those lovely little bubbles that rise upward in champagne? Even today, with his dream still in flux, I kind of feel those bubbles lifting my heart.

Who knows? They might just power my handstand.

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Assistant Editor: Meagan Edmondson/Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: courtesy of the author

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Susan Kraft