For most of my life, my dream had been to cliff-dive in Jamaica.
I’d read about it in a book when I was a kid and had since become mildly obsessed with the idea. So, last June I was in Jamaica and I got my chance. Into the water my legs stung. I didn’t go in straight. I went in on my knees. I rubbed them and laid on my back in the water. Opened my eyes and saw the moon, whom I thanked. And as I remember it, it was the most beautiful moon I have ever seen.
I realized that in that moment I had done it.
My friend John said to me, “Childhood dream realized, huh?” I laughed to myself that my list was so short. That there was nothing else that meant as much to me as this one thing had. That from now on, it would be adventures born in the moment. No places I have to see, no things I have to do. Just living in stride. I decided that was the greatest gift my jump gave me.
It gave me right now.
Later on, someone I loved and let go would say to me, “I can’t believe you would be so reckless,” and I would respond with full laughter living in full knowledge that I would, and will, do it again. I did it because it scared me, and I couldn’t live with myself otherwise. Chasing bravery and all but lacking gumption, I settled for audacity and I jumped. “Could you imagine,” I thought as I stood on the edge of the cliff debating, “looking back and wishing you had?” The thought was unbearable, I had to jump just to get away from it.
Staring back up at the rocky terrain, I saw all the nervousness I left behind. I ignored it in favor of the moonlight.
I revisit that moment often, but most recently I was there in yoga. I found myself in tree pose yesterday, and as I lifted my arms, I thought of the moon. The spectacular moon as seen from the bed of the Caribbean Sea. I realized at that moment that it was strange. “Don’t most people think of the sun rising, not the moon?” I finished my yoga practice and went about my day of running errands and averting crisis with friends.
I would find myself later mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest when I came across a quote that said, “The sun sees your body, the moon sees your soul.” I smiled because perhaps that was exactly it. In tree pose, locked into the alignment of the pose thinking about the moon, I felt seen—and not just physically. It was the same feeling of being in the water.
There, here, then and now there is recognition of my being. I am exist in this moment and I do because you See me.
Thinking back, it was what kept me from working out for a long time. Not wanting to be seen. And quite honestly, feeling that no one wanted to see me. Women in yoga ads are svelte and toned and young and white. I am none of those things, well—except young and that’s arguable in some circles. It was reinforced every time I searched for
visual inspiration to motivate myself that I had no place here.
My world and my thinking was too much sun, too much about body and not soul. But, though my body has gained and grown, I have become deeply settled into my self, rooted like my tree pose. Resilient and enduring, but most of all balanced; it is not solely about sun, body, but it it also about the moon and my soul. If I can bring my soul to the light, my body pales in comparison. I am so much more than my physical self.
And yet, I cannot ignore it. I cannot neglect it, I must revere it also.
I have made some peace with myself and I have sought out other women who have seemingly done the same. I search “fat yoga” hashtags on Pinterest and Tumblr to see who I can find and I share those images because they belong in this space; I belong in this space. I want them to know I see them.
Cliff-diving will always be extremely special for me. And so will tree pose, because, for me, the two are kindred spirits.
Maybe because like the sun and moon we rise and fall; embraced as it is here in San Diego by the infinite oceanic horizon, the two meet water and can lay on their backs and revere the other. But not before feeling the magnificent freedom of owning the sky.
Maybe that’s all we are: sun and moon…ocean and tree.
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Image: Jessica Williams