Some years ago I was on a night flight into the Gulf of Mexico when my plane was struck by lightning.
I thought I saw it coming. I was resting in the window seat when I suddenly noticed that a strike of blinding light came out of the dark and hit the wing. Or perhaps I imagined it? Either way, the lights flickered, the plane jerked, and the pilot came on the loudspeaker:
“Folks, we’ve just been hit by lightning and so I’m going to bring the plane down at the next opportunity.”
At least he said he was going to bring the plane down, as opposed to it just going down.
We don’t always see it coming when turbulence strikes. One minute we are riding high. The next, kaboom. Somebody’s bringing our plane down.
There’s been a lot of turbulence lately. Last year, for example, I had some of the biggest ups, and some of the lowest lows, ever.
I won’t bore you with the upside. In my opinion, people who go on and on about their success should be shot in some kind of yogic, painless, euthanasia kind of way. (Ditto for those who talk about how good their relationships are. Show me a perfect relationship, and I will show one in which someone had a lobotomy.)
On the downside, the internet commenters actually drove me out of writing my weekly column for elephant journal for three months. I was accused of hating women, old people, young people, gay people, stoned people and yoga, to name a few. I had a stalker who almost went to jail. I lost a lot of work opportunities as well.
But I did not lose friends. I lost the people who said they were friends, but were not, and now I know the difference.
I believe with all my heart, most of these haters had good intentions (except for one or two who were just bat-shit crazy). I think that because they didn’t get my sense of humor, and because of my tendency to pull the Band-Aid off the baloney, they were afraid I was destroying yoga.
But there is one thing I learned from the turbulence:
“Nothing really changes. Now we just know more.”
This is my theory: There is always turbulence. It is in the sky and in our lives. People we love may also break our heart. When lightning strikes, it reveals what we knew, or didn’t want to know, to be true.
I know now that the lightning came into my life to let me see more clearly. I think everyone gets my sense of humor. Um, not true. I also think that others would encourage an older yogi who became successful later in life. Hoo baby, so not true. There are quite a few yogis guarding their cheese in this world.
Turbulence was a way for the Universe to pull the curtain back so I could see who was in my corner. I am not surprised by who turned against me, but by who stayed by my side. I was deeply touched. Studio owners, yoga teachers, editors, sponsors and friends: I know who you are, every single one of you. And I will never forget your kindness, faith and loyalty.
Much of the time we are flying unaware, or in the dark, so being hit by lightning is a blessing. It wakes us up.
I’m not going to start writing about fluffy unicorns to make my critics happy. I can’t take yoga that seriously! I will always stand strong and laugh my way to enlightenment. But I will take more care to answer the commentators in a thoughtful way; even the ones I think might be high on Lulu-Luon.
This is what I learned from turbulence: it’s a blessing. I try to live my life authentic and open, but if I’m hit by lightning, I will pull back. I want to be the one to land my plane, so to speak, because, now that I know more, I am more careful about flying in the dark.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum