I stumbled into yoga sometime around 15 – 20 years ago. My practice was guided almost exclusively by televised workout programs for those first few years, and then I took some classes, read some books, took more classes, and read more books. The only shortcoming of my life as a yogi has been my consistency: I might practice for a few years regularly, and then go on an unintentional hiatus for a few more. I even received a YOGA for Youth certification a few years ago, that has never actually come up as a teacher.
A staple of what I’ve learned throughout my practice is that practice alone isn’t what interests me: I’m also fascinated by the philosophy, and more than mere intrigue, I feel genuine attachment to it. Not to say it fills in the blanks of Jewish belief, but at times it seems to, and at other times it shines new light upon familiar scripture. The practice of Yoga, not merely the fitness of it, has persisted even when my exercise has not.
And when I finished reading the Sefer Yetzirah, a cornerstone of Jewish mystical thought, it seemed only natural to focus my gaze upon a cornerstone of the Yogic tradition: the Bhagavad Gita.
Yesterday I began reflecting on some recent challenges in my relationship with Harel, and it’s a topic I’d like to return to. I feel it’s worth mentioning that although I can’t describe exactly what’s going on without breaching Harel’s trust and confidence in me (he has not said if I may share what’s going on), the general motion is that the circumstances within which our lives are suspended have shifted, and despite no change in our love for each other, it’s unclear if a long-distance relationship can be sustained in the way these new situations would require.
It is, ultimately, an ongoing process we’re both trying to figure out.
So while this post won’t, and can’t, address the details of what we’re going through (and ultimately, I’m not sure I’ll discuss those details publicly, even with Harel’s consent), what I wish to return to is a discussion the strategies I’m using to get through it all.
Because after two years of being engaged, news like this isn’t easy to digest.
Chaos is not disorder. Chaos is order so precise and sensitive that the slightest misstep at the start sends us far from where we intended to be.
Water is, as it tumbles over rocks and flows between our fingers, a creature of chaos. And so is life.
We drift along, pulled between rapids and brief moments of pause, seconds of tranquility that split time into austere fractions that enclose us and confine us. Solutions (and the problems they supposedly solve) seem suddenly clear, and then the water draws us away, and once more we are left without recourse and direction.
Let me tell you a secret: After my bar-mitzvah (the ceremonial step from childhood into adulthood for young Jewish men), I was convinced that I had learned everything Judaism had to offer. I could read Hebrew, lead the prayers; I knew Torah stories, could even offer some midrash (commentary). So, I said, my journey in Judaism is complete.
I pursued spiritual fulfillment from other traditions, and I ultimately settled into Paganism, and Wicca in particular, for about three or four years.
Then, well, then I was Jewish again. Let me explain.
Funny story: So Yom Kippur is perhaps the most somber and important day of the Jewish year; it’s the Sabbath of Sabbaths, the Day of Atonement, the day our names our sealed in the Book of Life for one more year.
And Yom Kippur is tomorrow.
But my calendar (don’t trust calendars) implied it began last night, so I began fasting, trying to think of Yom Kippur things, and then I realized, today isn’t even Yom Kippur.
It’s been no secret my summer is unusually short this year, and as such, it’s been no secret how hard I’ve had to push myself to complete not only my manageable goals for the year but also my stretch goals for the summer.
Although it’s hard to realize (and harder to say), this is my last monthly goal report before my summer shrivels up and leaves me in the midst of an extraordinarily busy semester.
I’ve been going to the gym lately. I’ve been building bridges lately. Partly it’s a pun, an allusion to my finally being able to do the asana (yoga pose) known as the bridge, which I’ve been practicing since the spring if not since many years before then, and partly it’s an affirmation of the number of connections I’ve been making lately.
So there I was, sitting beside the lake, sitting at one of the picnic tables eating my packed lunch, when along came a spider. It was a small one, so small I could barely make out all eight of its tiny legs without wanting for a magnifying glass, and it was just…there. It stayed almost stationary for a long while, crawling a little bit forward here or there, or just wiggling its legs around in the afternoon sun.
For as long as I can recall, I haven’t liked spiders. I’m not a clinical arachnophobe, but on occasion–typically at the site of a spider–I imagine I might as well could be. And yet, sitting there, watching the little guy go by, there was an absence of fear whose presence I never noticed: Things felt like they should be, and for a moment, as for many more lately, things just felt right.