The end of a glorious day at Hapuna Beach in Hawaii.
The art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss. –Rebecca Solnit
“Letting go is easy,” one of my meditation teachers once said.
He sat in front of a group of us who had gathered for the weekly dharma night teaching and pulled his keys out of his pocket. He held them for a brief second and then dropped them to the floor. “See,” he said. “It’s just like that.”
Just like what? It’s not that easy, I thought.
He did this over and over again – reaching, holding, dropping, reaching, holding, dropping …
It clearly took some effort for this elderly man to continually reach to the ground. His movements were awkward and uncomfortable.
Well, this is embarrassing, I remember thinking.
What is he doing?
Last week I led a flash mob on a BART Train.
Heading to San Francisco.
On the long stretch when the train dives under the Bay.
I asked riders and friends to shake their arms and legs.
To take deep breaths followed by long sighs.
To tap dance down the aisle between the seats, and to move their bodies slow and smooth like the seaweed floating on the waves in the Bay above our heads.
This train where we often cram in, press to strangers arms and legs, but carefully avoid each other’s eyes.
Where I plug in, head down, legs crossed, arms folded and pray no one sits next to me.
What would happen by opening up in this way?
I practiced what I might say. There would be no room for timidity. The train is loud. Alone in my living room, I yelled, trying and discarding tones and words like blouses on a dressing room floor. Which would cloak me in confidence?
My body and I have not always been on the best of terms. For most of my life, ignoring the anxiety, fear and self-doubt that I faced in my day-to-day was a second full-time job. I constantly looked to my colleagues to determine which face to put forward in different settings. Work meeting? That’s confident, decisive Kelsey. Party? That’s friendly, open Kelsey. I became so adept at being the person I thought I was supposed to be, that I forgot who I really was. The anxiety, doubt and insecurity continued but I Hulu’d and Facebook’d these feelings away. I thought I was the problem. Everyone else seemed successful, confident and happy. If I tried harder, did the things they did, wore the right clothes, said the “cleverest” things, I would be happy too. Right? Wrong.
Head-to-head with my constant companion
Grace lead me to a meditation practice. The first time I landed on the cushion, I encountered so much anxiety that I could not sit in the open, hands-on-thighs posture that was prescribed. Instead, what felt “safe” was to fold my arms across my chest and sit in a kind of hunched, protected fashion. There was much awareness that I was doing it “wrong” and, for a girl who’d spent much time imitating others, standing out in this way was painful, but I couldn’t help myself. After 5 minutes, I jumped up ready to do anything else. That was enough of that.
As I write this Nicki Minaj’s Feeling Myself is playing through my brainwaves.
I’ve been workin’ on my bounce friends.
It’s been the only way to be with all the ‘muchness’ this year has uncovered. My bounce is where I celebrate and where I lament. It is the place I come to drop out of my head and simply be in the moment, in the feeling.
O.k. I’m going to do something brave.
Something I would have never done before I shaved my head, launched a blog and decided to not let fear dictate my decisions.
I will let you in on one of my secret life joys.
Secret life joy?
Yes, we all have them. These are the things we love but only feel free to indulge in when no one is around to judge, sneer or laugh—because that’s surely what they’d do.
Rapping when your rhymes don’t exactly flow at times; feeling the warmth, curves and squishes places of your body and liking it; really enjoying something delicious (preferably eaten with your hands)—these all fit the bill.
Our secret life joys often happen behind closed doors and we rarely talk about them.
Well today, with a blush, I open that door: