Most of us are playing the hand we’ve been dealt in life to the best of our ability. We have a starting point, a direction, and we move forward in a steady, generally upward moving way. Life gains and improvements come through time and effort, and we can pretty much expect things to go along this way. Or can we?
The above paragraph is what most people who have some kind of major blow to their world probably thought, before the blow happened. Those of us facing those drastic changes in the road we thought was laid out before us, suddenly come to a point of having to reconcile with the unexpected.
In the last year and a half, two aspects to my career have taken a major turn for the worst. First my business suffered a major blow when the building I had invested six and a half years in with my yoga studio got sold to an uncaring greedy dude, who decided he didn’t care if the existing tenants (the very one’s who made the neighborhood, cool and more desirable) stayed or left. He raised the rent by a whopping 65%, and in doing so, completely eliminated my already modest profit margin. He made my business change from something that I earned my modest income from, into something that instead, cost me money to keep open.
The second was my hip decided to disintegrate. After a lifetime of stretching, dancing, and being over flexible, the pieces that hold it together began to wear down, and fail. The result is daily pain, and the inability to practice and teach the way I used to. This was a major shocker. I never thought something like that would happen to me at such a young age.
I have spent my fair share of time, feeling deep sadness and helplessness about these two huge obstacles that have colored my world un-ignorably. The grief is real, and justified. It is a color in and of itself. And that color is now part of the canvas that is my life’s story.
What doesn’t work is to let the color dominate and turn the whole picture black (which I allowed to be the case for a certain period of time). Just as it doesn’t work to ignore the color and try to focus only on the lighter happier colors in the picture.
Pretending these issues are not there, is delusional. Imagining that I can be heroically strong and overcome these issues lays an expectation to be in a constant state of fortification and intense drive, which both may not change the circumstance, and is also unrealistic.
So my approach this month is inspired by something I saw on a hike this year. There’s a tree that someone at some point put a sign on I don’t even remember what the sign says it’s probably something about the direction of the hike. It’s a metal sign about the size of a license plate. It doesn’t belong on the tree, the tree did not plan or expect it. And we’ll never know if trees feel pain, so it is possible, this constant nail in its side feels like a persistent injury.
What did the tree do? It enfolded the sign into itself. It wrapped it’s bark around the plate like a rounded edged frame. Like a mother holding her child. It didn’t push it out, it’s didn’t try to avoid it, by just growing, in the opposite direction. I remember being struck by this mergence, this incorporation of one into the other. It seemed to me, to be very beautiful, even if it looked quite odd, and unexpected.
The truth in beauty isn’t about having no corners or edges to bump up against. The journey of life is in the response to that which we didn’t expect. It’s in the echo that bounces off of the wall that is caging you in. It’s in the dance you create in the space that you do have. It’s in the taking in, even the worst thing, and making it your own. Making it part of your story, instead of the thing that your story is fighting against. All I can do is not let these unexpected forces dismantle the beauty that is my story.
The uniqueness alone of each of our wrapped around blemishes, is the only truth there is.
This isn't a story of heroic empowerment. I'm not under some delusion that I can make these events turn somehow in the opposite direction, and will them into being blessings in disguise. All I can do is what the tree did. Wrap around.