Thursday, May 16, 2013

This is Paradise

I've spent the last few days on an island yoga retreat. Not the kind where you try to look crazy sexy sweating between sauna, sand, and asana, and then refreshing with a tropical drink, but the kind that reminds you what yoga is. Who you are. Who I am.

Now, to be fair, I have seen dolphins, rays, manatees, sharks, fishes, flounders, frat boys, naked babies building sandcastles, and old couples walking hand in hand on the beach. Each one a thing of beauty (except perhaps the frat boys), but none remarkable enough to write home about (except to say they're not worth writing about). The night before last, I saw the place where the land ends. The sky ends. The world ends.

I stepped out onto the beach sometime past ten o'clock and dug my toes into the white sand. The ocean was so black that it melted into the sky. I think I could have reached out and touched the blackness and it would have absorbed me like a black hole. Instead I tried to focus on where the white sand faded into the blackness of the sea, but I couldn't find the edge of the ocean. It was simply magnificent and impossible to recreate or even describe.

I traveled here on a whim, with a bunch of people I don't know very well. I had no intention of meeting or befriending them, just being polite and then skulking off on my own to write or ruminate or nap. Instead, I had some great meals and conversations. Great yoga and stargazing. And just today the group told me they thought I was funny. Talented. Unique. I know some of these things, but even now in my liberated days where I don't get too hung up on negative comments or other peoples' baggage, it was refreshing.

Any time someone says the word "retreat" I automatically think of falling away in battle, not escaping the nine to five. I imagine sinking into the blackness or hiding out until the tide returns. When I come home, I hope I will remember this lesson: paradise is more than sinking your toes into the sand. Paradise is being seen for who you are: dissolving the line between who you are and who you pretend to be.

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