Friday, November 13, 2015


Someone asked me this morning what I would write about Paris.

I have no idea. I didn't realize Paris was on my to-do list today.

I have a surprising number of things to say about Michael Jackson and pumpkins (not together), about loneliness and the uncanny resemblance I bear to Eeyore this morning. But apparently, that's not what you want to read from me.

As someone who only started traveling internationally in my 32nd year on Earth, Europe hasn't made it onto my passport yet. I know precious few things about France in general, despite my mother's insistence on pronunciation and my early infatuation with Bizet's Carmen.

(I think it was the strong female thing. Or the sex work thing. Another essay, I'm sure.)

What I know today that is different from what I knew yesterday, is that none of this is about France, and that if I all of a sudden start binging on trivia, I'll do no one any justice. Even though I'm really quite good at memorization, no amount of study will reanimate anyone who shuffled yesterday. No matter how deeply I dive into the media frenzy or the social media melancholy and group shaming, it won't make a lick of difference.

All I can do is change me. 

This is one of the things that happens when we try to change the world by changing other people - it never ends well. It doesn't change them, it rarely changes us, and everyone gets rather huffy. Sometimes people act out, and when those who want to act out have access to high-impact technology, like weaponry or the internet, we have big waves to surf while we wait for the tide to settle in again.

Oh, bother.

One thing I've realized in the last couple of years, is that I'm actually capable of anything. And I don't necessarily mean that in a good way. I used to say things after "I'll never..." and I thought that I meant them, but in fact, I did not. "I'll never be a doula, I'll never own a yoga studio, I'll never get a divorce... " Three strikes, and those are just examples I feel cozy publishing on the internet.

I was recently at a retreat where someone told me they visited a place where it is incredibly rude to say "no." If you want to indicate a negative response, the best you can do is say, "not yet."

Are you a doula? Not yet.

Are you divorced? Not yet.

Are you a terrorist? Not yet.

This is powerful. Because when you think, "I would never commit acts of such violence," you're being rather presumptuous about yourself. I am guilty of incredible violence, most of which I have directed at myself. But I am not my behaviors, neither the ones I'm punishing myself for nor the punishment. I'm made of stardust and so are you, which is excellent news. I can choose to stop hurting any time, choose to turn off the TV any time, choose to stop shaming myself for thinking the hundreds of negative things I think before breakfast. And then, once I'm off the couch I can walk outside and be present with the next person for a minute.

I do this every day, with every extra ounce of pixie dust I have, which most days is just a speck. I do it one hundred thousand times a day, because that's where I am. You might be surprised to learn that I spend a lot more time cowering on the bathroom floor than one might expect, or cemented in between the layers of blankets on the couch. One half of my personality is always nudging the other half to move or to hold still. To love or to fear.

This is why I practice yoga. For one hour a day, whether I'm moving or holding still, wailing or flailing, I'm practicing remembering that thing I seem so apt to forget: 
I am already perfect.
I am responsible for myself, which includes my own suffering and my own happiness.
I must put on my own life preserver before helping others.
My commentary about other people is a waste of everyone's time.
My love is contagious.
So is my fear.
I am already perfect.
(so are you).

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