6am

Quickly, quietly, and without any lights on, I slip from the bedroom into the office where I quickly shut the door. I’m not sure how well it seals in the sound, but in my head, it’s like I can barely breathe until I’m divided away. I want this time for me but I know he prefers to keep sleeping.

And then, I sit. My socks, that I wear to bed every night, save for the hottest summer evenings, get pulled off gently to allow my feet to stick to the mat. It’s dark when I begin but I know that by the time I end, it won’t be. My corner of the world will wake up with me. Gently and gracefully.

The double window in the office provides a sweeping view of the rest of the neighborhood. Perched at the top of our hill, with the window facing the houses and streets that cascade below, I see everything. Well, not yet. It’s still early. But I will see everything in time.

Without any light, either outside or in, I close my eyes while I sit cross-legged on my mat. My eyes are notoriously terrible in the dark. I was once on a long car ride to Maine with my boyfriend (now husband) and when it got dark, he asked if I’d like him to take the wheel for a while. I agreed and not much longer after that we were streaming along a mountain road. He started to slow and, not seeing anything ahead, I asked why. He said “Seriously? You don’t see that moose in the road?” and I felt red and ashamed that my eyes had failed to spot such a gigantic beast.

In the silent house with my eyes closed in the dark, all that I can hear is my breath and the fan of the heat when it decides the house is too cold and the temperature must be fixed. And I begin what is a practice of muscle strength, concentration, will, balance, and peace. Moving from posture to posture, working out quirks as I go, and coming up with new ways to hold my frame to get the greatest boost.

The sun begins to rise and the dark blue sky shades lighter with pale pink and lilac on the edges and I begin my sun salutations. They raise my heart rate enough that I sweat just a little. It creates heat in my arms and legs as the sun, now hitting the horizon, adds copper and golden tones to the sky.

When I’m finished with my set and standing at the top of my mat, the sun’s rays are now hitting the tree tops and I can see smoke rising from chimneys. Some rooms in the other houses are lit from the inside now with the stirrings of morning.

After a few final postures I finish on the floor, sprawled out in a relaxed position usually relegated to bedtime but brought out at dawn to solidify both body and mind before the day ahead.

And then his alarm goes off at 7am and I know that the rest of the day has been set in motion. The sun is up, I am up, and I am finally, truly awake.

The Beach

I hated the beach. For as long as I can remember I did, anyway. Filled with grating sand always stuck everywhere and squirmy weeds that feel like predators brushing legs.

It was grotesque, really. Swimming with crabs and bacteria and letting that get stuck in as many places as the sand did.

Unsanitary.

And then there was the hot sun berating my skin. Even on a cloudy day it was killing me and planting new freckles, or moles, or precancerous cells. I always liked my porcelain skin, almost see-through on the inside of my forearms (and most other places) so I guess I learned early that red was not a flattering color. Maybe for clothes, perhaps, but never for skin.

Not even when my face would blush tomato red. I hated that feeling, too. The feeling of embarrassment to the point of physical reaction, uncontrollable, that told everyone just how uncomfortable I was.

What an evil body — pointing out my thoughts on my face without my consent.

I guess red was never my color. Nor was tan, or brown, or any other beach color except blue and shade. And porcelain. But to keep myself pale and beautiful, I ostracized myself from the beach people. They eventually learned not to invite me because I always said no. Except that first time, anyway. That first time taught me to say no every other time.

What the hell is so great about the beach anyway? Squinting sunshine, hot, sweaty, nearly naked when I was taught to be modest, and fearing the ocean’s uncertainty. Who gives a shit about volleyball and iced tea and sand castles and reading when I’m busy just trying to battle the very nature of what the beach is.

The Bridge

Alone, I stood at the entrance to the forest near home. There was a winding path that I loved to walk, through towering trees, that led to a rickety wooden bridge over a river that once barreled through but had lost its power and was now only a small trickle of its former flow.

I walked the path, hardly needing to watch my step since my feet knew where all the stones and roots obscured even ground. It felt like seconds until I came to the bridge but I knew it was at least a mile. As I approached, there was a small gap in the tree canopy that let a little light shine through onto the bridge and small stream below it. Among the dim glow of the forest in daytime, this sliver of bright light was striking.

If it were Sunday rather than Saturday, maybe this might have been some karmic sign, something etherial telling me something. But, being Saturday, I convinced myself that no cosmic signs from the universe where being presented.

It was just timing.

My Movie Scene: Life as Art

In the perfect moment, when I feel victorious, I’m consumed in the final scene of the movie about this act of my life, and I’m silently contented. It happens rarely and is so powerful that even if I hadn’t felt victorious before, the moment will make me feel that I have been.

It starts with one of a few activities, most commonly walking or driving (people watching and sitting in a coffee shop also work, but are less frequent). There’s a song playing but it’s not just any song. It can be many songs but not every song works. As it plays, time slows and everything I do is more deliberate. It brings me headlong into the present moment.

I am living now in perfect clarity with no more thoughts.

In my mind’s eye, I don’t just see what I’m looking at. I see myself as the subject in a camera frame that doesn’t really exist. It slowly pans out, always focused on me, as I’m moving along.

I’m the one driving the car towards my dreams in the end highway scene from Good Will Hunting.

I’m in the scene from the end of My Girl 2, except rather than it being Nick walking away with his stupid love sick smile, it’s me walking away, determined and happy.

In the moment, not only am I happy but I feel like I’ve won. It’s the perfect ending to the movie being made about this part of my life. Whatever battle I’ve been fighting has ended and I’ve emerged the champion. There are no more thoughts–just feelings–and it’s pure bliss.

I’ve won peace of mind, clarity, happiness, and the brief moment in time when I embody positive emotions. My body is coursing with energy usually hidden deep down somewhere and I know that there’s nothing else I can do but savor this. As long as I’m present and fully engulfed, it will last. So I smile and embrace it. It’s fleeting so I drink in every bit of it I can get. Don’t talk to me, it’ll stop it. Don’t look at anyone or think a single thought–I’ll lose it. It’s so urgent that I hold this happiness to keep it from running away when it breaks.

Keep.

Going.

Stay with me.

But,

It fades.

As much as I try to hold on, it will fall away. My thoughts come back and I return to being the me that everyone knows me as, with complex thoughts and emotions, and not just a grinning idiot blissful in the moment that my thoughts stop and I bathe in wondrous feelings.

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” – Oscar Wilde

My movie scene is just that–art. But this art happens in my life and in my head. This art is my life for the seconds that I’m in my scene. My movie scene is my life as art.

It’s the most spiritual thing I’ve ever experienced. A deep awakening of this inner life happens and makes me feel intimately connected with my mind, body, and the universe in a way that nothing else has ever triggered. It’s spontaneous and organic. I can’t make it happen but it often happens when I need it the most. It’s like it knows I could use this win.

If I’m being honest, it’s probably the reason why I understand what people talk about when they’re talking about the soul.

For me, the soul is just a state of consciousness. When my movie scene plays, my experience becomes completely cerebral. I’m aware of everything and am absorbing what I sense, but my mind and my consciousness are open. I’m fully present. My awareness acts on my behalf. It’s part of me, maybe even the essence of me, and it’s showing it’s power.

I imagine that people who regularly practice meditation may feel like this at times during their practice. It feels like enlightenment and I’ve been given access to a deeper level of emotion. In that moment, I’m truly experiencing everything in life. And as long as I remember that feeling, I’ll always be striving for it.

The most disappointing part of it all is that I don’t know how to make it happen. I can’t enter into an activity, put on a certain song, and float away to this other state of consciousness. I can’t stretch it out and make it stay for hours. It’s locked inside most of the time and I welcome its appearance in my life, but it’s shy and hidden. It won’t happen when I won’t be able to appreciate it.

But if that’s the most disappointing part of achieving bliss and living inside a work of art, I’ll take it. Living through a moment that can be described as art really is as magnificent as it sounds. I just wish that I could bottle up the moment and send it to you, because that would be easier than trying to create art about art.

Rediscovering my Creativity

A few weeks ago, I was digging through folders on my computer that I don’t often venture in to. I found my very vaguely named “Writing” folder and I really had no idea what would even be in there. So I looked. It was filled with both academic and creative writing that I’d done while I was in college. Much of the academic writing was quite dry and boring but the creative writing was, well, creative.

I read pieces that I forgot about writing. I read some and thought maybe with a little revision, they could really be something. I read through others that needed editing and even more that were somewhat juvenile. Regardless of the quality of the collection, it was all writing that took me back to that exact time and place when I was probably the most creative.

It was then that I truly realized how much I’ve lost.

After graduation, I immediately transitioned from a student to working adult and I left my creativity. I stopped writing when I started working. I entered the (incorrect) mindset that my job had to be wholly fulfilling and when I got home and relaxed on the couch, I wouldn’t need anything else to make me feel productive.

I got an itch to write again in late 2008 which led to the beginning of the wine blog that I had for three years but the wine blog was a temporary movement in my creativity. It wasn’t really the best of my writing but it was a way to dive into something I thought that I was the most passionate about.

I’m passionate about wine, that’s certain. I love it. But it’s not the thing that I’m the most passionate about. I’m most passionate about writing, but the writing I did then was handcuffed. It was limited to one topic and didn’t allow me to explore anything else. It was possibly the least creative writing I may have ever done in my spare time (at least since my days as a young girl writing in a diary about my day).

Of course, I tried to make things interesting but it wasn’t quite the same as when I’d walk the college campus at night to the steps of the campus’ main hall, and sit in silence (and often in the cold) while I worked out my thoughts.

Ever since I started this blog last year, I knew I’d lost a bit of my creativity but I didn’t know the extent of it. I’ve had little to write here but it’s not because I have nothing to say. It’s often because I’ve forgotten how to unlock what I have trapped in my head. It’s been hard to find elegant (or maybe messy) ways to express myself.

So I’m deciding to work on my creativity. It’s not an overnight process but the slow return of life to my fingers as I write is completely worth it. Scheduling a night to write in a cafe every week or finding music that can make me cry, even when there’s no lyrics, will help. Maybe finally taking piano lessons or French classes to break me out of the normal patterns of adult monotony will stoke the creative flame. Even writing pieces that aren’t really that good will help me rebuild my skills–not fearing to fail every time I put pen to paper is a huge factor in actually churning out something good. And when I find something like a movie that opens up my soul to new thoughts and feeling, well, I’m going to keep prodding that to see where that can bring my creative mind.

Writing is my main medium and where I feel most comfortable when I go to create my own things but dabbling in other mediums can help make my writing better by being a bit of inspiration. Other creative activities can open me up to be receptive to new ideas, letting myself fail, and try harder next time.

I’m not hoping to be perfectly back to a creative flow immediately. It will take some work. But I’m finding myself again. I’m finding my inner happiness by working to unlock my own creativity.