Last week I intended take a morning Yoga with Mind Body Dancer® class at Steps on Broadway. I woke up early, packed up for the day, and set out into the snowy morning with a skip in my step. Unlike a majority of New Yorkers, it seems, the sight of falling snow instantly lifts my spirits. “How lucky I am,” I thought, “to live in this amazing city and spend a wintry morning doing yoga.”
However, it quickly became apparent that my joyful winter wonderland had other plans for New York’s public transportation system. After a 50-minute commute to Times Square from Queens, a trip that normally takes me only slightly over 20 minutes, I knew that I was pushing it to expect that the uptown 2 train would get me to 72nd St in less than 7 minutes. But after being stalled underground between stops and having to switch trains due to a sick passenger, I just really, really wanted to get to yoga that morning, you know? My heart was set on it, so I hopped on the express train and prayed for it to go fast.
As the subway approached 72nd, I looked at my watch and saw the looming numbers – 10:01am. “Argh! I’m so close!,” I thought. I leapt out of the doors as soon as they opened, hurled myself up the stairs and through the turnstile, and then, I just started running. As in, for real, honest-to-goodness running through the snow and the slush with my backpack bopping up and down on my back, slipping and sliding past pedestrians along the sidewalk.
I hurtled past the Christmas tree vendor, the fruit vendor, and the book vendor, getting so close to my final destination, and then…I just started laughing. The irony of acting like a crazed, anxious madwoman just because I HAD to get to yoga, a typically calming activity, was just too much to keep in. Giggling to myself, I slowed to a walk and glanced at my watch to confirm my absolute, definite lateness and inability to check in, change my clothes, and set up my mat in time to practice. I stood still for a moment, unsure if I should keep walking while I mentally rearranged my plans for the day. The snow fell down softly around me, blanketing even a busy New York City street with that special quiet that only snow can bring. I took a deep breath and let it out.
As we get closer and closer to the end of 2013, many of us use this time to reflect on what we've accomplished in the past year and what we want to do in the next. This is a time of year of extreme abundance for many of us in the form of lavish food, drinks, gifts, and visits from friends and family; it is also a time of extreme loss and scarcity among the homeless, the poor, the grief-stricken, and the lonely. In either scenario, for good or for bad, I think all of us have a tendency to become even more attached to the ideas of the things we want in life but don't have and certainly aren’t guaranteed. The reality is that some days you will wake up and get to do what you want to do with the people you want to do it with, but some days obstacles will be thrown in your path that make those desires, however grand or miniscule or loving or petty, impossible.
What if we occasionally let the facts on the ground tell us what our next step should be instead of our internal desires and motives? As we approach the New Year, perhaps we can approach our "resolutions" with flexibility and openness. How can invite more fluidity and more compassion into our practice on and off the mat instead of rigidity and pre-conceived goals?
In a city of generally high-achieving, tightly scheduled, and goal-driven people, the tendency to push harder and harder for the things we want, even when every sign in the universe is pointing us in other direction, is addicting. Sometimes, when we do this it means we are bravely facing adversity with perseverance and passion. Sometimes, it just means we need to calm down, take a breath, and stand for a moment in the snow.
- Katherine Moore