As I left the last in a series of “first” yoga classes taught by my fellow Mind Body Dancer trainees and took my seat on the subway home, I found myself falling right into a subtly profound moment. Seeing that a seat had opened up as I stepped onto the train, I set down my bags and casually looked at the poster to my right, only to find a poem entitled Graduation, by Dorothea Tanning. It read:
He told us, with the years, you will come to love the world.
And we sat there with our souls in our laps and comforted them.
This poem was already serendipitous in the fact that I’d worked for the print and web design company that had drafted Dorothea’s latest website years earlier (though it took me 24 hours to figure that out – delayed serendipity!). In the moment, the poem seemed perfectly poignant in view of my having graduated from my first yoga teacher training that same week. And it seemed even more fitting for those trainees who were not only embarking on their yogic journey but also beginning their adult lives, free from the structures and safety of school. To leave all that they have known and to start fresh – new apartments, new jobs, new colleagues… this clean slate, while thrilling, can lend itself to much fear. Such an onslaught of the unknown can be overwhelming to the nth degree. This poem’s regard for both comfort and faith could be really powerful for them too, I thought.
I suddenly realized that each of us members of the “real world” could stand to hear this poem, and not just in times of graduation. Even if we moved on from school years ago and have secured apartments and jobs, we constantly are met with situations that trigger and prolong stress. Stresses come and go just as thoughts and feelings do, but when they accumulate it can feel as if we are losing control, as if the stress is overtaking our lives, eating up what little energy and head space we have left. In these kinds of moments it could be helpful to take a look at the souls in our laps and recognize their need for comfort, our need for comfort.
There are plenty of ways to deal with the stresses of everyday life. In lieu of Dorothea’s poem, I’d like to propose one such solution: instead of letting our stresses snowball us into complete chaos, why not stop, take a breath, and consider the wonders – both big and small – that surround us? Such a search can be challenging in tough times when we sequester ourselves in a cave of negativity. I certainly don’t want to promote false hope or cheesiness, but instead suggest we open our eyes and our ears, our minds and our hearts to the beauties that pop up around us. Is it not worth it, to take a minute or two to crack ourselves open, place our vulnerabilities out on the table, and engage fully with the beautiful and ugly world and welcome in all possibilities that may be in store for us? I would imagine that living like this could really lead us to love the world, or at least quite a few aspects of it. Dorothea wrote this poem when she was 93 years old. I’ve got to believe she wrote it for a reason.