Lately my son has been balking at the idea of going outside to walk. He is scared (understandably). He’d much rather bike or scoot quickly through familiar roads frantically past undetectable invaders. In an effort to get some fresh air and face some fears, I called upon my community to see if they had items so that I could put together a holiday craft project that he’d had been asking to do. The day following our Nor-easter was a perfect time to get outdoors after a whole day housebound. As we hurdled the initial crankiness and resistance to leave the house, we quickly pivoted into a favorite game about dragons and phoenixes that we would play in pre-pandemic times. This kept the wolves at bay for a while but as the walk lengthened, the stumbling blocks began to re-emerge. Friend, humbly I will tell you that it took everything in my being to not become frustrated or say something dismissive. Rather, I took the time to observe and reassured him that he could take breaks when he needed to and that I was right there by his side. It’s painful to watch a loved one thrash, but eventually, the complaints subsided and birds, nature and lawn decorations became the point of focus as we found ourselves magically back at home. While we unloaded our pack, tiredness receded and his curiosity emerged as to why people were willing to offer out these craft items and how we would put all of the components together.
Our project: How to sew a gingerbread person pillow.
We set about measuring, tracing, and cutting until we were ready to start sewing. After showing him how to thread the needle and create the stitch, I let him go, watching as time elapsed how he was progressing, measuring his progress and then fatiguing. Again, the questioning, self-criticizing, thoughts of giving up, and frustration welled within him and anger emerged. To this, I softly offered the advice to take a break and come back to it. While he was resting I began to share stories of the times in my childhood when I would sit with my grandmother and she would ask me to help her with her sewing. Time and time again she would have me thread her needles and would call me ‘her eagle eyes’ every time each needle was threaded. While these times were nice, I also shared the times when the tasks were more mundane or laborious, and how I would become resentful and plead and beg with her to let me stop. Despite her lack of knowing the English language, she understood the look of suffering and the tone of my voice. She would then offer me soft eyes, a toothless grin and a gentle rub on the back uttering the words, ‘neigh, neigh, innaehada’ (ok, ok, keep going. Persevere). While observing K cast each stitch, I saw bits of me in him. I recognized the impatience and frustration of reaching for perfection or completion without the patience of understanding that there is a process, – that recognizing that the process of learning, albeit difficult, was a gift. At that moment, I felt the soft seat and noble affect of my wise, buddha-like grandmother with her wizened features offering patience, space, and kindness in the face of frustration and dis-ease. The words of Voltaire came to mind, ‘Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.’
I miss my grandmother. I miss her soft eyes, her toothless grin, her good nature and the reminders conveyed in the universal language of love in action. As K kept working I realize that a collection of people and events had brought us to this sacred space to do some work together. The work created the opportunity to share, stay and be permeable in the face of judgment, open to the need to express, and steadfast in the belief that he would find his way, and to trust the process.
Yoga offers us this same space to confront resistance, boredom and fear and stitch them together into a new fabric that flexes, frees, fits and holds us as we journey through life. Yoga is never fixated on the end result but rather the ebb and flow of the journey itself. As we travel through the last few weeks of this very eye-opening and challenging year, let us remind one another that we’ve been in training all along and that our work, while independent has always been right alongside one another. Let’s witness the contrast of what we can control with what we cannot with an equal temperance of heroic hearts, compassion and patience to sit, thrash, yell, scream and embrace all of the ups and downs we face. Let’s not let our ideas of ‘the perfect’ life be the enemy of ‘the good’ that we have the opportunity to see and create in each moment.
“Try to walk as much as you can, and keep your love for nature, for that is the true way to learn to understand art more and more. Painters understand nature and love her and teach us to see her. If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”
– Vincent Van Gogh
xoxo- Sharon & Your TYC Tribe