Part II: I see a flower

I stayed in the forest for 9 years. Indeed, I lost my way. Just when I had given up all hope, I happened upon the path again, as though no time had passed.

The path looked and felt exactly the same, even inexplicably more familiar, except I was to the other side of the forest. Those last few days, while I was still in the forest but could see the light as the trees thinned out ahead, were full of the gentle grief of change. There was a light regret to leave the forest. After all, I had, in my way, been happy there.

Henri Matisse "Woman with a Hat" (1905).
Henri Matisse “Woman with a Hat” (1905).

I was living in Penn Quarter with a new husband and a new apartment two blocks from work. I signed up for the shiny new gym in the neighborhood and there were yoga classes. I heard the people say yoga in a gym was absurd. But, I was quietly suffering then, so I didn’t care. I felt like I’d come home. This time, I was an expert, as the suffering often are. I practiced there for about one year. In that bright green clearing there was blinding sun and a swift breeze.

Paul Cezanne "Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley (1885-1887).
Paul Cezanne “Mont Sainte-Victoire and the Viaduct of the Arc River Valley (1885-1887).

It was like my soul stretched out into my body at last. I luxuriated in my newness, stretched and yawned and purred. I saw then that I had been in the forest too long and had been content with a half-life. I thought about what clothes to wear. I liked myself. I even felt the throb of love, un-anchored in specificity, but I felt it during practice one day while laying in corpse pose at the end. I was not able to hold it or keep it then, but I felt it. I knew then that it existed.

Edgar Degas "Woman in Bath" (1886).
Edgar Degas “Woman in Bath” (1886).

I let someone teach me something. In a total yielding way which was not to come back to me for some years. Her name was Sabine and she was my favorite instructor. She was slight and dark and magical. She saw me on the inside, tense, superior, unhappy and she honored that without any judgment. We never spoke more than a handful of words to each other. One day, she had us practice so we were not facing the mirrors and I was able to see how I been practicing a pose incorrectly and self-correct. I knew that she had done it for me. Me, who was always trying to interpret your inaccessible thoughts and always came out losing. I had accepted something with open hands and I had felt enveloped in love, which means to do no harm.

Raja Ravi Varma "Shakuntala columbia" (1870).
Raja Ravi Varma “Shakuntala columbia” (1870).

Part II ends like this. I was sitting in half-lotus at the end of practice one bright day. Facing away from the mirrors towards the huge windows overlooking Chinatown and unexpectedly a religious verse came to my mind, the one about how the lilies grow though they toil not and spin not.

And, I thought, I am like a flower rooted in the ground.

Jean-François Millet "The Gleaners" (1857).
Jean-François Millet “The Gleaners” (1857).

The works of Millet (1814-1875), Cezanne (1839-1906), Degas (1834-1917) and Varma (1848-1906) are all in the public domain. This work (1905) by Matisse is in the public domain.

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