I had a really good pact going with this winter. I was born in Southern California and have lived in sunny places for most of my life. I usually I have days when the gray and cold of Oregon really get to me, but this one was different. I had a peace with it like I was the first year I lived here. I imagined in my minds eye anointing the physical embodiment of winters neck with a sparkly, diamond crusted half of a heart shaped, best friends forever necklace. Me and winter, we were finally at peace with one another. Cold air on my face reminds me that I’m alive, it’s not annoying at all. Perspective had also shifted during these pandemic times, seeing a friend in person for an hour ranked higher on my list than having a sunny day. I was grateful for these new things pain and experience had grown. I also got a magic coat, the first coat in 7 years that kept me warm outdoors in Oregon.
One upcoming weekend we were all anticipating a February fluffy snow, for the first winter in years, I had no yoga classes to drive to, I had a good attitude about it, was looking forward to it. I would teach my Zoom yoga while watching flakes pile up outside. But then an ice storm hit & our power went out. Trees split open everywhere. We got used to hearing them crack and fall all around us. The cold seeped into my bones & frayed my mind. I wanted warmth, any kind of warmth so bad. We had the privilege to escape from the cold into a hotel room that sold out hours later. The front desk staff was harried, they somehow managed to have a sense of humor, be kind, and check us in early. I crunched on my salad, waiting for a room, the doors to the lobby whooshing open and shut bringing a rush of icy air in every time they opened. An older man approached me & asked me where I got my food. Everything around the hotel was closed and they didn’t have a car. The front desk warmed some cup ‘o’ noodles from their small pantry for them and I watched them, huddled over the styrofoam cups, steam rising up, eating. People flitted about the small lobby with frenetic energy. “Can we stay over?” Someone asked. “Our power still isn’t on.” The front desk replied grimly, “I’m sorry, no, we are sold out.” The irony isn’t lost on me that after almost a year of low occupancy due to covid, now it’s difficult to get a room in all of our surrounding area hotels. A credit to them when I called, they honored a emergency rate, when they could have spiked prices easily.
Never one to have idle time, I filmed myself briefly practicing pigeon pose on the hotel bed. Just a moment before I twisted and reached, (those who have back pain know how a twist and reach can incapacitate) and a burning pain shot up my left hip. It’s an old injury that I believed had mostly healed. I kept moving, I filmed, I padded around the hotel room, I prepared snacks for myself and my son.
Here’s the thing about all of this: there’s no stopping me. This, over the last almost 13 years of sobriety has finely honed into both my greatest asset and one of my my worst character defects. I don’t know when to stop. I don’t know when to rest. I associate resting with waving the white flag, with giving up and this could quite possibly be my biggest fear.
Friends took us in. We sat around, ate, pulled cards, laughed at inappropriate things. I felt good. Acceptance and life and life’s terms had carried us through another one day at a time. The power came back on but I watched social media posts continuing, “going on day 5, still no power,” and in Texas my step-dads family reporting back to him about the ice cold and powerless conditions there.
My pain came and went. I rowed for 40 minutes stubbornly, feeling the burn on my left side as my knees sucked into my chest. Pain not so gently knocking on the door to my soul saying, “stop, stop, stop.” I worked out for another half hour. I hung upside down on my trapeze and rolled my muscles out with my trusted spiky massage ball, willing my body to heal to get better, to be strong like it was so many times before.
Nope. I woke up the next day in so much pain that I could hardly get up. Thinking of teaching the planned hamstring classes the following morning made me both want to laugh and cry. Still, in the midst of such pain I posted about my classes, staring at the picture of me folded in half, uttanasana, in disbelief. Was that even me anymore? I had taken the picture just weeks before. The hyper mobile body that had been such a refuge to me for years was now, gone.
It was either teach in pain (Zoom/virtual class requires more physical demonstration) or call and ask for help. I called my friend (who still has no power out in the country) and she said sure, she’d be willing to do the the physical portion of class while I just taught.
Imagine that. I asked for help and I got help. I don’t always have to be the strong one. And as I type this here in bed I acknowledge that I’m stuck in a very dark tunnel. My physical body and what it can do is something I cannot access right now. My dark fears whisper that I am broken, too broken. Am I? I don’t know. Just for today I’m just resting and facing my fears.
I am grateful I can still wake and move. I am grateful out house is warm and I can read or watch movies. I’m grateful for all my crystals at my bedside. Im grateful my son is happy and safe. I’m grateful every time another friend says their lights are on. I’m grateful I can look outside and see the changing sky. I’m grateful for my sobriety which taught me the only way out is through.
Send some good vibes to me and I’m sending some out to all those still existing in cold, dark nights, physical or spiritual.