“WHAT WILL YOU THINK IF I SING OUT OF TUNE, WILL YOU GET UP AND WALK OUT ON ME?”
On the heels of my disagreement-resolution with Oscar re: being on time, another situation hit me in the face for healing. (See last week’s blog.) Here goes: On February 22, a Saturday night, I had a call from Gert, a Park Slope Co-op colleague, asking me to cover his shift, Monday at 6 a.m. He was in France. I awoke on Monday morning at 5:15 and made my way to Union Street to cover his shift. (We manage our absent shifts by trading with other members.) Knowing I would be at the co-op on Monday, where I could shop directly after my shift, I delayed my very early, customary food-shopping gig on Sunday. My own shift had been completed the prior Monday at 6 a.m. and this was an attempt to conserve my sleep. My twice-weekly yoga class meets on Monday and Friday in the morning; but with food shopping added to my morning ritual, I would be late to class by 5-10 minutes. The yoga facility has an attendance rule: please don’t come to class after being 5 minutes late. To be helpful, our instructor has suggested that if we are late, to wait until the class completes the meditation, which brings us to 10 minutes late. Anyway, I am usually early to prompt to arrive at class so this rule is not in the forefront of my mind. I want to add, that after my discussion with Oscar last week, I internalized an amended sense of time-appropriateness. I arrive 10 minutes late and see the women on their backs, with their feet against the wall, and am confused about where they are in the progression; have they finished meditation? Are they in a pose? I knock on the locked door. No one looks up to let me in. I think they are meditating, and decide to wait and go into the workout room to do leg exercises and come back. Now it is 15 minutes after the hour. Shall I leave? I made such an effort to get here, and I really need to relax in a downward dog, a main yoga pose! I knock again, and a lifesaver of a classmate looks up and lets me in. I am so grateful, and, somewhat embarrassed, as I value being on time. This is an unusual occurrence for me, right here, right now, to be pressing my nose at the glass of a classroom, from the outside… What I miscalculated is that the class is running late, as well. As I settle in, the instructor announces that no one will be admitted after 5 minutes. (Remember that other times she told us to wait until the meditation is complete.) Again, I feel somewhat embarrassed, and certainly UNWELCOME. I thought, “I could get up and leave,” because I feel uncomfortable, but I really want to do a downward dog. I had made a good effort to get here. During the class we were asked to do a pose ten times. “Twenty times for those who were late,” voiced the instructor. I take mental note. I think, “Shall I find another yoga class?” At this point I think I feel unloved and sad, rather than angry. As I momentarily feel sorry for myself, what runs through my mind is: after all, my mother passed last month; I did a favor for a colleague; I’m really a person who values being on time, and IS on time for most classes; I feel misunderstood, unwanted and still unloved… As I go to leave, the instructor reaches out to me, apologetically. I tell her about my conversation with Oscar about the different sensibility people have around lateness in an attempt to say that there is relativity (remember what Einstein said? There are few absolutes, the rest are relative.) about point of view; that I wrote a blog about it. (She really doesn’t hear me. This is what happens in conversation when we concentrate on our own position, like wanting to be RIGHT in a debate, not wanting to hear a dissonant response.) Saying that if she is too lax, students complain to management. (I realize that this is a job she, a single mother, needs.) As we speak, a classmate joins in, to tell me that her experience was ‘disturbed’ when I entered the room, late; she brings up the 5-minute-rule. My instructor adds that the facility ‘backs me on this.’ (I think, is this her rule or the institutional rule? But say nothing, as this would take us off on a tangent.) I repeat that I understand their sensibility, their stance on this point. BUT, these two women did not want to hear about a blurred distinction, that we each could hold differing points of view and still be respected. No, this is not a differing sensibility; the facility has a rule. Let’s slow down the frame, so to speak, I want to share my experience at this moment: I felt the energy of ‘rightness’ – the attempt to have me feel that I am ‘wrong’ – the two of them and me, in a conversation which has become public at this point, witnessed by a number of others who were leaving the classroom. It felt like a blast of negative emotion coming my way. Oy vey! Realizing that my words would not be valued, I said, “I have to go,” feeling like a circle they were trying to fit into a square peg. As I walked home with my heavy heart and groceries, it occurred to me that I am of the generation that pushed rules, and I still aspire to change those rules that separate us. A sort of humorous, protest song came to mind: “And the sign says, “Long-haired freaky people need not apply” So I put my hair up under my hat and I went in to ask him why He said you look like a fine outstanding young man, I think you’ll do So I took off my hat, I said, “Imagine that, huh, me workin’ for you” Sign, sign, everywhere a sign Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?” (The Canadian rock group, The Five Man Electrical Band; two releases: 1970 and 1971; writer, Les Emmerson; Sony/ATV; Wikipedia, 2014). I don’t want you to think that anger was my prevalent feeling, but I did think of this song that is a signature of baby-boomer protest and social change during the 1960-70s. Protest was the zeitgeist (spirit of the time) during these decades. So when I felt a touch of anger, this came up, probably because feelings are associative; (they follow emotional rather than logical synapses and polypeptides in the brain and body.) I do respect timeliness. But I also respect flexibility. When Oscar is very late, I feel sad. In this situation, I found myself on the other end of the time discussion, as I WAS LATE, and I ran smack into the square of the institution, (I being a circle) which has rules that I usually abide by. Through a confluence of variables, I couldn’t and didn’t fit these rules this morning. In retrospect I could have worked out on the machines in the exercise room, not going to class. Somehow, I longed for the nurture of my class, sort of home away from home for over a year now. And, I certainly wasn’t expecting this reaction! From a spiritual perspective, which is our highest view, facing this discussion about my ‘lateness’ led me to a healing experience! This is where the stepping back, and sense of humor come in. (See my blog, November 25, 2013, “Sense Of Humor. Don’t Leave Home Without It”) In not following the ‘rule,’ I was reprimanded. I felt the residue, the unhealed sting (a tap root) of each of the times in my life when I felt I was not welcomed, when I felt unloved, when I felt embarrassed for being myself – imperfect, as I can be, unrehearsed. The sadness that sprang up reflected, mildly, a deep pain of not fitting in the ‘norm’ that is so often my experience. The gift from these two women was the outcome. I was given the opportunity to work through the prompts from universe, the opportunity to heal this long-forgotten, childlike vulnerability of wanting to be loved for who I am in my imperfection. The yoga facility is not an ideal place, nor is this a perfect world! As I moved away from the mild anger of not feeling welcomed, I was able to sort through my nuanced feelings – and the deeper roots of these expressions, these experiences of who I am. Understanding who I am, and what I feel, is a really fine place to be… The discomfort and grieving work are worth seeing myself more clearly in the mirror that Merlin describes so poetically (See Blog, July 29, 2013, “The World Is A Magical Place – Merlin”) My task now is to continue to grasp more intimate knowledge, any truths that become apparent, to me: how I look in my internal mirror. This is a great gift, grist for the mill, along the path to self-love. I’ll keep you posted… Speak to you on March 17th.
*(Ringo Starr, lead singer, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Album,” 1967, writers, Lennon-McCartney, SONY/ATV,Parlophone)