29 Apr May: Dance with the unknown
I used to do this, the self I was
Used to do this
The selves I no longer am
– Maggie Nelson
I don’t know about you, but these days I feel almost unrecognizable to myself. There has been a profound amount of letting go, change, and growth this past year and a half. It’s almost as is the world as we knew it, was thrown into a blender, churned up and then spat out. On the other side of the chaos, we are peering out into the spring air with the question, “who now, am I?”
In January of this year, My mother was diagnosed with cancer. Clearing up my desk today I found the purple sticky note in which I wrote the news to my husband while on the phone with the doctor: stage 4 lung—no cure—maybe till Christmas, in a shaken hand. The purple sticky note encapsulating the moment I stepped into a yawning abyss and fell into the maw of the unknown, for the future that I had seen, was certainly gone.
It is incredibly uncomfortable to be in the haze of uncertainty, of the unknown. Rarely do we seek it out on purpose unless motivated by a deep inner urge to change. When it is thrust upon us by less than desirable circumstances. Like illness, or loss, like a pandemic that continues to burn on and on it can feel unbearable.
Yet somehow we do bear it, day by day, in moments long and short. The birds call to us, in their spring fervour, the sun warms our cheeks. Life continues to bring us forth, like a wave to the shore whether we know where we are going or not. Little by little, over time and through obstacles we did not know we could face, we find that one thing remains steady, we are still here, despite it all, bearing it. And by our living, we are expanding into the new.
I’ve written about the loneliness we have faced these months cut off physically from each other, but there is also the loneliness of feeling cut off from the Divine Knowing, the awesome rhythm that spins the planets like swirling dervishes. We may rage at things moving too slowly, too quickly, we may despair when life seems unfair. But when did this enormously complex life ever promise us anything else? Would we even really want it to be different? At least, life never ceases in asking us to dance.
More than ever we are brought face to face with the Great Mystery. We are being stripped of things going our way and only our way and lovingly placed on a path so wild and overgrown, we have forgotten it to be our own.
We have two choices here, lean into the unknown or resist. I don’t believe that one is better than the other, but they are choices that we have the agency to make.
Throughout the process of dealing with my mothers diagnosis and treatment, I have done both. I have been brought to the edge of my reason, of my emotional limits, of my physical energy and vitality, I have pushed the unknown as far away as I could, I have laid my head on its beating heart and wept.
What matters is not what I wrote on that sticky note in January, but the relationship I have with the unknown as it yawns open before me in all its greatness and terror, potential and divine glory. To continue to be conscious of the choices I’m making to invite it in, or shut it away.
We are in the unknown here together, each in our own individual ways. What opportunity is being offered now? Can we dance with the mystery of our becoming, individually and collectively?
We are being created anew. We are transforming before our very eyes. It just that sometimes we are so close to the process that we cannot see it.
For the time being, I am focusing my energy on my family and my zoom yoga classes, ( I’m briefly taking a hiatus form my public classes at Stretch Yoga Vancouver.)
My zoom classes are hatha/ flow based and I will be offering a recording once a week. If you would like to sign up, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Classes are 75 minutes at 9:30am Mondays and Fridays. All ages, body types and levels welcome.
All my love,