And some blank pages
Nothing more needs doing
On February 14, 2002 I wrote in my journal, “Floating in the ocean with nothing better to do than stare at the bright blue sky.” This was from the white sands of the beaches in Northeastern Brazil. It was my third year of college and this was my study abroad…I was studying the relationship between ocean and sky. I wasn’t, actually. But there was something that I was trying to grasp in that journal entry that I’m just finally moving towards twelve years later: relaxation.
In that moment as in other vacation moments I’ve wondered how to bring that “floating” sensation to “every day life” or “the real world.” After leaving Mexico, where I taught 2nd grade for three years, I decided to take the year off from teaching.On purpose, with no job or home in place, I flew to Boston where I floated in between my parent’s homes by bike, by car, and by train. Things just worked out. My dad gave me his old car for the price of a new muffler. I found a job substitute teaching very easily, and out of the blue came the email that my acupuncturist said I would get. Would you like to staff the Basic Yoga Teacher Training it read from my yoga teacher.
And so I floated to Yogaville, an ashram situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Once there, floating was easy. My “work” was supporting a program that I truly believe in while I too practiced with the students. Work was learning the elements of Integral Yoga again, practicing yoga every day, and meditating. “Work” was getting to know participants and their floating lives, learning and conversing with the other interesting members of the staff. “Work” was hiking the trails,
long conversations in the dining hall with others’, and jamming to poetry and chants. While I was “working” the support and love I felt as a staff was the same that I had felt four years prior when participating in the program itself. Floating felt natural as I found that many participants in the program and others that were living in the ashram were also floating.
From there, I floated to another retreat on the coast of Northern California.. While these two retreats were different they had a very similar effect on me and the message was clear: “Relax into love and you can’t go wrong.” The question among many of us was, “But how do I do that during every day life?”
Something in both places that was said resonated me. “This is every day life.”
Living in community, acting with and discussing what it means to move with awareness. And most of all, learning to live in the in-between, because that is the only thing real that exists.”And yet, that is a very scary place to be, especially when living in a city; a city where“floating” doesn’t always feel acceptable because everyone’s always racing to get on the next train especially me!
Or where there are so many distractions it’s hard to remember what feels true and to remember to give myself the time to stop and listen to the voice of love inside. And being in a city has brought up old anxieties and it’s hard to be patient with myself. I somehow feel that because I just came from these magical places of conscious floaters that I should automatically be different and when I put that should on myself I feel the fear of being in that “in-between” place creep up and from that fear tension grows.
And yet, also while being in this city,I have been lucky enough to float from amazing person to person, including loving family that has let me into their home.
The stories of inspiration, trauma, and love that I have heard are incredible.No one has spoken of perfection or of lack of want. But everyone has spoken with an understanding of the importance of following one’s heart and understanding of that chilling fear when hearing the voice that says, I am lost. And yet, with patience and tranquility the answer of what’s next always comes.
Before I left Mexico, I had lunch with a friend. When I started telling him all of my plans and everything I wanted to do with all of my excitement he said, “Sarah, I see you as lost.” My face fell and I started crying. “You need to have a plan.” he said.
I heard a “but” creeping up inside me. What’s wrong with being lost? It said.
“Yes.” I nodded my head. “A plan.”
“And not just sit around and have long lunches and tea with people.”
“Right.” I thought.
And I left that lunch feeling miserable. Why hadn’t I voiced what I had heard? There was nothing wrong with being “lost.”. And besides, I love long teas! I learned how to do that in Mexico!
Yesterday, I floated from one two hour tea date to the next. I was able to completely be with them in the moment because there was nothing else I had to do. Floating gives me the time to be still so that I can finally hear that voice within me that guides me to either go left, right, or stare at the blue sky while floating on the waves on the white sand beaches in Brazil.
People often ask me “How’s Mexico?” and as so much of Mexico now seems normal to me, I don’t know how to respond.
This weekend happened to be quite unusual in the sense that there were a series of events that that could be described as, “Only in Mexico.”
I-A Spanish Date
If you get stopped by the Mexican cops
I recommend that you take a
sassy fast-talkin Spanish hottie driving behind the wheel
and make sure you have a
mordita of something sweet…
a date, perhaps?
II-Cafe Jorocho, La Lluvia, y Bicis
“Cafe Jorocho on bikes?” I read on my phone as I walk in the door just from biking back from training. “yeeessssss!” I reply to my friend David.
We meet at a in-between location where, to my delight, our coach and friend, joins us. “You know how to bike in the street?” he asks.
“Yes!” I reply indignantly.
“Good! I want to see it.” How is it that coaches even when they’re not coaching still have a way of coaching?
I love biking in cities, especially cities that people say are not bikeable. Especially in cities whose streets and neighborhoods are so varied and interesting and that it’s too hard to get a feel for them if one is always in a car.
Our bike wheels hit the cobblestone streets where cotton candy and artesenal ice creams are being sold on the corners of the small town square. The market is crowded; full of stands that sell memeles, and any other type of tortilla that you could possibly want. We settle for a restaurant next door first of course parking our bicycles at the estacionamiento negotiating and thanking the attendants for watching our locked up bikes hidden by the garbage cans in back.
First order of business: “How about we put our cell phones away?”
Look of death. “It’s the world cup, Sarah.” Oh right, the game.
The restaurant’s TV has something else on so Luisen props his phone up against the table like an old mobile tv; it works like one too, with the internet’s connection in and out. My friends stand hunched over their seats watching the tiny screen as the internet connection wobbles.
After a Oaxacan style lunch with mole and tlayudas we thank the attendants at the estacionamento again and get our bikes to head for Cafe Jorocho, a Veracruzan style coffee.
Imagine a deli store in New York. A tiny little corner store that sells coffee, mochas, cappuchinos, what-say-you,with different sweets; pan de elote, muffins, or perhaps a donut. The workers are polit
e but short. “Que pides?” Okay. Jorocho Especial. Gracias! Proximo!”
Families, couples, friends sit in plastic chairs and there is a line down the street for churros, cafe, and crepes. There are buskers on the corner singing trying to earn an honest living. We sit in our plastic sipping our hot coffees while eating our treats watching the rain on the outside. We sit until it is dark and there is no point in avoiding the rain because clearly it will not stop. We ride back along, and Luisen leaves first. “Let me know when you get home..okay?”
“Okay!” we say as we continue along. David is next to go. “Just head straight down Division del Norte. And tell me when you get home!”
The rain is coming down faster, and I glide along the wet streets (only having to ask for directions once)! The warmth that I feel inside the apartment building after the doorman lets me in is priceless. I am a wet satisfied full rat, and a warm shower feels good. And then I collapse into bed so that I can be ready to run the next morning.
Monday morning I hear squeaking like a rocking chair above me. “What are the neighbors doing?”I haven’t heard that sound before in this building. I start to feel dizzy and I recognize what this is just as my roommate, E knocks loudly on the door.
“We got to go! Earthquake!”
“What’s our other roommate’s name?” she asks.
“Laurel!” I shout banging on her door as her boyfriend scrambles to put his jeans on over his boxers.
“We need a key!” yells E, and at that point we even debate if it’s worth evacuating as the apartment has stopped moving.
Welcome to Mexico.