Last night, with my forehead pressed down onto a foam block, my knees tucked tight against the backs of my triceps, and my backside in the air, the words of our yoga teacher sparked something: he asked us to consider the world—especially the very familiar parts of it—from a new perspective.
That evening’s focus pose, Bakasana (crow pose) is one of several inverted asanas, all of which come with a juicy physical payoff. By sending blood rushing to one’s brain, they bring an invigorating combination of optimism and euphoria.
Pulling off an inversion makes a person want to high-five the world. Everything seems a little brighter; in fact, after doing handstands in class, I’ve even found myself whistling or skipping down the sidewalk.
Part of the rapture arises from the literal upside-down view that we achieve in hanging there, even if only for a few moments. As an adult, there’s nothing so mind-altering as hovering one’s head inches above the ground without falling over; yet, though we benefit from them, we don’t often find ourselves in handstands or headstands or crow pose unless directed in class.
The older we get, the more we strive for level-headedness (or at least being right-side up.) However, without taking those dips upside down, it’s easy for things to become old and dull. As George pointed out, even though it’s the New Year and we’ve made resolutions to do things differently, we attempt to achieve these new feats while steeped in routine: we wake at the same hour, we work at the same job, we travel the same routes.
How can we expect things to be different, if everything else is the same—and if our view of the world remains the same? As George asked this, the restlessness I’ve been feeling of late clicked into focus.
While in transit between Seattle and Los Angeles during the last week of December, I daydreamed about travel in 2011: a return to Civita and Venice in the fall, Detroit in the spring, perhaps Boston or Brooklyn in summer. Brad and I have discussed meeting up in Cartegeña, and I’ve been trying to get a Germany trip to happen for the past several years.
Underneath my lust for travel and adventure is really the question of when I’ll be inspired to write again as I did in Civita—and where I’ll find that stimulation.
Hanging upside down last night, I realized what this boils down to: after nearly ten years, I’ve stopped seeing Seattle with new eyes. I’m seeking foreign places in search of a new way to see the world without acknowledging the fact that I’ve simultaneously stopped examining my home town with fresh vision.
It was about that time that we tumbled off of our blocks as a class, panting and pink-faced, but reborn.
Later, as we helped each other stretch by extending our legs over one another and holding on to our neighbors’ ankles, the class tittered thoughtfully. The ridiculous scene that we were creating—men and women with limbs akimbo, stretched out in a palimpsest of bodies that shook with wicked snickers—was such that if a stranger came into the room, there would be explaining to do.
As I lay there holding my friend’s ankle, George’s repeated request for us to see the old world anew took on meaning for me. I thought about the amazing town in which I live—a town that hosts work by Picasso, delicious local food, musicians and actors who provide live entertainment mere steps away from my home, underground dinner clubs, paved streets where the old bricks peep through like secrets resurfacing, and Anusara yoga classes that inspire this new thinking—
—in that moment, it seemed like a shame that these things have become dull or expected in any way.
Instead of skipping to my car after class, I used my enthusiasm to codify a resolution: in 2011, I will move out of my comfortable but dull routine and find new ways to see Seattle.
When I began to consider the many things I haven’t done—neighborhoods like Madrona or Georgetown that I haven’t explored, landmarks like the Japanese Garden or the Museum of Glass that I’ve never visited, and venues in my own community (Queen Anne library, pool, farmer’s market) in which I’ve never participated—I realized that there’s a whole new world out there.
Thankfully, I’ve come to see how much of it rests in my own backyard. Pretty close, as the crow flies.