Here I am, a week after Christmas, ready to begin again. To begin again the pursuit of those interests and aspirations that have become the casualties of a too-full life. Things like my yoga practice, like a body that’s fifteen pounds lighter, like writing daily, like this blog.
In our family, fall is “tuna season” – the time when the small business my husband and I own buys and exports giant bluefin tuna for sale in the Japanese sushi market. Tuna season often requires my husband to work 100-hour weeks and to answer his cell-phone at 3:00 a.m. or whenever a fisherman might call to say he’s landing a fish. Overlaying a normal, busy work and school schedule with tuna season means that household duties my husband normally takes care of – like preparing dinner nightly – fall to me or remain undone. It means two to three months of take-out Thai food, pizza, and frozen dinners, a ten-load laundry backlog, sleep deprivation, and very little exercise. Add to this the holiday season, and you’ve got a lot of catching up to do once January arrives.
So now I find myself intent on beginning again, as I do every year. Not only because I finally have time to breathe or because of the requisite New Year’s resolution, but because my birthday falls on January 6th. I usually reassess my life around my birthday and this year is no exception. Only this year I turn 52 and beginning again is not as simple as it used to be.
When I was forty-two, I was confident that within a few weeks of re-engaging my workout routine this body would be looking sleek and renewed. I’d return to yoga or dance-fitness class, not worried that my upper shoulders have taken on a definitive slump (or is that back fat?), or that my hamstring muscles seem to be fused together. I wouldn’t think twice about showing up at class a little out of condition, because a little out of condition meant just that. Today, after an entire fall of too much take-out and chocolate, and a sporadic workout schedule at best, my yoga pants are overstuffed and I don’t feel that I’ll ever see sleek again. I catch sight of a droopy jaw line on the way past the hallway mirror and think the only renewal I might ever expect would be spiritual or surgical.
Yes. I am vain. And I am worried.
Still, hopeless as it feels, I do know deep down that my body and mind–not to mention my soul–will be better off for dancing, for practicing yoga, for writing. For eating salad.
And I also know that beginning again, despite any promise of reward, has its own merits. That something about beginning is as important as the thing itself. That beginning again – with the faith to know that something might come of it, and with the courage to know we will eventually fail – is as important as breathing.
I will try to think of this when I squeeze into the tight yoga pants and throw a loose shirt over the top to hide the embarrassing bulges. I will remind myself, as I rumble over the crushed-shell lot in Wellfleet to park my car that I have never left the yoga studio feeling worse than when I arrived. I will know, before stepping onto the driftwood-silver planks of the wharf that houses Quiet Mind Studio, before swinging the door open, that I’m here because yoga brings me back inside myself, because it reminds me to work without judgment, to simply experience, and – though striving – to also “be” wherever it is that I am. I will sign in with my first name, and, returning my teacher’s smile, will feel sorry for being gone so long. I will remember, as I hang my coat, take off my shoes and set bare feet to wooden floor, lay out my mat and fold blankets into two neat squares, that I belong here. That I belong in this place where our teacher will sit cross-legged in sukhasana to face us and say, “let’s begin.”
“Again,” I will whisper to myself, inhaling, resting palms on thighs, closing my eyes.