Sometimes I listen to him so intently, I forget to do the poses. He talks for the entire hour -his voice low and raw, his eyes closed- about feeling the energy from our core to our tips. He ends every class by telling us that we are beautiful and magnificent. He fascinates me. This delicate Seal with his cocoa, elastic body and intense, brooding energy.
Today I put my mat at the back of the room and tried not to be distracted. But at some point we caught eyes and something happened. Neither of us looked away. He didn’t skip a beat, he kept talking, but his eyes did not flinch from mine. And mine didn’t drop his either. Around me, my fellow yogis were moving into the next position but I stayed, locked. I wasn’t thinking, I just couldn’t look away. He was looking at me without hesitation. His eyes cut through me. That’s why I couldn’t look away But what about him?
I pulled out my journal as soon as class ended and walked out writing, feeling pleasantly unsettled. I wrote down the mantra he instructed us to choose. Banish those negative thoughts- anxiety, depression, fear. What do you need? Repeat it to yourself. I am…
I am alive.
I am connected.
I am free.
I forgot about him on the way home because I had a heated discussion with my sister about pain. I am tired of defending my right to pain. She doesn’t understand how depression eclipses my life, or the weariness of staving it off. I tell her that just because I don’t advertise my daily struggle, doesn’t mean I don’t suffer. I tell her that many people have told me I am the happiest person they know, which is a sign of the marvellous mask I wear. It’s all about perception.
Bali-boy reprimanded me yesterday when he told me I looked fine and I said, I know I look fine, but fine is not good enough for me. I want to look incredible. And he observed that I am always so sure of myself, and I should just accept a compliment. His observation perplexed me. How could I come across as so confident when I feel constantly crippled by self-doubt? It’s all about perception.
I went for a walk this evening. I wore little black shorts, a tank top, flip-flops. Clothes I never wear out side the house. The plan was to pop across the street and get an ice-cream. But when I stepped out onto the street, the summer night hugged me and I started walking. I felt good. I walked for half an hour. When I finally walked into the corner shop and asked for ice-cream, the Chinese geriatric giggled. We had a moment and then wished each other warm goodnights. I felt alive.
I stopped to take in the sky on the way back. The stars are unfamiliar here but I love them anyway. I felt connected.
Almost back home, three young men were loitering by the side of the road. One of them (hot) asked me for the time. I told him without slowing down, my voice cracking with a chuckle, because we all knew he didn’t need me to tell him the time. I felt good. It’s all about perception.
It occurred to me today that perhaps I ought to listen to myself less. That maybe, just maybe, I ought to believe who people think I am. It’s my own perception that is skewed. If I just remember to believe everyone else, I think I’ll be okay. I might be beautiful and magnificent. I might even be free.