If I have done this correctly, it is Christmas day (Boxing day for those of you who are email subscribers). If all is on schedule, I am basking in warmth (though possibly with lots of rain) witnessing ritual that in form is another world than Christmas in the cold United States. At another level, it is all one–a deep and heartfelt yearning for and an offering of love. Whatever your beliefs, whatever you are doing on this day, and however you might practice or worship, if at all, I wish you all much love, peace, and joy.
As I was finishing my lunch today, my server came over to see if I wanted dessert or something hot to drink. I declined, but she chatted with me a little. I had made a reservation for two, but ended up eating by myself, and she took the time to be friendly. “I didn’t think to bring my journal,” I said, “though I did have the Blackberry to blog.”
“I always have a couple of magazines with me, but at least you are near the kitchen and can enjoy watching the food come out,” she added.
“It’s my favorite spot. I always ask for this table,” I replied.
“Some diners don’t like it. One diner posted a review on ‘Yelp’ saying that the food was good, but complained that they always stuck him near the kitchen.”
“Not me. It is so much fun to look at all the possibilities and expand the feast with the eyes.”
As I was eating, I had felt a minor trepidation because I thought of myself as sitting at a plum table. The restaurant was crowded, and I knew that by ordering only a salad entree, the server was not getting the tip on a table for two (a table that I never would have gotten with a reservation for one).
I was sad my friend could not join me. We get together about once a month to catch up and to eat good food, and we always enjoy our lunches. After I was already sitting down at the table, I had gotten a message that she had gotten off the metro and was heading to the restaurant when her firm had called her back to the office to handle an emergency.
As I was already seated and had water poured, I decided to stay and eat. Two trains of thought while I was eating stayed at the forefront.
Though the food was lovely and I affirmatively like dining in solitude, it was not quite as tasty eating alone than sharing with someone who likes to share and discuss the food when that was what I had been expecting.
More important, though I was bummed, missing the opportunity to swap stories and enjoy the company of my friend, I was incredibly grateful that this was my big disappointment for the week. I am sure it was harder for my friend than for me. I was still getting a break and a nice meal. She was dealing with an emergency of some sort and also disappointed not to have our treat of the monthly lunch. I am sure she is, too, keenly aware that her disappointment and the emergency she was addressing were small compared to the suffering that so many millions of individuals face each day.
I left lunch with my appetite sated, my tastebuds replete, and my resolve firm both to savor everything more deeply and to try to live in a way that spreads more joy and alleviates suffering.
And I left a big tip to thank the server for being kind and sent proposed dates to my friend to reschedule.
Peace and light, E — Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.
Later in the week, I will enjoy bundling up when I go outside. October is a delightful month.
To study with Paul Muller-Ortega, to gather with fellow students, to meditate, and to chant (with reverence, sensitivity, and honor) the names of Shiva.
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When I came out of my afternoon asana practice and meditation, I picked up the John Friend Teacher Training Manual to look up one of my favorite passages. In describing the “attitude” that brings us to our deepest practice, John Friend writes that there are two reasons to practice yoga: “1. Co-create in the art of life. 2. Realize and awaken to our divine nature.” John Friend, Anusara Yoga Teacher Training Manual (9th Ed., Anusara Press 2006). He explains that sometimes we come to our mat because we are happy and we want to celebrate. Other times, we are sad or confused and we want to remember our essentially divine, blissful nature. This particular teaching has continues to resonate for me. I find great comfort in it because it recognizes that we do forget; we will not always act perfectly. All life, though, is part of our practice, and we can keep trying to co-create and remember the light in all beings in our daily lifes just as we keep can coming to the mat.
It is always a temptation for me to stay home when it is cold and dark, to miss yoga class (when I am student, not teacher), to do my own practice and read and cook and play with the cat, rather than to be more engaged with all that is outside — friends, group yoga, and all the offerings of the city. I am always happier, though, for having gone out. Home is much more pleasing after an interlude with the outside. And if I dress right, it is even enjoyable to walk out in the cold, dark, rain, and say hello to all the dog walkers.
I used to note the first day of winter as a marker of the long, cold and dark season ahead. Now I mark the first day after the solstice as the an opening to the light. In only a few weeks, even though the weather will be wintry, the days will be noticeably longer. This time of year, I walk on the sunny side of street and choose the middle of the day to be outside, in contrast to summer, when I walk in the morning or late afternoon on the shady side of the street. When I went out at midday for a long walk, the light was almost blindingly bright. The blazing sun seemed that much more of a treasure for the cold blustering wind and the shortness of the day. That the light was so clear and vivid seemed an apt reminder that going through periods of cold and dark can clear us for newly illuminated paths if we are only open to the sources of illumination — inside and out.