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Wisdom From Trees

September 27, 2011
The steam rose out of the sink, holding my hands and the dish they washed. The dish and I were in a warm cloud of the water’s vapors while my hands deftly cleaned the bowl. I placed it on the white, waffle drying towel and picked up the next vessel to wash.
As I cleaned, I breathed. I slowly inhaled and luxuriously exhaled. I felt the fingers of oxygen infiltrate my mind, my legs, my arms. The air, laced with steam, filled me. I encompassed that moment so fully. It was so decadent. Simple.
Lately, my mind noodles the concept of balance. Ah, the ethereal life Balance. I’ve often mused that balance is a lot like the steam that surrounded me at that moment with my dishes–vaporous and impossible to sustain.
Last year, I frequently felt rushed. I often unknowingly held my breath, switching from one To Do to the next, harried and somewhat frazzled. Like time just passed through my fingers. Definitely not peaceful or balanced. I often thought,
If I could just do it all better, more efficiently, I’d feel better and have more time. IF I could better balance my responsibilities and desires, I’d be like those other people who get So. Much. More. Accomplished. Than. Me. I’d have more air. More space.
So, I tried moving faster, but instead of registering balance, I found scattered and not-present. I know life doesn’t have to be either-or, but I kept feeling as if I wasn’t doing any one thing well. When I was trying to eek out some writing, I should’ve been starting dinner. When I was putting my sweet kiddos to bed, sentences, aching to be written, danced temptingly in my head. My desire to enjoy my writing career chaffed up against my desire to manage my family, our home and our lives.
My truest desires were at odds with each other.
As this school year began to churn to its own cadence, I listened to my own beat. One rhythm dominated and repeated: Balance. Balance. Balance. It chimed as frequently as the Yoga beats I heard this summer. I quietly challenged myself to find a different way. This different way has manifested in: decluttering closets and my calendar. Cleaning and organizing work spaces. Planning meals and actually cooking them (don’t laugh). Sitting in the red andirondack chairs in the driveway while watching the kids make chalk dust, and listening to their aimless chit chat.
An easiness that has been missing started to soften my edges. But. I wasn’t writing.
I’ve been thinking about writing. A LOT. And I’ve been writing in my notebooks, spinning pitches, thinking on paper. But that fodder isn’t making its way into posts here, in this space.
As I stood at the sink, with my steam and my dishes, I suddenly thought of one of my favorite yoga poses, Tree (or Vrksasana, whose Sanskrit name I include because I’m trying to learn the beautiful words for these poses). When I am in Vrksasansa, I feel the grounding of my foot on the earth. I stretch up, body in unison and totally balanced. I focus on my my body. My breath. THE MOMENT. From the not-very-shocking department, the minute I mentally leave the pose–when my brain wanders to dinner, to writing, to cobwebs–I fall. Balance gone.
The definition I used to attribute to balance was something like:
I will achieve balance when I figure out how to do it all well and effortlessly.
I just need to try harder.
Uh, no. I’m finding my way to a new definition:
Balance is not proficient multi-tasking. It. Is. The. Opposite. Balance is doing one thing, whatever THE thing is, well. Fully and wholly. Balance is acceptance of the current moment. Balance is being there, foot and mind firmly planted in the present.
I put my last dish on the dish towel to dry. I dried my hands on the soft, faded green hand towel, noticing the ridges of my prune-like fingertips. Outside my kitchen window, a small brown leaf drifted from a tree. Thoughts for this post percolated. I turned to my next moment, and my children, and smiled.
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