Two weeks ago I rode against the wind to teach my second yoga class at Truesdell Middle School. News flash, Toto: sometimes in Kansas, the wind blows really hard.
At moments I wondered if I should get off my bike and walk. I pushed the pedals and the pedals pushed back. The river appeared to be flowing north instead of south. Whitecaps sloshed toward me. Don’t even ask about the trees. They danced like whirling dervishes.
The fact is, I was already tired that day. Tired of figuring out my new life. Tired of questioning all the competencies I once took for granted. Tired of waking up in the morning to find questions perched on every available surface.
Leg muscles straining, I thought, I’m not strong enough for this. Something inside me answered back, Not yet.
The kids at Truesdell are excited about yoga. They want to know how to do backbends and splits. The girls line up without hesitation. The boys dare each other to give it a try. A freckle-faced sixth grader says the word chaturanga reminds her of chimichanga. “I’m hungry!” she calls out mid-vinyasa.
I’ve been making phone calls and stopping by customer service desks, seeing if local businesses want to donate yoga mats to the program (the mats we’ve been using are on loan from Urban Oasis). Wal-mart calls back to offer a $25 gift card. It covers the cost of three mats (almost).
I think to myself, It’s not enough. Something inside answers back, Not yet.
On the way home from teaching that second class, the mighty wind was at my back. It’s lovely to glide along, but you hardly feel a thing. Heaven knows it doesn’t make you any stronger.
There’s a Wednesday farmer’s market on the ride home from Truesdell. A new vendor was there that day, a man selling herbs. I nestled chives, thyme, parsley, and lavender into my bike basket.
“That lavender’s overgrown,” the man said. “When you get home, cut it right down to almost nothing.”
I know a thing or two about pruning, but the man’s advice caught me off guard. See, I bought the lavender to replace a plant we’d brought with us from Massachusetts. It died when I left town in August.*
It took a while for me to let go of that first lavender. I kept watering it, imagining that the scalloped leaves were perking up.
Three weeks later, it was clearly beyond hope, but I didn’t know what to do with it. Clarissa Pinkola Estés writes, “In the garden we practice letting thoughts, ideas, preferences, desires, even loves, both live and die. We plant, we pull, we bury. The garden is a meditation practice, that of seeing when it is time for something to die.”**
When I brought the new lavender home, I finally knew what to do with the dead one.
I found a small bag and made a sachet. Now it lives nestled amongst pajamas.
I followed the man’s advice and cut the new lavender down to almost nothing.
When I look at it now, I think of riding into the wind. I think of a $25 Wal-mart gift card. I think about the plant I used to have, which gets me thinking about the life I used to have.
I wake in the morning and survey the quiet city. It’s been two months since we arrived. So many wonderful, small things have begun.
Still, each day a voice inside says, Not enough.
I sit back and listen for the other voice to reply, Not yet.
*David watered the plants in the living room beautifully, but he didn’t realize there were plants in the bedroom. Since I also have a long-standing habit of not seeing things right in front of my nose, I couldn’t blame him.
**I’ve been devouring Women Who Run With the Wolves lately.