I've practiced, learned, and taught at a yoga studio in Northern California for the last two and a half years. That space was a sort of home but I'm moving forward now. Moving moving, crossing a wide expanse of land moving. There have been bigger, more expansive moves in history but this is a big one for me. Through this process I've cycled through thinking, deciding, declaring, transitioning, planning, freaking out, procrastinating, packing, and more freaking out.
Lately, as my time at this home draws closer to an end, I'm engaging more in the freaking out part.
Not the sweating, trembling, panic-attacky freaking out. But the quiet fear that shows up in the mass of half packed boxes and untouched plastic garbage bags on my floor. The sleeping-in-til-noon, the piles of laundry and my turquoise sheets that desperately need cleaning. The mental to-do list in my head that hasn't made its way to paper because then this mess would be real. The written or the spoken words, they matter. They're more real than a fleeting thought.
I stuff and tuck this quiet fear underneath my stomach, ignoring its squirming until the pressure is too much to handle. This is how I internalize fear. If you watch me you'd notice I don't openly show my nervousness; I quiet, I still, and my energy sucks inward like a tortoise. I do nothing.
Fear causes a pause, a seizing up, a halt, a change of gears or direction. Last week I sorted through stacks and worn boxes of old drawings and writing and I began finding clues and insights into a childhood I don't remember very well. Finding some of these surprising, wonderful, and sometimes painful gems means something deeper than nostalgia and sentiment. I'm not sentimental about many of my belongings or much of my past. Instead, the symbolism of this process struck me right in the chest. This move symbolizes transcending years of hurts I don't remember the origins of.
I don't believe in being born again. I don't believe in recapturing a child-like state of innocence, and I don't believe in ultimate bliss, contentment, or the jelly-like blob of unity and love some people preach about. I will never throw out my journals regardless of what they hold. They're still relevant, the words still matter. That life still matters. If I move through fear, it won't be because I've forgotten about it or ignored it. I'll move through it because something mattered more than standing still. Transcending the current moment means honoring the past and reaching out in front of myself simultaneously.
I could easily not act at all and stay where I am. But after a pause, fear demands action, doesn't it? The running. The jumping. The falling. We run towards something or we run away, changing direction. Fear must react against something.
What purpose does me staying in one stagnant place serve? Nothing. It's time to grow, it's time to learn, expand and be bigger. That expansion is always larger than any fear of the unknown. Sigh it out, allow this to escape from the body.
Poems, books, phrases, stories, and memories often show up for me in these moments of panic or revelation. When they do, notice them. I grew up reading Dune by Frank Herbert, and one line from that book will always settle with me: “I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
If I don't push the limits, will I ever be able to remember that I'm still breathing?