Sunday, February 7, 2010

Signs, signs, everywhere signs...

I think the universe tells us shit. And maybe whether or not we end up happy or miserable depends on how much attention we pay to what the universe is trying to tell us. Lately, I've been paying attention. And the universe has had a lot to say.

I started paying attention back at Christmastime. I was having a particulary down week, which is not typical for me lately. A lot of it had to do with dating nonsense, and exacerbating that was the fact that yoga teacher training was demanding an increasingly insane amount of my time, and I wasn't finding balance in my life to do other things that needed to be done. On a particulary bleak Sunday evening, I found myself in tears, on the phone with my friend, Kiersten who proceeded to explain to me that she thought I should try meditation, and that she had been meditating a lot and it was really helping her.

Here's the thing about being down. Sometimes, it's easier to stay that way. And sometimes, we don't want to hear the things we need to hear to be brought back up and keep trying. On this particular Sunday night, I didn't want to hear it. And I proceeded to give Kiersten every possible excuse why meditation wouldn't work. Undeterred, she started talking about a book she was reading about passage meditation, and how you can just pick a particular prayer of any denomination that means something to you, and say it over and over to yourself. At this point, I got a little freaked and told her I'd been doing that with the Prayer of St. Francis every day, because even though I'm not really a practicing Catholic anymore, that prayer has always resonated with me and brought me an inordinate amount of comfort. There was silence on the phone for a moment, and then Kiersten said, "Coll, that's the exact prayer the author recommends starting with." Okay, universe. I'm paying attention.

Another way I go about keeping myself down is ignoring the fact that I should be writing more. There's always something "more important" to be doing -- bills to be paid, emails to be answered, asana sequences to be compiled, books to be read, episodes of "Jersey Shore" to be watched (horrific, but I actually did watch that show). Although I write far more now than I have in the past few years, I never prioritize writing as much as I should. And I always find myself wondering, if I devoted even half as much time to actually writing as I do to avoiding writing or thinking about writing, how much more successful could I be? What am I so afraid of?

The answer to that is easy. Failure. I'm afraid of being exposed as a fluke, a flash in the pan, a one hit wonder -- pick your cliche. But how will I ever know what I am capable of if I don't try? And if I really had no talent, would I have been published three times already?

The universe answered me by smacking me in the face. Hard. I got a facebook message from a complete stranger who had seen me read at the launch party for The Best of Philadelphia Stories 2. She was asking me to be the featured reader for an event she is having in the summer, and offered me a "modest honorarium." I'm pretty sure that means money. To read my shit. Someone wants to pay me to read stuff I wrote to some people in a coffee shop. That's no joke. I take it as the universe trying to tell me that I have as much shot as anybody to parlay writing into a career, if I put forth the effort to make it happen.

In yoga teacher training, we are reading the Bhaghavad Gita. In it, Krishna tells Arjuna that he must fulfill his dharma, or purpose. The Gita teaches us that we all have a purpose, and that the only way to truly know God (or enlightenment, or fulfillment, or our true Self, or whatever concept works for your 21st century mind), is to fulfill our dharma, and to do work and detach from the rewards of that work. I believe my dharma to be to help others, to write, to practice yoga, and to pay attention. I think it's time to start doing the work.

To that end, I have some writing to do.

All the world is
All I am
The black of the blackest ocean
And that tear in your hand
All the world is
Danglin' for me, darlin'
You don't know the power that you have
With that tear in your hand

--Tori Amos, "Tear in Your Hand"

Paying attention,