Breath as a bird over syllables

While picking up a book to borrow from the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Library, I checked with the librarian to see if she’s receiving book donations. Yes, she is. I’m grateful to re-home some of my books with her in preparation for moving back West. The library has been an extension of my home the year I’ve lived here.

After all, books are like bodies, holding stories, becoming more beautiful with wear until one day, yep, they’re beyond repair.

When we lived in Sacramento, Matt built a Little Free Library box that I maintained with donations. A little temporary home for books. A part of the landscape we read with words and emotions.

What I’ve learned in the last few years is this: Each body is a home place in the neighborhood of an ecological community, human and otherwise.

What on earth could be more important than knowing our own bodies, recognizing our bodies as part of nature? 

As we appreciate more fully the gifts of our own lives, we appreciate more deeply the beauty of all the animal and plant life we live among. The exchange of life force every time we eat, we breathe, we converse, we dance, we make love. What could be more beautiful than to know and celebrate the intricacies of interconnection?

Every heartbeat massages the lungs; every breath massages the heart. Breath and heartbeat are reliable rhythms of life.

Everything is connected. One affects another. Every thought, every breath, every choice and gesture matters. Every action stirs the air. We see this in moving leaves.

When asked what the physical practice of asana means to them, students often respond, “making space.” I spoke with an artist friend about giving away possessions, “making space” for the next idea, the next project. During the dozens of moves I’ve made from place to place, I’ve donated hundreds of items. Another friend remarked on how little I retain now. I think about flying off to college with no more than a suitcase, then coming back on a winter break to empty my childhood home. Criss-crossing the country with only what fit in the car’s boot. Moving in with my to-be husband in fewer than 20 minutes: He cleared half the desk and a book shelf and emptied a dresser drawer.

“I must be unencumbered,” was the refrain of a poem I wrote sitting on the floor of an historic house in Kernville, Calif., during a workshop with Susan Zwinger.

It’s taken many rounds of my life’s minute hand to realize that I give away belongings to deepen a sense of belonging.

I seek to settle, moment-by-moment, into whatever space exists within a poem or a pose, a conversation with a stranger, or physically, hand-in-hand, for example, while walking with a friend. Because everything changes, everything is connected, and if human beings have a purpose it is to pay attention.

Surely, letting go and welcoming in are two sides of the same silver coin of change. During yoga asana this idea, and all ideas, get dropped off in the bins at the Goodwill of Nowhere and Everywhere, while life itself is lived. There are always more ideas to be had at the upscale shops and thrift stores.

Here’s one I found at a consignment shop: How is the very act of living a ceremony? How is this breath, this one carrying you like a bird over the syllables you’re reading, a home practice?

I’m going upstairs, unrolling my mat, establishing a seat, aligning with the present breath, neither thinking nor pondering, solely facing what emerges, what expresses through the body of movement.