On my drive home from work, once I get off the highway in the North Hills, the back road is scattered with mom and pop shops, local restaurants and other precious gems. I swear, every time I drive down there I notice something new. Yesterday, my mind was busy on my drive home. I was distracted, and it was only by chance that I noticed a new sign that read HOPE is large script. At first, I was intrigued by the positivity the sign radiated, but as I got closer, I could read the smaller script underneath. Hospice Care.
Why on earth would you name a hospice care facility, HOPE. Patients do not typically check out of hospice, we don’t go there to find hope, we go there to find comfort. Are hope and comfort the same? To me, they are not. I find comfort in hope at times, in dreaming and wishing. Those are tools for reassuring myself through positive thought and optimistic ideas. Hope is something you have, comfort can be far more fleeting.
My daily yoga practice gives me hope, hope of peace for the future and hope for my quality of life. I grew up going to church most Sundays with my family. My dad has been an Episcopal priest pretty much my entire life, so attendance, while not mandatory, was typically considered a given. While I never felt fully engaged in my faith, I enjoyed the narrative and the reason it gave to my life. I felt that I understood where I came from as a child, where I would go when life was over, and I never questioned it much until I was older. A friend recently told me she wished her family went to church, if only to give her 5-year-old a few more answers to his philosophical questions.
As an adult, finding purpose has proven far more complicated, perhaps because the consequences of who we are have suddenly become much more serious. While I still have faith in Christianity, my purpose and livelihood comes more powerfully from within myself now. The ability to control my breath, narrate my thoughts and move with grace on my mat has inspired me to deepen the spiritual connections inside and around me. I find synchronicities in my universe that I couldn’t see when I was moving so fast, filled with anxiety and self-consciousness. When you slow down, and listen to your gut, you will find that patterns and “coincidences” are everywhere. For me, I think it’s a combination of my new city, the intentional choices I’ve made in my life, and the new-found connection within myself. I have hope now, when all I could see was darkness a few months ago. There is light inside me, and it feeds from within, from my practice and from the love I have filled my life with.
Every day, I fill in little squares to track my habits. This month, I’ve also been giving each day a score of 1-10. I save the 1’s for tragedy, and the 10’s for the extraordinary. I try not to live in extremes, but in peace. Yesterday was an outlier. Among a sea of 6’s, 7’s, and 8’s, yesterday’s 2 sticks out. July has been good to me. My body feels lean and strong, my mind feels sharp and focused, my heart feels full. But yesterday, I began to lose hope, to feel lost in my strongest relationship. As I spent the month working on myself, I had let the lines of communication with my best friend, my significant other, dwindle and fade. I gave the day a 2, because fighting with your other half is difficult, stressful, and easily one of my least pleasant realities. I could have been more enlightened, given the day a higher score because of the good that came out of it, but then it would have blended in, and maybe I would have forgotten what an important day it was.
By the end of the tears and the fighting and the talking, we were laughing again. We took a drive, going nowhere in particular. When we got home, I spent 30 minutes in my studio centering my mind and trying to clear out the clutter. And then we spent the rest of the night laying together, watching a sweet movie about a dog, and laughing. We dreamed together, looking at a map of the world and picking our next destinations. I learned that Greenland is, in fact, not a no-mans land continent, but a part of North America. (It’s true because Siri told me).
All of the things that were hurting, all of the pains I had were washed away by the love we have, the passions we share, and the tenderness we can show each other. Love wins, love trumps hate, and love will set us free.
I believe that love is enough, if you can love yourself first and spread the joy with others.