Valentine’s Day: whether you love it or loathe it, it seems to be one of the most divisive holidays on our cultural calendar. Got a sweetie to celebrate with? Maybe you adore the day and look forward to it (or maybe you break out in an anxiety-induced sweat, wondering what’s expected of you on a day like this.) On the other side of things, did you happen to recently suffer through the World’s Worst Breakup, or find yourself living in the Longest Dry Spell in History? Perhaps this day leaves you a little cold.
No matter what, though, I think we can admit that the definition of love illustrated by all the Hallmark cards and boxes of chocolate is a little bit…shall we say…small in its reach. The way the commercials talk about it, it’s as though love is a commodity that we all have to get, keep, maintain, refurbish, and hold on to for dear life–because, it’s assumed, THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU’RE BORN WITH! You have to GET it! But then you might LOSE it! So you should probably WORRY ABOUT IT!
Let’s take a step back. I mean, yes, things like loneliness and heartache are real. You know what else is real? The fact that we’re all alive, human and, to at least some degree let’s hope, open-hearted enough to be able to participate in what that basic aliveness and humanity means. When we get down to that, I think, we get down to the raw materials of what love is in the first place.
The philosophy teacher with whom I’ve studied for many years, Dr. Douglas Brooks, has on several occasions mentioned a beautiful story in which he was leaving India, and his own teacher, Appa, in order to return home after a long time studying on the subcontinent. As a means of encapsulating the point of many years of study in the traditions of yoga, Appa said to Douglas simply: “Love your life. Love your life.”
It’s a story I come back to over and over again, in particular when I find myself stuck in indecision, self-doubt, or the fear that (insert your favorite worry here) will happen and I will be left unable to move forward. “Get over yourself,” I usually whisper. “How are you gonna love your life right now?”
The answer usually comes in the form of stepping outside to see the sky, or going to hug my kids, or telling my husband a joke, or going to practice in a yoga class with other people and remembering: I am part of this whole human experience, a shared sort of heart. There’s nothing I have to get, earn or worry about losing. It’s as near as my next breath, it’s never apart from me. Or from any of us.
I hope your practice, in whatever form it takes, brings you moments of remembering what it feels like to love simply being alive, with no pre-requisites, fine print or apologies. Thank you for being a part of the community that keeps me remembering.
Much love and thanks for reading,
Erin H/Grassroots Yoga