A Child

Am I supposed to heed a message when I hear the same thing more than once from two unrelated sources?

I am thinking so, even if it’s a message I don’t want to hear. The message today: In many respects, I am like a child. At my age, how can this be?

When I first started yoga, the poses really clicked with childhood memories of tumbling on my front lawn with neighborhood kids, of gym class in elementary school, of good times when I was little with no cares and no fears. I was all over the trampoline. I could do walkovers and back bends. I cartwheeled and somersaulted all over the front lawn.

And now, I am grown. A responsible adult, as my niece and nephew tease me, laughing at what they consider ironic. To them, I’m an overgrown kid! They don’t think like I thought when I was younger. When I was younger, I thought that once you were an adult, you were all grown up. That was an endpoint in my young mind.

As an adult, I would not have guessed that I would be doing handstands and yoga whatnot at my age, much less looking forward to it and doing it all week long, having never really exercised much before. So, in this way, I do feel like a child, and that’s a good feeling!

Recently, someone to whom I look for wise advice surprised me. He told me that he sees me almost like a child! I couldn’t understand this, because I feel more than grown up! I have raised my children on my own, handled my own finances, bought a house, a car, found a job and generally have made lots and lots of “grown up” decisions over the years.

He was, however, referring to another type of growing up. He was talking about growing into my whole self, not looking to others for validation and growing into what he calls my own power as a woman. This gave me pause, because I never see myself as challenged in this way, and it made me think of the profound quote from an essay by Marianne Williamson that I had previously made certain to impress upon my children:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

I am not supposed to be afraid of myself!

I had my annual physical later that same day, only to have the doctor tell me that my lab results were so clean and healthy that they looked like those of a child.

“You don’t drink, you don’t smoke, and you don’t have any fun!” he joked.

A joke to him, but real to me. I have lived a quiet life for some time now. Most likely, I have not realized my potential power. Unfaced fears can act as a fortress. And apparently I have launched my children but not myself1

Within a few days, I was back in the yoga studio. We were in Utkatasana, or Chair Pose. Standing with legs and feet squeezed tightly together, I dipped my hips low with my knees bent, heart lifted and arms sparked upwards alongside my ears. This is a pose that we do several times in every practice. It is nothing new.

“This is a familiar pose,” the instructor said. “But today I want it to be brand new to you. I want you to experience it like a child.”

I sat in my imaginary chair like a child. It was a difficult pose, but this grown up yogi found comfort in her seat, even so.