Activating the Endings
I read this piece aloud in one of my group classes, on the last day I was to teach the class after acting as a long term sub. This also happened to be the first day of Evanston lifting its mask mandate, the last day of February 2022. The class focused on how to use the hands and feet to activate the core.
We gather here today to notice endings. Shifts. Beginnings. Restarts. Change. How do we move from the morass of winter, the relentless pandemic, personal and political stagnation? Leverage from the edges.
The most distal parts activate the core.
In practical terms that means using your hands and feet to turn on the core. The middle receives, adjusts, moderates and protects. The limbs activate, encounter, find resistance and transmit that force to the middle.
Similarly, the youngest and the oldest activate us in our middle years. It takes so long to get a footing just to find that you're on your way out. The stoic neutrality of it all is a wry backdrop to our naive shock. Some become yogis just to navigate this foreign land. Learn new words, a new language. Learn new customs. Learn new etiquette.
To let things go is a skill. Endings are deliberate.
Beware of excusing yourself from the need to change.
In the timeline of one lifetime, this stimulus from the "endings," the parts furthest from the middle, reflects our deepest hopes and fears: when life begins and when it ends. We hold the coin, the currency, the power: one side is birth, miraculous, overflowing, full. The other side Death, unspeakably empty.
Those events are so startling that they merit ancient unwieldy rituals, anniversaries and holidays.
The day something started and the day something ended. DDay. VDay. 9/11. Berlin Wall. The birth of your child. A painful death of a loved one. So many joyful and painful reminders. Our body knows it, even when we do not.
Have you ever forgotten an anniversary of sorts, a painful day, perhaps the end of a relationship, or the anniversary of a trauma. Years later that time comes around. While consciously you may have forgotten, unconsciously your psyche remembers, it grieves. You might remember that you've forgotten. How amazing to forget, just for a bit.
For things to end, forgetting must seep around us like a fog.
Beware your clinging.
To move past painful losses seems impossible. It's dragged along with us, heavy as a mountain range. The wary 'just in case', the reflexive "I'll will never forget," the defensive "I'll never let that happen again."
When things end we will not feel safe.
Beware your belief that Life can be made safe.
We carry fortresses and monuments to our pain. These are lodged deeply inside us. The yogis said they're buried in us as intractable knots: grunthis. Hopelessly complicated.
For things to end, someone has to disentangle the knots. And when they're loosed, we are in for the free-fall of our lives.
Beware non-gratitude for the Untiers of the Knots.
Here comes the body to the rescue. The meditator: an immobilized torso contemplating it's pain; what can it do? What solution could it ever provide except acceptance? The very shape and stillness demands it. Acceptance melts resistance and stagnation.
For things to end we must accept.
Beware the self righteous trap of indignation.
And yet the friction of non-acceptance mobilizes us. Circumstances, inescapable truths move us, shove us and displace us. Institutions crumble. The edges, the young, they cheer; the edges, the old, they fear.
For things to end there must be friction.