It took a while for me to see the tremendous value in the practice of yoga. A lack of understanding led to a complete dismissal without even trying a class. Truthfully, the lack of understanding translated into a bit of fear and, therefore, a decision yoga would not be beneficial. Once I finally did agree to try a yoga class with my wife, the first encounter further tainted my opinion. The best way I can describe the experience is that the class was led by a spiritual whack-a-doodle. I just didn’t get it, or maybe that particular moment was not the time for me to start a yoga practice.
Then came a point in my workout routine where a change was needed. Something new was necessary to remain active but not be so demanding of my body. I decided to give yoga another try, and the second experience was very different. Yoga has since become a regular part of my workout routine. The physical, mental and spiritual benefits are far too many to list here.
After reading the remainder of this introduction and the poem, there will likely be those who think I have become the spiritual whack-a-doodle. Regardless, here we go.
There were only two of us who came to my favorite class one evening. The other person was far across the room and it felt nice to have a lot of open space around me. At the beginning of the session we were in a simple standing pose with the purpose of just “arriving on the mat”. We held a tall posture with shoulders back, palms facing forward and eyes closed. It was a moment of calm as we concentrated on long, deep, controlled breathing in an effort to shut out everything and just be present. As tension trickled out of my body, senses heightened and a recognition came that someone was standing very close by to my right. My eyes fluttered open slightly but remained gazing straight ahead. In my peripheral vision I could see the other person in class had not moved closer, so I turned my gaze to the right. Indeed someone was standing there, but he was somewhat out of focus.
It took a few days, but I did eventually recognize the guy standing to my right. Did anyone else in the class see him? Probably not. But there is no doubt I saw him.
National Pharmacist Day occurs annually on January 12th. You can find a good buddy and celebrate National Shower With a Friend Day on the 5th of February. Grab your earplugs and ring in the Day of the Gong on June 21st. Like tacos? Then October 4th is the day for you. How ridiculous is it that National Absurdity Day falls on November 20th? It seems there is a day to celebrate everything, including superheroes.
Each year, April 28th is the day designated for paying tribute to the action stars of television, movies and comic books. The Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman and Black Panther may all be able to inspire our imaginations and humanity, yet those are not the superheroes I will be celebrating on April 28th.
We all know about superheroes. Their mission is to assist those in need and make the world a better place to live without seeking the limelight. People with these characteristics are around me everyday. For example, my trusted friends who simply listen, provide support and help me to find my own inner strength in times of despair are endowed with superpowers. The neighbors who noticed my mailbox had fallen over and put it back up one evening without even telling me are superheroes. The stranger who paused longer than necessary to hold a door open for me when I was having a particularly bad day – she is a superhero. All of my boot camp buddies who give every possible ounce of effort during a grueling workout have superpowers of inspiration. The one I kiss goodbye each weekday as I leave for work – a superhero with powers that only I understand and benefit from every day.
One of my many personal superheroes inspired this poem. Sorry Catwoman and Green Lantern, but I will be celebrating him and all of the other amazing people I am so very lucky to have in my life on National Superhero Day.
Dealing with change is a major challenge for me. Continuing to move forward when routines and schedules are in flux may be my biggest weakness. While processing a period of change, imagery of a flowing river carrying particles toward its terminus came to mind. All the gathered bits of earth travel along, like sand flowing in an hourglass, and are eventually deposited to create something new at the delta.
Mississippi River Delta. Credit: Nasa Images
A eureka moment happened when it occurred to me that delta is also the symbol used to represent change in an equation. The recognition of multiple meanings for words like ‘delta’ and ‘current’ was intriguing. Sand represented both the passage of time and parts of my routines that were changing. New land is created at the terminus of a river, just like the grains of my life were shifting to eventually create new routines.
Writing this poem helped me get through that time of change. I realized change occurs with breakdown of status quo but also creates something new and fertile.
Let’s take a ride on the river together.
The ability of certain smells to stir memories is fascinating. The scent of Murphy’s Oil Soap puts me in the library of my elementary school where the sour scented soap was used to clean shelves. The aroma of a pepperoni Totino’s Party Pizza instantly transports me to my grandmother’s living room in Rising Sun, Indiana. Spending the weekend with grandma meant Friday evening in front of the TV watching “The Dukes of Hazzard” while splitting a pizza with her and my brother. Food and entertainment quality aside, those are good memories indeed.
There is one aroma with more power than anything to send me back in time. Organic solvents cut through my brain nearly halting every other bit of sensory activity. For decades, my dad worked in a factory around lacquer paint and solvents. The smell of those chemicals would latch onto the fabric of his clothes and then announce his arrival home each weekday afternoon. My brother and I joke that we could always small our dad before we saw him.
On those afternoons when dad arrived home in all his aromatic wonderfulness, he also brought a sense of comfort and protection. There was a period in my childhood when it was just the three guys – me, my brother and my dad.
Each afternoon my brother and I would come home after school, have a snack and watch cartoons while waiting for dad to get home. Sure, it was nice to be home, but until the trio was complete the world was unsettled. Having that solvent smell waft in the door brought balance.
On a recent morning I was walking around an area of my office building that was undergoing renovation. An overwhelmingly pungent smell of organic solvents poured from the door of the suite. It was so strong I felt a bit lightheaded, but as with anytime those aromas enter my nose, memories were set free.