Guest post from my sister, Christine, whom you all met yesterday...
"I am not a chair," I thought last Sunday during my weekly walk up a major avenue at night. I breathed. It was the first relief from all of the general anxiety that had led me to take this walk in the first place. I was about to start my first full week at my internship, and a million thoughts were pulsing through my head, "Does this mean I'm staying in NY? I'll need to find an apartment. And a second job to rent that apartment." And then the thought hit me, just as "I am not a chair," "I am not the city that I live in," "I am not the job I work."
In yoga class the day before, when we went into Warrior 1, the teacher David said in his usual deadpan voice, "I hate to break it to you, but you are not a warrior." I chuckled, and sighed an audible "aaaaw." I really like pretending to be a warrior, especially the warrior in warrior 1, who has just been formed from a strand of hair. (I also really like puffing up my chest during pigeon pose, and imagining myself as a cocky pigeon, chasing after a female pigeon relentlessly.)
While in a forward fold, David said to us, "When I say you are not a 'warrior' or a 'chair,' you say, 'duh.' But what if I say, 'you are not a woman,' 'you are not a 'man,' 'you are not a mother, a father, a daughter, or son.' You may be all of these things at one point in your life, but you are not any of those one things, or even the accumulation of all those things."
He continued, "well if you aren't a chair, or a pigeon, or a warrior, or a mother, or a sister, or a woman, what are you? The simple answer? You are you."
I am me. I am my consciousness that notices all these changes throughout life. I can play the role of being a woman, or a sister, or a daughter, or a teacher, or a journalist, and I can work really hard at any or all of those things and really enjoy it--just like I can pretend to be the warrior who is formed out of a strand of hair, and really enjoy it--but I am bigger than all those things.
Back to that Sunday. It was dark, and kind of late, but if any of the residents on that quiet block in Greenpoint had bothered to look out their windows, this is what they would have seen: a 20-something out young adult laughing, skipping, and dancing almost deliriously. They would have seen her run up to a tree, get into a tree pose, laugh, run next to a car, tip herself into warrior 3, laugh, then find the nearest bench, get into the fierce chair pose, laugh, and continue on her way, pretending to be a whole bunch of things that, in reality, she is not.