My children and I are finishing our first week of making small steps toward homeschooling. This week my seven year old son began a study of Martin Luther King Jr., wrote his ¨version¨ of the ¨I Have a Dream¨ speech, learned long addition to the hundred thousand place, and read two novels. Oh, and his handwriting remains at a kindergarten level, and our work together on this subject reveals every shortcoming we both have (coordination on his part, sustained patience on mine).
My five year old daughter is studying sight words, handwriting, and playing, something she received in grossly small measure in ¨regular¨ school. She is also presenting a potentially real capacity for art and color, a gift certainly not inherited from her mother, whose ability to draw consists of creating a circle and a line and calling it a flower.
All of this has proved rather challenging with a 16 month old girl running around in varying degrees of fussiness; the cleanliness of her diaper seems to run parallel to the intensity of our academic focus.
As it happens, the week the children left school falls within the same span of days I had my last meeting with my therapist, realized I have no reliable childcare, finally admitted to myself how desperately I want to dance professionally with a modern company here in Denver, and returned to teaching yoga. The result of all this has left me feeling as though I am doing trivial amounts of everything in a sea of nothingness. I am everywhere and nowhere, but not in some lovely divine sense. I feel more like stagnant water: eventually change and evaporation will occur, but for now… muddle.
How will I not lose myself in this project? Will I be able to dance, to practice, to teach, to write and travel, to read, perhaps see this man I call my husband occasionally, and still be the primary educator for my children? Or will I do just a bit of everything and succeed at nothing? These are the worries that roil my mind as I find myself sadly and blindly flipping through the Zara website at 11PM. (Oh, to be wearing those heels and that backless dress and taking the subway at dawn, watching the sun come up over the East River after breaking hearts and dancing all night.. such are the late night musings of someone who feels, despite her full closet and schedule, more like a Mother than a Woman.)
At the height of my nervous breakdown, which lasted for many months, I imagined my future, when I had the strength to do so, as a comatose drugged river of time, a side-lined waiting for my demise. Death, the savior. Death, the release. Never did it occur to me that the slow stumbling climb out of despair’s depths could lead not only to a return to life, but the creation of a new, brighter existence. My nervous breakdown occurred during and after my pregnancy with my youngest child; I see it now as its own kind of birthing, but one in which the labor almost killed me and I was carrier, deliverer and mid-wife.
And now, I am alive. Alive and lucky: my children are healthy and smart and beautiful and well cared for. They never go hungry for anything: love, food, stability, and their mother’s adoration are the ground upon which they deservedly and unconsciously stand. I am also alive to my own internal ambition and potential: dancing, writing, the earnest practice of yoga and meditation, and the sharing of that practice through teaching. This adds up to nothing short of sheer abundance.
However it is an abundance I experience, oddly, in solitude. The breakdown I lived through, the eccentricities of my obsessive mind, have washed me up to a beautiful but lonely shore. I remember a particularly poignant moment in a teaching the great Iyengar teacher Manouso Manos gave, in which he recounted speaking to his Guru, BKS Iyengar. Manouso said, ¨Sir, I am lonely, and I think it is the Practice that is making me so. The Practice makes me more alive, but it is lonely too.¨
Mr. Iyengar responded, ¨Manouso, wait until lonely becomes Alone. And then you will abide in practice as a happy and meditative, but solitary soul.¨
Terrifying it is, to embark on an awakened life, or at least one in which one is attempting to awaken to some sort of clarity of vision and spirit. Homeschooling, dancing, yoga, writing and teaching: in all these endeavors I feel like a child wandering down a silent lane. Everything new, unknown. But underneath, from some mystery that must remain contained within itself, emerges a new, sustained curiosity. And the curiosity itself is a teacher; one can only hope its character is not mercurial in nature, and that eventually the lonely endeavor of fully living becomes a simplified, satisfied Aloneness.