I began the solstice morning with a sun salutation, “a humble adoration of the light and insight of the self,” as it says in Yoga Journal.
[I have been practising yoga via Zoom through the pandemic with the amazing Andrea Robertson of bodyandbalance. No matter where you live in the world, you too could improve strength, flexibility and balance.]
On the darkest and longest day of the year, we salute the sun. It is returning to us here in the northern hemisphere—but not for a while. We have months of darkness first.
Darkness is a scary place of uncertainty, but it’s full of possibilities too. Darkness makes dreams came true.
“For the first time, Chris [Hadfield] could see the power and mystery and velvety black beauty of the dark. And, he realized, you’re never really alone there. Your dreams are always with you, just waiting. Big dreams, about the kind of person you want to be.”
The darkness of a movie theatre makes enjoying a movie possible. The images are clear. Any light—from a cell phone, for example—is unwelcome.
Darkness makes us uncomfortable, but it also forces us to focus. If we carry a flashlight out into a black night, we must choose where to shine the beam. We narrow our outlook to what’s important in the moment.
I salute the sun. And I appreciate that, at a time of year when it is less present in my life, I must narrow focus and choose where to shine my beam.
I stroll through the woods near my home, and I run my hands along the gnarled bark of ancient trees. I trail a finger down the deep wrinkles in the trunk, and I think, “How beautiful.”
The twisting growth and grooved skin gives a tree its gravitas and wisdom. In fact, the more gnarled and grooved a tree is, the more we love it.
And yet, we detest those things in ourselves. Why is it that we humans fear wrinkles so much?
According to the Business Insider, in 2020 the “beauty” industry was growing at a historically fast pace. We are more afraid than ever to let our natural selves shine. The industry then was valued at an estimated $532 billion dollars per year, and it’s growing.
We are draining our bank accounts so that we don’t look like trees.
I celebrate a birthday this week. I am older. My knuckles have swollen, so rings no longer slide over them the way they used to. My lifetime of smiles and laughter shows in the grooves that curve around my eyes and mouth. How beautiful.
I’m not the oldest tree in the forest, but I’m not the youngest either. Many saplings grow around me. My wish is that by the time those supple trees reach my age, they will see the beauty of aging.
Once upon a time a three-year-old boy sat in a church. At the front of the cavernous space, far away from him, an adult voice yammered on. The boy squirmed. Squiggled. Stretched out on the floor.
To entertain him, a woman handed him an activity sheet. It had a maze printed on it, full of dead ends and clever diversions.
Happy to have any distraction, the boy sat up and began to trace the path with a finger. He made his way through the maze with delightful disregard for the lines. After blowing through any twists and turns that might have blocked his progress, his finger reached the end.
He raised his arms in victory. “I did it!”
“Yes, you did,” the woman affirmed.
Why tell him that crossing lines isn’t always that easy?
Why burden him with the idea that some lines are best left uncrossed, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out which ones.
Better to send him out into the world excited about obliterating barriers blocking his path. Better to equip him to cross the many lines that need to be crossed.