An Open Letter to My Practice:
Happy 15th anniversary. Forty percent of marriages have ended but we’re still together. It’s our crystal anniversary. Does that mean that you will finally be clear to me? Unlikely. You’re my greatest mystery, my largest enigma and that’s just fine. That’s you.
I remember how we met. I remember wanting to cry because I couldn’t figure anything out. I remember cursing barrettes because they pressed into my skull. I remember wanting to leave you right away because you pushed me too hard, too much. Well, that wasn’t true, was it? I was just a stubborn, scared, introverted child with a crippling fear of breaking my neck. You ended up teaching me, within those first six months, that I was strong. Beautiful. Able to break but able to withstand the pressure of fear, discouragement.
You taught me that I was a hungry person with ambitions hidden deep inside my belly.
I was eight and you were timeless.
I fell in love more deeply with what you offered each time the belt around my waist turned colors. I morphed from yellow sunrises to green springs to purple nighttimes. Now, I’ve turned again into the darkest corner of the Mariana’s Trench. I can no longer see the art you brought to me. The pressure is insurmountable but simultaneously gone. I can only feel the heavy presence of your influence all across my skin.
You never were easy to figure out, not even close. My hands fumbled around your mysteries. My arms bent and gave out under the strength of your existence but somehow your spirit always gave power to my legs. My hips always snapped beneath the gentle shadow of your guidance. I could always feel what you wanted regardless of if my body and mind knew how to process it. I could always feel it.
I don’t know when I started loving you. I don’t know when you set a fire in me that only you could keep burning.
But I know it’s there now and that every time I come home I can taste you in the air. Home is anywhere. I carry you with me.
I think it was when I was ten years old, only two years into our relationship, that I realized you were going to be here forever if I let you stay. I pulled a muscle in my back, okay I pulled a few muscles in my back. And I didn’t want to stay away. You were calling me. Telling me you were sorry that I got hurt. Telling me I would get stronger. My body would heal and my mind would force me to conquer the pain.
I never wanted to leave you alone again.
Then, you remember, the clouds rolled in. My fear returned with a vengeance but it didn’t last long. Hardly a year because my life started crumbling. What a strong shelter you were for me.
With shaky hands, you fended off the demons starting their revolution. You pushed down the rebellion growing inside of me. You gave me life. You gave my heart a place to cry, to beat, to burn. You gave my mind a place to die. Within the walls of your home, my thoughts could go to sleep.
Was it always this simple? I loved you and you loved me? I was there to validate your existence, you were there to validate mine?
No, it wasn’t.
We had our fair share of ups and downs. We still will, won’t we?
There were days I hated you. There were days I felt euphoric. The cycle ate at me and ate at me until I saw your pattern. I fell in love with the struggles, the victories. I yearned for the highs, the lows. Your voice whispered to my spirit. Your hands pushed at me and pushed at me, constantly molding me into something else. Until one night my arm crunched beneath your power and all there was left was
You were gone.
I don’t know why you left me, but you did. You dropped off my radar and I was lost. You were gone. I sat at home, watching the hours tick by. Watching the days crawl by. Feeling bits of my body die as my soul necrosed. You were my blood supply. One of the pumps in my heart. I was dying.
I ran. I biked. I made love in the shadow of pale moonlight. But I dragged my dead arm behind me like a monster in a book, incomplete and inhuman without you. The longer I had to spend caged up away from you, the more I decayed.
I forgot the sound of your voice. I forgot the touch of the cold mats. I forgot the smell that followed you from dojo to dojo. I forgot what we tasted like together. I forgot all about our passion. You stopped talking to me the day that my arm crunched. I didn’t hear your voice for two years.
When I came back to you, you didn’t come back to me.
I screamed and cried. I wanted to set fire to everything in me, in you. I hated what you had done. I hated that you drew me into some deep cave and blocked the entrance out.
But I kept coming back until the day my well of emotions towards you had emptied.
You gave me something new.
Something stronger. Something more eternal. And that’s where we are today, sitting in the stew of our strength. Laughing together besides the fire of our efforts. Feasting on the fruit that took fifteen years to ripen.
I feel good, happier with you than I ever have been. I’ll never understand you, that much I know, but it seems to me that when I clasp my belt in both hands after I tie it, remember what you’ve done to and for me, I think…just for a moment…I might see the shadowy outline of your shape. When I look down at my name sewn in autumn orange across the blackness, I think maybe my eyes are beginning to adjust to this light. When I see myself with you hugging yourself around my waist, supporting my power, I think that maybe I have begun to make out the shape of your laughter. Maybe I have finally begun to learn how to never forget you.
Happy anniversary my precious practice. Here’s to bleeding and breathing together again tomorrow. Here’s to twisting together more today than yesterday so that one day I won’t know where I end and you begin. Here’s to the cosmos that birthed you. Here’s to us.
Here’s to us.