Smile Politely

Week Twelve: Everything is Illuminated

So, week eleven of The Yoga Experiment was tough. I was really grumpy and eating crap food all week, and I was beginning to see how heavily the mind and body influenced each other. I was achy and sore, and it seemed like the grouchier I got, the more my body rebelled against yoga. At the beginning of week twelve, I started to feel as thought I was getting sick. I had a headache and low energy for the first few days. It was almost like the beginning stages of the flu. I kept attending classes, though, and Wednesday in Mary’s ashtanga class, I got a good sweat going and I felt SO much better afterward. For the first time in weeks, I felt a loving glow surround me.

Over the weekend, Joel went on an overnight bike trip, and our roommate was out of town, leaving me completely alone in the house for 24 hours. I ordered some empanadas from Manolo’s as I always do when Joel goes out of town to celebrate my solitude. I played the ukulele, I read poetry, I laid on the couch and pondered the universe. By the end of the weekend, I was calm and centered.

By yesterday I was filled with so much love for the world, that I was pretty much crying with joy all day. I was so glad to be out of that dark hole, that everything and everyone looked beautiful. In the evening, I took the dogs out for a walk. When I was nearing home, I saw a woman my age pushing a baby stroller in the park off in the distance, talking on a cell phone. A man was walking by her, and I thought I faintly heard her say to him, “can you help me?” He kept walking, so, curious, I circled back with the dogs to investigate.

As I got closer, I realized that she was trying to chase down a mischievous beagle that had slipped out of its collar. I have been in this situation many times before with Louise, my black Lab, so I knew exactly how much this sucks.

The woman would run towards her dog, but then after she got a certain distance from her baby, the baby would begin to cry. So the woman would run back and push the stroller closer to where the dog had run to, and start again, meanwhile, she was frantically trying to direct whomever she was talking with on her cell phone to the scene. When she noticed me, she called, “What street are we on???” I told her, and asked if her dog liked other dogs. After, she told the person on the other end of the cell phone where we were, she explained to me that it was her sister’s dog, and that she was never going to be nice and walk it again.

I made Nico and Louise sit, then I whistled to the little beagle. When the beagle saw her fellow canines, she perked up, and trotted over to meet them. When she got near us, she laid down on the ground in submission to my dogs, and the woman dove on top of her. “Thank You so much!” she said to me, out of breath. “I never would have caught her if you hadn’t stopped! Three men walked by, and they wouldn’t help me!”

“No problem,” I said, “these things happen.” Just in time, her husband pulled up and jumped out of the car. He grabbed the collar off the ground, and fastened it to the dog’s neck.

As I went on my way, I started crying again. In our society, we trade favors with each other. I’ll bring dessert if you have me over for dinner. You sell me this book if I give you $15. We try to make things fair and equal as much as possible, and this can sometimes lead to the illusion that we are independent, that we are isolated beings that rely on ourselves. Sometimes I feel like these transactions and other generosities are tainted, too. Maybe you don’t really want the cookies I brought for dessert, but you eat one to be nice. I donated money to Haiti because it was the Right Thing To Do, but I wasn’t really that emotionally invested in it.

But it was so beautiful to be able to help someone, to be the exact person that that stranger needed at that exact time. If I had taken a different route I wouldn’t have walked past her; she might have been chasing the dog for another hour, or worse, it could have been hit by a car or picked up by animal control. If that third man had stopped to help, I wouldn’t have been able to receive the gift of being able to be of service. The universe brought us together. A book I am reading would say: the universe is conspiring to shower us with blessings. It’s all about the attitude, and being able to recognize it.


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