Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes. How do you measure a year in the life?
~ Seasons of Love lyrics, Rent
When is it time to start something new?
And when does that something new become part of what you always do?
Most things seem to have a season, and I’ve always found comfort in the traditions that follow.
Come spring, I always find myself out on the porch and planting flowers in the pots outside the front door. The summer often means slowing down and more freckles. The fall has Halloween and sweaters and boots and Thanksgiving. I hibernate in the winter, coming out only to celebrate the holidays and New Year’s.
Like clockwork, the seasons pass, a quarter of each year like a quarter of each hour; the minute hand like our lives, gliding through what it is we do during those times.
Off schedule and out of the ordinary, I started going to yoga during the fall season a couple years ago, right before my usual winter hibernation.
And something happened once I started the practice. My seasons seemed to collide. It did not really matter anymore what was going on outside. I just wanted to be inside, in the studio and on my mat.
I went to yoga in the dark. I went to yoga in the light. I was there in the cold, in the snow, in the ice, in the rain, in the heat, in the sun, in the clouds.
This came as such a complete surprise to me, the fact that all I wanted to do was practice. Yoga brought me into a new season, one that wasn’t on my calendar, one that I hadn’t planned.
Really, I didn’t know and never thought that there’d be a new season for me.
But gradually and persistently, yoga brought me out of some kind of shell. I had been in some kind of enclosure without even knowing it.
Recently, on a chilly spring day, I was running around New York City with my daughter. She works in the jewelry industry, and her errands often take her to what I call hidden places. Many have their offices in windowless rooms at the top of winding staircases and through locked doors and down narrow hallways, all several flights above the street. You have to know where you are going and, once inside, you can’t even tell what time of year it is outside.
We stepped out of a rickety old elevator and pressed the doorbell which at once sang out the tune, Joy to the World.
It’s Christmas in here, I said to the man who answered.
It doesn’t matter the season, he said, as we collected the pieces we had come to pick up.
I liked how it was spring, how there were no windows to see the sun, yet the doorbell invented the holiday season year round.
The physical practice of yoga has reintroduced me to myself, and I’m still figuring this out. I didn’t know this could happen midway through my life, but apparently, if it can be Christmas in March, then I can embrace a new season for me, too.
I think it’s been the actual moving on my mat that has brought me out of so many years of what I recognize now as a lengthy winter. The movement is energizing. My body moves and so many emotions and feelings that had been in many ways sleeping have come awake.
I don’t consciously think about this. It’s just what has happened. I am just more awake these days, and I don’t want to sit around anymore.
My yoga practice has taken me to several studios, and I seem to be all over town, back to the places I frequented many, many seasons before as a young adult.
One studio is right by where I lived after college graduation, another is near where we used to all go out, and one more is in another spot from my early married days.
So, maybe yoga has me living my life in reverse, seeing that I am at all of my old haunts. It certainly has brought my body back into the shape it was during those days and maybe even stronger, if I dare say.
But reflecting on all this, I have to say I don’t know what’s next.
If I’m not going around the clock as I had been, then where am I headed?
Where does this new season fit on the calendar that I long ago organized for myself but which no longer applies?
Once upon a time, I wanted to be a writer. Yoga put that on the schedule, too. For the first time, I am writing and people are reading.
The other day, I was exclaiming about this to my mother.
I always wanted to write, I said. I can’t believe I’m writing.
And what was it she said back? Of all the responses she could have, what she said to me was, ‘Tis the season!
How she knew, I don’t know. Maybe she has had several new seasons herself.
Maybe we all have.
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Editor: Catherine Monkman