When Even Yoga Pisses You Off: Finding Ease in the Effort to Look Up

4:45AM on Monday morning and my alarm sounds. Well, the first of three. I begrudgingly drag myself out of bed at 5:07 and am somehow out the door at 5:36 to make my 6 AM lift. I’m late for work, lugging three bags and a yoga mat onto the subway because I still haven’t found a bag that effectively transitions me between work and my workouts. Scrambling around pockets and crevices for my KeyCard, I realize I left my work ID in my apartment. Shit, it’s Monday.

My stream of consciousness is noticeably bitter. The question that sticks out in my head is a simple one: “Why?” The answer, much more complex.

Anger is foreign to me. It knocks me off balance, it heightens discomfort. My shoulders rise closer to my earlobes, my teeth clench, my brows furrow, my breath quickens. Fight-or-flight mode is fully engaged, and I can't seem to let go. After a series of post-workday vinyasas, my body felt lax, but my thoughts still held an intensified edge. Otherwise known as, "I left yoga wanting to punch someone in the face."

Unsatisfied, I resorted to what I often do when I need to grasp a sense of peace within (or at least, convince myself that I'm still capable of it).  I poured my favorite seven dollar riesling into a coffee mug and walked down to the Race Street Pier. I’m more of a sunrise and coffee kind of girl, but the water was calling, the sunset inching closer. I never just attend the sun's scheduled decent. I crave the transitions, the in-betweens that often go ignored. As I walked around and read some of the penmanship etched into the railings, one sentiment found its way into my heart:

“Look at all these open canvases to write upon… Now look up at the bright lights of the night to wish upon, the stars you gaze at may already be dead or dying, but to you they are still as bright as the day you first saw them…first saw HER!!! The only difference is that her love shined brighter. And her love never dies…leave dying to the body, because love, love lives forever.”

Corny, cliché, and oh so poorly written--it's tragic, but the intention is not.  Living in a city, I don't see many stars in comparison to the agricultural reserve of Maryland I once called home. Or at least, I don't care to devote my efforts to searching for them here. Ah... effort.  It was not until the value of their presence was brought to my attention that I noticed their absence.

Our actions serve as testaments to what matters to us. A combination of our jobs, friends, families, hobbies, and habits build a complex puzzle of "us." Somewhere between all of our "I'm on-the-way's," appointments, and deadlines, is emotional attachment. Invested interpersonal effort. The people we make time for. The relationships we choose to maintain. The energies we allow into our lives. That all too familiar conversation in which both parties say, "We should really get together soon," but neither follows up. Effort--it's a choice.

I've been known to burn bridges. Cumulative years of disrespect, naivety, and a hurting heart have developed into a zero-tolerance attitude as a mode of self-protection. Some things just take time to heal, and I'll re-open a door when I see fit. Although, there are some doors that will remain sealed forever. I have become skilled at honest communication, and it is a way in which I have found great satisfaction in my relationships. What I need to pay closer attention to is expended effort, especially as graduate school approaches.

The reality of working and going to school full-time is daunting, but it's something that I've been preparing for over the last two years. Add in yoga, lifting, writing a book (yes, that's actually happening as of three weeks ago), hiking, and associated keys to Emily's happiness, and I'm not going to have much time. I crave meaningful and intimate relationships. I want the people I surround myself with to matter to me, I want the time we spend together to be equally as valuable and productive. I want growth. I want each of us to reflect and notice a positive impact since entering one another's lives. No one wants a friend or loved one to keep us at a level of stagnancy--but maybe that's just an Emily thing.

I have a bad habit in which I stay in relationships, and even friendships, longer than I should. I have a big heart. It is likely my greatest fault. I forgive and forget. Or at least, I pretend to. Highly sensitive and open about my feelings, I still hurt. Subconsciously, I keep myself at a safe distance because of the past, in fear of overstepping my place in the present. I internalize intimacy.  I have never felt that I have met the concept of enough--whatever that loose definition may be. I've never felt like that star when someone looks up. I know I'm that star. Surely, I know I am capable of that love. But I haven't felt like her.

And it's not that there is a need to feel like her. I don't think that's a need anyone should claim or seek. I'm in a good place. I am happy, noticeably happier. I have a high standard of growth and success set for myself. I have no reason to complain or emanate negativity and anger. But sometimes, there is a small part of Emily that reflects upon her history, and wishes to spend a sunset with someone who isn't afraid of that depth, or reaching beyond that barrier. I think a similar glimmer of hope resides in all of us. "Maybe we'll both look up at the stars. But maybe, you'll choose to look over at me instead."