On Friday I got a chance to hang with Doris. She is 94; spry, nimble, full of life. “I hurt my back 45 years ago when I picked up a box of peaches.” “That’s a long time to be in pain,” I say to her. “Why don’t you lie on the mat and we’ll work on fixing it together.” Doris laughs. “No, I like the chair. Let’s practice handstands.” “O.K., we will, but let’s warm-up your back.” Reluctantly, she whips out the ball and strap and we begin a slow unraveling, riding the breath, opening energy channels, easing our way towards a broken open heart.
I understand the desire to want to be upside down, to remove myself from the present moment, look sideways, lean away from the pain. I’ve known the lure of discombobulation, the dizzy fervency of misperception, the delusional disarray of disconnection, feeling sure that I will figure it out, tough it out, live it out. Always believing I knew the brighter, bolder more beautiful way. It’s enervating and exhausting, and my body often hurt a lot as well.
45 minutes in and Doris has been working hard. We are finally practicing her beloved handstand against the wall. “How do you feel? Noticing any difference? How’s your back?”, I ask quietly, having some skin in the game. She smiles, “good, never better. The ball work helped. You were right.”
I stay quiet, savoring the connection, admiring the awareness that even modified upside-downedness can manifest. Sometimes energies collide in the most unexpected, eventful and earnest of ways; shifting, transforming, transcending the old and inviting in the new. And I know that Doris and I have reached an inspiring and expansive place of immutably fresh and shimmering open-heartedness. There’s a lot of love here, and mutual respect, and room to grow together. And on this day, in this moment, that is more than enough.