Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable,
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.
—The Indigo Girls, Closer to Fine
Twenty-four hours ago, I was at brunch with a couple friends, sitting under an umbrella at a sidewalk cafe. “This is so perfect,” I said. “I love summer in New York City.” And by that, I really meant: I love my life. I often feel grateful for all of the things I have: my job, my family, my health. Yesterday, the possibilities of my day unfolded. I was energized. I went to yoga. I bought a cute pair of sandals.
Today, I woke up slightly hungover and a little despondent. Sundays always challenge my psyche. All of the things I might have accomplished during the week—more writing, more reading, more learning, more meditating, more yoga—slip away. I struggle to relax. I wonder why I can’t find the energy to write a blog post. Filled with envy, I stare at an article on the front page of the New York Times written by someone I went to grad school with. Then I feel bad about being a jealous person.
Depressive thoughts dig ruts in the pathways of our minds so that negativity flows with ease. Positivity, lightness, does indeed have a “call that’s hard to hear.” To move towards the light, we have to reject the voice in our head that tells us we’re not enough. We have to seek an alternative route. We have to carve out space to let the light in. For me, this means yoga. This means staying off of social media and staying present in my life. This means walking to the bodega to buy myself flowers.
Remember: There will always be something else to achieve in life. Something else to accomplish. Someone else who has more than you. But what matters is what you have, what you’ve done, who you are.
In yoga, my favorite teacher always reminds the class to stop looking at everyone else in the room. This is your practice, he will say. It’s your journey. When I started yoga, I couldn’t come close to touching my toes. Now, once I’m warmed up, my fingers graze the floor. It’s an accomplishment no less significant than the woman on the mat beside me who can fold over her legs and press her chest into her thighs. We’re both reaching from where we were to where we are.
A Chinese Proverb I love says it best: “There are lots of paths to the top of the mountain.”