Have you ever tried a yoga class in a foreign country?
Once I was visiting a friend in Paris and decided to take an ashtanga class. I don't speak French, but the language of yoga is the same everywhere, so how hard could it be?
As soon as the class began, I was working my peripheral vision to keep pace with my neighbors. I couldn't follow the cueing, so I had to feel my way. I was preoccupied with keeping up when in clear English I heard a firm command directed my way: "foot down". I don't remember if I blushed or laughed, but I was where I needed to be.
I remembered that moment the other morning at slow flow yoga. It was my first time to this particular class. I was the youngest person in the room by at least two decades.
I didn't look like I was in the right place, but tears started to pool in my eyes.
Surrounded by women further on in life, a sense of belonging poured into me. There, among bodies that had lived such full lives, I started to think of every place my body's been to, every time she's come back from sickness to be right there for me. I think of the many months in which she created a heart, lungs, two hands, two feet and made room for my daughter. I think of every time she's shown me "yes" when my head was running scared.
The fact is my body led me to those yoga rooms. I may have looked a misfit each time but my body always leads me to where I belong.
Do you find yourself in unforeseen places? Maybe find that the friends who really get you are a few years older? Maybe seek out your local Buddhist sangha to be among your people?
Sometimes the places we find connection in the world aren't the places we think we fit, so it takes a little effort to keep returning.
I know that it can feel strangely lonely where you truly belong. Because being there might mean that you miss your family, take the long way, or have to write a new story.
If you've been feeling alone, like a rare bird or a lone wolf, I'd like to guide you in taking your place in the wider world. You belong somewhere you feel free. (Thanks, Tom Petty.)