A Door-buzzer at an Apartment in Pisa, Italy.
Susan Michael Barrett, photographer.
“You can do it,” Holly says.
The words sound like staccato dings on the side of a pinball game.
(I'm in yoga class and our beloved yoga teacher Becky Klett has just called out the next pose: “Prepare for the upward wheel pose.”) I’m afraid of that pose, and instead raise my butt off the ground (into bridge pose) while others lift into the full posture.
Holly lifts her body with feather-lightness, holds, and sets herself down. She sits up and looks over at me.
“You’ve done much harder things. You can do it.”
My friend’s message startled me. It was a forced awareness. Like being on a walk when a crow caws. With a fuller presence, I stop and look up at the bird.
I have a history of adapting to, overcoming, and surviving challenging experiences. Why wouldn’t I be able to do a backbend?
When things are hard, I tend toward habitual thinking: You know, “I’m too inflexible. Too old. My hands will slip and I’ll break my neck. I can’t. Why try?” So, when my friend says, “You can do it,” she’s saying that I can put down whatever inner burden I’m obsessing about and connect to a larger perspective. I realize that I can simultaneously be scared and believe I can do wheel pose.
I connect with teachings about now.
I’ve read the phrase “you can do it” in books by Pema Chödrön (Awakening Loving-Kindness) and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (The Sacred Path of the Warrior). They both say that this phrase is about becoming aware and taking a bigger perspective as a path to being awake and alive, curious about the present.
I can choose to put down whatever burden I’m carrying and become aware of when my thoughts, beliefs, words, or actions hold me hostage. When I’m scared and thinking I can’t do a wheel, when I think I’m unable to go into the market and ask for lime remover for the washing machine, in Italian, or find the bus to Siena, on time, this Saturday—well, these are hostage situations. The result? I shut down. To possibility. To the good that is available.