Evolution

Sunday afternoon. It’s the first cool, crisp, sunny day in a long, long time. My neighborhood stretches out before me, the clouds wisping in slight arches, making the world feel circular, make me feel like I’m watching what’s in front of me through a fish-eye lens. Or maybe it’s the strange stirring in my soul that creates the illusion.

My hand is intertwined with my husband’s; we’re taking a quick stroll during a small pocket of free time in what is turning into a busy Sunday, a stroll that started by my husband getting up from the couch and going, “The weather’s nice. Let’s go for a walk.” A man who understands how much I need to be on the move in some way, how tough it is to be cooped up.

The world in front of me feels new. In a way, it is: it’s been a over a month of downpours and thunderstorms and oppressive humidity. This sudden calmness feels like someone switched out the movie, and now I’m witnessing a completely different scene.

“Everything feels so different,” I say, “even from just a year ago.

…but it’s a good different. This is a good evolution.”

Last week, the announcement was made public and official: one of the studios I teach at — in fact, one of the very first studios I ever started teaching for — would be closing down in September. It’s something I knew for a little while — even before I was told the news, I could feel it in the air, an energy that felt a lot like endings, and hearing the news brought more relief in the confirmation than anything else.

My first set of classes after the announcement composed of me holding space for my students — students, some of whom I’ve had for nearly four years –as they processed, me trying to create a sense of grounding, trying to apply yogic principles (embrace impermanence, bare witness to the present and breathe through it), and leaving the studio feeling like I had squeezed out every drop of my soul to make that space — but now it left too much spaciousness within me.

Everything is evolving. Life is creating new turns. Turns that have me turning to my husband and going, “You have my blessing to be the good Christian, but I’m going to leave the room.” Turns that have me turning to myself and going, “I can move past things but still hold people accountable and responsible for their terrible behavior.” Turns that have me turning to Kesha’s “This Is Me”, blasting it in my car: “I’m not scared to be seen / I make no apologies.

Turns that are beautiful and scary and amazing and surreal.  Twists and bends that are not unlike the ones on the trail, the ones that egg me on even when my legs turn to jelly and I’m tripping over roots. I feel like I barely got the words, “I think the universe is creating space for something,” out to a cherished friend before the world rushed in and utilized that very space made.

Everything is evolving.  In a little under a month, I will no longer be spending my Fridays teaching at that particular studio.  I will no longer walk into that building, like I have for the last four years. I still have the original set of keys to the place on my carabiner, and soon the newer set will be useless as well.

I know I keep returning to this aspect of the evolution because it is the one tangible form of this era shift. I can touch the walls that will eventually not be mine to teach under.  I can feel the hardwood floors and the hear the clack of the keyboard as I sign students in.

What isn’t tangible are all the things that either don’t happen anymore, or the new things that have cropped up.  What isn’t tangible is the new set of emotions and experiences and revelations, and the deep understanding that I’ve become like the birds on the Galapagos Islands — evolved and adapted to the point that I’m unrecognizable from my original self. None of that can be put on the calendar like the last day of class.

But these are all positives. Even the tough moments. All of it, and I’m so stupidly lucky to be here — or maybe it wasn’t just luck. Maybe I kicked and clawed and worked like a dog until I was back on dry land. Maybe this time in my life is the reward for sticking with it. Or maybe it’s the calm before another storm hits. Who knows. Either way, I embrace it.

It’ll be three years in September since my father passed. It’s funny, though — the summer before he died hits me harder than the fact that he’s gone (perhaps it’s because, in a way, I had already said my good-byes, long before the spiral down, but that’s for another time).  So much has changed, including how I look back on that time. But, still, some things can blindside me. I heard Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” while driving home last week and — like that — gone was the fisheye lens, the circular world, replaced with the nostalgic and familiar haze of anxiety and dread, like my emotions were the summer’s blazing heat. Just like that, it might as well have been 2015 again, and I had a moment of de-evolution.

God knows how I tried / Seeing the bright side / I’m not blind anymore

Perhaps the hardest part during that time was how quickly it all evolved. Back then, evolution felt more like mass extinction. Evolution felt more like climate change to the point of catastrophe, to the point of severe storms and the water baking underneath me. I didn’t understand it then, but I look back and understand it now. And the quote from Stephen King always loops back in my head: Birth always looks like death from the inside.

Everything is evolving. Everything is being reborn.

Sunday night. I’m back home late after an evening with a close friend. My husband is awake and on the couch, playing video games. I immediately crawl onto the crouch, grab the blanket I keep in one corner, and use it as a pillow as I lay my head next to him. Was there ever really a time I took this for granted? Was there ever a time I didn’t cherish these little moments? That time feels foreign to me, like it was someone else’s life, and I’m grateful for that feeling.

As I’m grateful for every step in the evolution, grateful that somehow we’ve been able to evolve together — an individuals, as a couple. Maybe now we’re the Darwin bird whose beaks have reshaped and adapted, who have found their way to the top of the food chain through the years.

Everything is evolving, and I will gladly advance as a species.

I am brave / I am bruised / I am who I’m meant to be / This is me

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