“Swing high, swing low, up and down we go!”
I sang this to my nephew late on Saturday afternoon, as I pushed him in his swing. The very swing my father, now his grandfather, hung in the very same place where three swings—for my two sisters and me—once hung, beneath overgrown and ever-blossoming wisteria branches, beneath the deep shade of two 75-year-old walnut trees my parents cut down last summer.
My nephew squealed, “Higher, higher!” I sang louder, louder.
Today, I swung high and swung low. Up, down I went. Squeals and tears and all.
In the course of a 90-minute yoga class, you can crest the apex and then crash into the abyss. It’s the way it goes. We yogis embrace it. We thrive on it, actually. So much so that we keep returning to the hot room to see just how high we can climb and just how low we must fall before we discover our own capability to recover, to dig our toes and fingers into the grit and pain, and pull ourselves free. It’s just the way of it. I don’t know what else to tell you.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t embrace the lows. While necessary, educational even, low points are rarely my shining moments. (Can anyone say otherwise?) And, while I enjoy the highs, I’m always well aware that I’m peaking and, concurrently, then immediately worrying about the sharp descent.
These past two weeks have slapped me black and blue and left me roadside. The last spell of days have cuddled against me like an attentive, doting lover and then left me like a breeze, silent, careless, gone. I’ve felt wonderfully contented and happy and then miserably confused and overwhelmed. I’ve enjoyed great bouts of soul-satisfying love and attention and then painful moments of loneliness, of loss, of realizing I still want what I don’t—or, more frightening, can’t—have right now, this instant.
Tonight, after a dinner with my sister and brother in law and ex-boyfriend/man-who-still-intrigues-me, after limping through the front door, I fell onto my dear roommate’s bed, a tangle of limbs and sadness, and began talking, venting, letting go. A tear or two fell out of my eyes without me even realizing it—I turned my head and suddenly discovered a damp pillow beneath my cheek. I told her how I didn’t understand how the very things I once felt so sure and confident of could crumble and fall to the sea so quickly, so thoughtlessly. I mumbled about hurt, about disappointment, about stress. I fretted about all that’s slipped beyond my control, my reach, my organization.
Through a sob, I confessed that my heart….my heart was slipping. I could feel it.
She stood at the bottom of her bed, and listened, and looked me straight in the eye, and then said, plainly, adamantly, “Don’t go there. Don’t do it. You were doing so well. You just have to focus on the progress you’ve made, on the person you are now. And fuck him and the douches who don’t deserve your time in the first place.”
Swing high, swing low—or, just swing. You’re bound to hit something, right?
My roommate, a wonderful friend of mine from college, and I laughed together and then spent the next half hour debating which belt and earring combo she should wear with a beautiful green dress she’s wearing in a wedding this weekend. Within minutes, she completely distracted me from my woes, my worries. By the time I left her bed and crawled into my own, rubbed my cat’s soft little head and pulled this computer onto my lap, I felt better, calmer, safer.
After all, even if you miss in your swings, at least you’ve tried. Yes?
Tomorrow, I will slug my way through another rough, tough day at the office. And then I will show my old, beat-up, 18-year-old car to two people who I will beg to buy it. I will try to leave bygones as bygones. And then, hopefully, if all goes well, I will take myself to the 6 p.m. yoga class and leave this all behind on my mat. Any day is rightly done when yoga is involved.
And I will forgive myself for these preoccupations, these wonderings, about him and me, about who I was, about how he saw me, about the ifs and the whens and the maybes. The highs and the lows are tolerable, if I just keep perspective.
It’s like this:
I jokingly apologized to my roommate for being such a shit show tonight, as she packed for a busy, exciting, love-filled, friend-filled weekend of fun in Florida. She giggled, squeezed my arm, and said I was no such thing. “Don’t be silly!”
As I stood before the bathroom mirror, brushing my teeth, brushing back my hair, brushing away the day on my face, I thought, “Well, even if it’s a shit show, I ducked at least a few slings.”
Ducking, swinging, aiming, missing.
I try. And then I try again. And again.
Until the day is rightly done.