A few weeks ago, a snowstorm ravaged our area. It was around 10:00 on Thursday morning. I was at home with my two boys (aka “the curlies”) for a snow day. One of their (straight haired 🙂 ) friends arrived to spend the snow day with us. As usual when the friend arrives, the three boys discussed what to play first. They uncharacteristically opt to play inside. I almost nudged them to go outside, as the impending storm could keep us indoors for the rest of the day.
I glanced out of my sliding glass doors into the backyard while talking to my mom on the phone, when I heard a deafening POP! I watched my beautiful, majestic silver maple tree fall on top of my house! Imagine my shock! A gust of wind hit the tree just right to snap the roots and tip the entire tree!
Stunned, I shrieked and felt panic settling in at the thought of the boys climbing the tree! I snapped out of it when they ran out of their bedroom to see what had happened. Seconds later, a neighbor magically appeared (thanks, Bill!) to rescue us.
And so it began.
Practicing what I preach every single day.
Living in gratitude. With a giant tree on my house.
As a Yogi, this experience has been interesting. It is easy to commit to your highest Self while times are good, sitting on the mat, feeling good, bathing in Yogic ideals. Then a tree falls into your life. Challenges ensue.
Yoga invites us to live in the present. That means paying attention to the reality of what is in front of us, purely, saucha. Seeing what is in front of us without emotional gunk piled on top, without the lens of our expectations or belief system or past experiences. As I sit on the mat with a familiar post-Yoga class glow, it is easy to embrace this idea. And then a tree falls.
Yoga also invites us to surrender, Ishvara Pranidhana. Surrender does NOT mean give up and get steamrolled by life. Surrender means meeting each moment with the conviction to respond as our highest Self, not just react emotionally. It requires grace and flexibility and saucha. Again, on the mat, it is easy to commit to this idea. And then a tree falls.
With it, a lot of stressful decisions and humans standing in the way, keeping me from going back to bliss-ness as usual.
When things aren’t going our way, what can we do to ease our suffering a little bit? Insert gratitude for something, big or small, but it must be genuine.
Santosha. Finding ease in an undesired situation reduces our suffering. Easing our suffering brings clarity, making it easier to respond moment to moment as our highest Self.
Yes, the tree fell and it is a time consuming, annoying mess. But that tree could have fallen on 3 boys, and it didn’t. That tree could have fallen a few degrees towards the house and completely destroyed the house with 3 boys in it, but it didn’t. Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for the safety of those kids. They climb that tree almost daily, and always when their sweet friend is here.
But they didn’t that morning.
They collectively decided to play inside first. Gratitude.
The heavy tree could have stayed on the roof doing more damage each day, but 5 generous neighbors with chainsaws removed it in one day, without being asked. And patched the roof the very next day. Shout out to the wonderful community in Delaware Water Gap, PA!!!! We love y’all! Gratitude.
Friends from all over the Poconos offered their homes, showers, anything we needed. Gratitude.
Yoga invites us to study and understand ourselves, Svadhyaya. When presented with a challenging situation, keep going deeper. Peel back the layers until we reach the deepest layer of exactly what bothers us. At first I was irritated that I needed to be snarky with the insurance company to get what I am by contract entitled to receive. Is there more? Go deeper. What is really annoying me? A few snarky phone calls can’t be it. Honoring a contract can’t be it. I fear a weakness may be exposed – what if I cannot use kindness and logic doesn’t yield my desired result? I usually can, but what if it doesn’t work this time? What would my Teacher say?
Maybe I need to be snarky because I haven’t developed my skills enough yet. Ahhhhh. That’s what is really bothering me. Not my belief that a contract should be honored without a struggle.
Today, 19 days later: power restored, furnace repaired, pipes replaced, logs sent to neighbors as firewood, 10th birthday partially celebrated. Still have to address other electrical damage, millions of small branches, huge maple tree trunk, ceiling and roof, and a 10th birthday paint ball party to plan.
With much irritation, comes much more gratitude.
Om Shanti, friends.
PS – Ishvara Pranidhyaya is the topic of this week’s Guided Meditations.