Simple Beauty

5 years ago




Yoga teaches us to embrace the simple and appreciate the small things. I didn't grow up that way. As a teenager in the decadent 80s I learned to want bigger, better, glitzy and showy. I grew up in Chicago and these things defined who you were. 

I knew very few people who valued the simple, the plain, the earthy or the honest, easy way of living that I now crave. And the two parts of me, the 80s teen desires and the more mature grounded simplicity war sometimes. Except for one place.

In nature and particularly at any large body of water I am still. I am fulfilled. And for me, that's a lot.

I would love to tell you that being a yogi means everything is simple and straightforward and that I easily let go of materialistic needs. But I'm still in this world. And I'm happy to be. I wouldn't want it any other way. Despite my spiritual yearnings, I'm still me. My car is starting to really look like a junker and every time I see something shiny and of this decade I send a little prayer out to the Universe. I'm still a mom, I'm still a girlfriend, I still love new clothes, I still like a lot of material things and I think this life is about balance and about allowing all the different parts of me to come out and sing. 

So a lot of my life is playing all these different rolls, mom, girlfriend, yogi, yoga teacher, business owner, ex-wife and dealing with all the different expectations that these rolls create-in my head and theirs. And there are times when it all comes together. Times when I feel that there's just Melissa. There are just three times that I regularly experience. When I'm practicing. When I'm teaching. When I'm on/in/near the water.

I grew up in Chicago. I grew up going to Lake Michigan on both sides and it is always at Lake Michigan that I have felt the most peace, the most comfort and the most joy. Thanks to meditation, visualization and an awareness of who I am, I can evoke those feelings about Lake Michigan in my life no matter that I live in a land-locked state with man-made lakes. Do I do it? Am I a good practitioner of that meditative state, visualization and awareness that I need the peace and energy of Lake Michigan? Of course not. I have the skills, but like so many of us I'm not so good at remembering to use them. 

So yesterday when my sweetie and I went to the ocean at Nantaskett and just sat and watched the waves and the gulls, it all washed over me. My sweetie is a water baby too, growing up on the lakes in the Ozarks. We sat sometimes chatting, sometimes silently, just being on the beach, feeling the sand between our toes and beneath our fingers. We marveled at the strength, the power, and the simplicity of the ocean. 

And we talked about what it felt like to be a small, fallible human sitting next to this ancient organism. My sweetie is a scientist, a hydrologist really. Water is important in both our lives. It's healing, nourishing, calming, energizing. But this feeling yesterday was also of being something new on this earth next to this age-old being. It felt safe and put life in perspective. 

The simplicity of the ocean is it's beauty. The ocean doesn't care what I think about it, what you think about it, what it's reputation of is. The ocean is just being the ocean is just being the ocean, day after day, over and over since the beginning of time. It rolls in, it rolls out. It's presence is never-changing and yet always mercurial. It's an astounding thing.

So we intellectualized and we sifted fine silty sand between our fingers and I gathered shells for my kids and amidst all the thoughts and all the activity there emerged simplicity. A simple beautiful day at the beach.

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