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August 22, 2011

There’s a bittersweet quote that goes:

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?”   – Rumi

I’ve been thinking of it often – trying in all the chaos of life to find how this all can connect to the highest.  Yesterday was my father’s birthday- he wasn’t here to celebrate it.  My sister, stepmom and our husbands sat at at Cheesecake factory sort of dumbfounded eating cake and doing our best to celebrate his life.  On top of it all his brother, my uncle, is laying in bed in hospice waiting to die.  There’s nothing spectacular and pretty going on.  There’s a lot of crying and brokenness in our family – a lot of irritating sorts of rubs in our lives.

As I thought about the quote, I remembered my rock tumbler that I had as a kid.  Saying that I was a nerd was putting it lightly.  I wore thick glasses, was chubby and definitely had a penchant for the not so normal kid-like things.  I collected stamps and rocks and took pictures of flowers and wrote songs about them.  One year I had my heart set on getting a rock tumbler for Christmas.  The tumbler as I remember it (and I am pretty sure the image to the left is the exact same model that I had – how many models could there really be?) was sort of like a mini cement machine that would turn jagged rocks over and over again to, in theory, create polished gems.

I don’t think we got many polished gems out of this thing.  After the first day, the sound of it became tremendously annoying so much so that it was relocated to our small crawl space basement to never return to the light of day again.  I bet if you look at my mom’s house it’s still there somewhere lost in the darkness – the idea, though, has stuck with me.

One of the first things I learned about tantra and yoga is that it’s about the friction – keep your mind out of the gutter, please – the idea that as we run up against things that irritate us, it’s an opportunity to go deeper into our experience of ourselves and the universe around us.  It’s easier said then done – especially when you are knee-deep in some serious karmic shit.  I definitely feel as though I am inside a rock tumbler these days – I am sure most people can relate to a varying degree depending on their current life experiences.  When we hit the walls, do we make it out to be the end of the world or just a detour?

As a yogi, I have hit many walls in my practice.  A few years back, I hit the wall of being really sick and having to humble myself to barely finishing a class; at the high points of my practice, I could totally rock and advanced class.  The thing is, you never know what each day is going to bring in your body or your life.  Putting the work in involves a lot of allowing your ragged edges to be irritated and slowly smoothed but sticking in it for the ride.  Each irritation leaves an impression that can be interpreted as good or bad depending on how you receive it.

Hopefully as we become more polished we keep the integrity of our strength and soften on the outside to be more comfortable with who we are  – just where we are.  I’m in for the tumble.


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