• Jo Page

Back to the Mat for Good

I am writing this column days before I am due to file it with my editor. That's unusual.


And also--who knows what fresh hell may come between now and then, causing me to mothball these musings in order to decode, depict or deplore our next set of dreadful circumstances?


But for now, anyway--this: I just got off the yoga mat. On which I had practiced yoga.

Which I hadn't done for a while. Even when I was doing something strenuous on my yoga mat. Which I mostly wasn't.

Maybe I speak for at least for some of us--maybe many of us--when I say that I have been in a defensive crouch since the ides of March.


These next items may ring true for you, as well: I have had to re-make how I do my job.


Part of my job is to care for people. Another part of it is to care for the people who care for people. Which means that if I were waitstaff shouldering one of those laden trays they never seem to waver under, mine would be loaded up with heavy crystal, heavy entrees, heavy silver--the point being, the tray is heavy. You can imagine what heaviness is on your big tray, too.


But I can't even think about wavering. Just carry the damn tray, already.


In the same way that I can't even think about praying. Not that I pray well, anyway. What has in my past passed for prayer is the odd nod of gratitude and the far more frequent spasms of need. These days I'm too distracted to be suitably grateful. And too grateful about the health of loved ones to voice my needs, even if I need to.


Because I shouldn't. Because life, right now, is super-hard.


So all that Catholic-school-learned behavior--and I didn't even go to Catholic school--kicks in. I am sure this is true for the majority of us who also didn't go to Catholic school. It's possible you can relate:


I work my tuchus off--Yiddish and further proof I didn't go to Catholic school--to get my work done and my work done well. And if my work load has increased, so what? It's worse for others who have to work harder. So shut your emotional pie hole, Page.


I work my tuchus off to be supportive of family, friends, colleagues because everybody has a psychic itch that needs scratching or persistent emotional cough that needs existential soothing. But no pity party for me. We're all hands on deck here.


I work my tuchus off on self-care (whatever that means) because we all know we are supposed to. The New York Times article on how to exercise at home while working is magnet-ed to my fridge. My calves are sore from relevés I haven't done in decades. My deltoids scream from reps with San Marzano tomatoes cans. My Daily Burn app is duly singed. And I have canned and canned from the garden I've never had before. I may hand out jarred zucchini relish at Hallowe'en. If there are even trick-or-treaters. Or maybe you would like one?


But tonight--tonight, I got on my yoga mat.


I got on my yoga mat twenty years ago and there found a locus of--well, it's a strange word--"home-ness." All the hopes for and castigations about not having the perfection, or close to, I'd always strived for fell away like beaded drops of toxic mercury rolling off the edge.


For months now--when I've even been on my mat--I brought to it unparalleled striving: must stay strong, mustn't get fat, must atone for carbs. For wine. For not eating a plant-based diet.


Tonight I got on my yoga mat.


And this body felt--in length and stretch and crack and breath--what it is to be home. Or perhaps in these times, both home. And away.

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