Something ends. Something begins.
My Yoga teacher was about to leave Vietnam and return to India to further his Yoga study. My love and respect for him were so immense that it was hard for me to say goodbye. In our last class, I came early and sat quietly waiting for him in the studio. “Hello!” My teacher walked in. I bowed and said hello. He sat on his mat nonchalantly. After a moment of silence, I spoke. “So… this is our last class.” He replied, with imperturbable composure, “Yes.” And closed his eyes. Some more minutes of silence passed. He opened his eyes, looked at me, and said softly: “This ends. And something new begins.”
I knew he was teaching me a very, very important lesson. Something ends. Something begins. That is life. My yoga teacher did not cling onto past experiences. Neither did he think too much about future experiences. He was standing knee deep in the river of life, flowing from one moment to the next. If we want life to flow through us unobstructed. We must let it.
We began our class. As always, the class was taken with a sense of religious awe. My teacher took time for Savasana (Dead Body pose), Pranayama (breathing exercises), and Meditation. When the class ended, we did Om chanting, put our hands together in prayer, and bowed. “Namaste,” we said. Namaste means I bow to the spirit that is within you and that is also within me.” I said “Goodbye, teacher.” And he said goodbye back. And we walked away from each other, as naturally as how flowers bloom.
As I observe others, I realize that letting go isn’t something we human understand so much. We don’t know how to let go. One experience flows through; and we weep either because it’s over or because it happened. We cling onto it because in this experience we are certain of what it is and what we are. Doesn’t matter if the experience makes us happy or miserable. We cling.
I know of a wonderful friend of mine who cannot let go of a relationship that makes her suffer. She understands that it’s intoxicating. She understands that she deserves better. But deep down, she is afraid of letting something new to begins. Because that something is uncertain. She doesn’t know what we will find with the new experience. But with this experience, she knows what she is: unhappy. But at least she knows.
Sen no Rikyu, the founder of the Japanese tea ceremony, was told to carry out tea ceremony in a way that it seemed each time he died, and came back to life. This is how to live each of life’s experiences, from one moment to the next. Mindfully. Intensely. Wholeheartedly. Be happy when you are happy. Be sad when you are sad. There is no need to force a smile when sorrow is all you feel. The only thing to do is to breathe. If sorrow is felt. Then there is happiness in sorrow. And one day, you eventually come out of it and realize how beautifully lilies have blossomed. You always do.
I wonder what is more important than the learning we gain through the life experiences we have, in the short years given to our DNA in the Milky Way.
Rapha and I had met again after 6 months being apart. We spent 2 weeks together so blissfully, it was difficult not to wish it never ended. By the end of our holiday, sometimes I got childish, snuggled in his arms, and whispered: “Rapha, don’t go!” Then he would laugh and jokingly offer to put me in his luggage. But this time, I knew how to say goodbye. I smiled to him one afternoon, and said “This ends. And another one begins.” I thought of my Yoga master. Yesterday Rapha left Vietnam for Singapore, where his new role is based. Yesterday, another adventure began for him, for me, for us.
This time, there is nothing about us that I need to understand. There is nothing about us that I need to believe in. This time I just know. That no matter how life flows through us. We are facing it with sweetness on our lips, love in our hearts, and grace in our souls.