There is Beauty in the Breakdown.
It was almost mid-night in Sydney when I finished a call with the representative of one of AIESEC partnering organizations – who was based in New York. The call was tough. The situation had just changed and it demanded me to make significant adjustment to the partnership program. Some hiccups happened during the process brought even more tension. Some complaints caught me off guard and I either replied in a bad way or didn’t know how to answer at all. Not to mention my exhaustion after a long day – I am and can be many things but a night owl. I was on a business trip after all.
Sydney was the final city in a three-week sales trip, after Manila and Singapore. Three weeks of intense travelling and meetings, of squinting in the big cities like a nocturnal creature being exposed under too much sunlight. The expectation I put on myself was toxic, which I didn’t realize at the time.
When my partner hung up, I had the feeling that I did screw things up, big time. Sensing the excessive stress, I coped with it by putting some imaginable anesthesia in my system. Be strong. I numbed. I took a shower, put on my pajamas and went under the big fluffy blanket. Be strong. I plugged the headphone in my ears and shuffled the music. Be strong.
And coincidently, or not, I heard Christina Perri whispered:
“I can hold my breath
I can bite my tongue
I can stay awake for days
I can do it
I can do it
I’ll get through it
But I’m only human
And I bleed when I fall down
I’m only human
And I crash and I break down”
These words went through me and broke me open. I began to cry. I cried it all out. All the pressure, the expectation, the suppressed anxiety, the dark spiral to prove, perform, please, perfect. I did not know when I fell at sleep that night. Sometimes, allowing ourselves to fall apart is the bravest thing we can do.
The next morning I woke up to the soft warm sunlight, the smell of early morning rain, a bird chirping in the distance. My eyes were sore and puffy. But I felt empty, good empty. I took out my yoga mat, which was always kept in my suitcase on every trip, opened it on the floor. I started with mountain pose, which seems to be the easiest pose but in some way the most difficult of all: to stand tall and strong with head, shoulders, pelvis and legs in perfect alignment, to root my feet and toes on the ground and from there feel and become one with the energy of the earth, manifested inside me. Without a good mountain pose, no other pose could be done. I often think of life as yoga.
When trying to do a difficult pose that requires great balance, “Warrior Three” for instance, our knees must not be locked; they need to be flexible to adapt to our weight and movements. And if “mountain pose” is still inside us, if our feet are still rooted on the ground, we will be just fine. Yoga is progressive too. It is not about perfection, it is about patience. Each day, we try a little harder, reach a little further.
At the end of my yoga session, I put the palms of my hands together and said Namaste. As I bowed, the previous night flashed back to me, but it seemed so distant, as if almost had never happened. “There is beauty in the breakdown” I thought. It is Okay to shatter, when the sun comes up again – and the sun always does – we will slowly pick up the fragments of ourselves with tenderness and love. I think this is a different kind of courage. I opened my eyes, folded back my yoga mat and walked again, with “mountain” inside me.
What about you?
I chose yoga to pick myself up and gain back the “mountain” inside me. What is your way to fall again and pick yourself up again?