Have I mentioned my most peaceful time of day? It’s the eight minutes I spend walking from the campus parking lot to class. Parking the car is new for me. We’ve only ever had one car. Once the kids started school, husband would drop off the kids then drop me off, right in front of the office. I rarely took the car to campus. Now, I have to. Because I can’t get to the office until daughter gets dropped off, I can’t even snag a decent close-in spot, so I park in a far-off lot. When that’s full, I’ve found even farther-off lots that I never knew existed.
Surprisingly, this doesn’t bother me. It is what it is. I’ve budgeted the walk time into the morning. No worries. I collect my bags, stick some earphones into my phone, and listen to Pandora (often the Vashti Bunyan station, which is some sort of mixture of faerie and folk and nostalgia for a magickal world). As I walk, I don’t think about what I’ve already done that day. (And, likely, I’ve already been up, working and caretaking, for up to 4 hours before I even start my formal workday.) I don’t think about where I’m going and what I have to do. I just walk, and absorb the atmospheric music.
I have found this walk to be quietly liberating. It frees me from my situation. It could be five years ago, it could be five years from now. It’s like I’ve snapped out of my real life. I’m just walking. Some days I might be wearing a coat I’ve had for years, and that throws me off. I don’t know who I am anymore, and I kind of like it during that walk. Any possibility ahead of me. For some brief moments I imagine that I’ll go home to my husband. This is the space in between, the interstitial space. It is a small, 8-minute (unless I had to park in the farther off lot, then it’s more) space of freedom, and possibility, and relief.
When the meditation session asks us to think of joy, or the heart’s deepest desire, I’ve got nothin’. The closest I’ve been able to approximate is a feeling of ease. I picture myself walking down the street beneath the yoga studio, my legs moving in a healthy flow, the strong, slimmer legs of my youth. I greet people on the street with utter ease. This feeling that I conjure is a feeling of imagined equanimity, and it’s the closest I can get to the deeper feelings. I remember my body feeling this way. I recall it in meditation. I dutifully imagine that that is what I feel, right at that moment. It has become the “safe space” that I can retreat to when meditation gets tough.
In today’s session, I dwelt on a horrible night my husband had in December 2011. It was the beginning of the end. That night, by the way, is yellow. (Don’t ask. I don’t fully grasp it, I just know this. The day I found him, incidentally, is grey.) I briefly pursued the thinking-through of this horrible night, and then I moved away, as we are taught to do in meditation.
But today, I did something different. Instead of pulling away from my husband, I grabbed him, and I brought him with my thoughts.
There, in my thoughts, was a memory of us walking in our old neighborhood in Austin. It was such a happy time in our lives. Newly married, pre-kids, but with an adopted stray dog we adored, we were broke, and we couldn’t afford much, but we could walk dear, loyal Otis through the lovely neighborhood we lived in. We’d run into people we knew, dogs we knew, we’d ogle the lovely, well-appointed Craftsman bungalows. We were so happy, and we were healthy, and now I realize what a handsome couple we were. In my meditation, I felt what it was like to walk together.
I didn’t even allow myself to consider the awful possibility that I could have taken my husband’s hand after that horrible yellow night and made him feel happiness again. I didn’t, because that is a possibility that is closed off, and this is now. I can’t change the past. But what I can do is not abandon his memory. He is there, in this space of consciousness, in the state of awareness that we are called to in these yoga nidra sessions. Somewhere, his happiness exists. It still does.
I felt all this, and then I let that go, too, as we are instructed to do. But not before I shed a tear. It trickled down into my ear.