It's the time of year when I start to feel change in my bones, and now that we've moved to our new home in the country and spent a whole hot summer banging fence posts into the ground, building our own furniture and digging our cars out of monsoon-season mud puddles in our not-yet-graveled-or-paved-driveway, I'm finally able to feel it.
I'm sitting at my desk against the window that faces north toward Santa Fe and a bit west toward the Sandia Mountains, the turquoise trail, and Albuquerque on the other side. From my window, I see a huge blue sky and white puffy clouds. The goats are sitting atop a makeshift table to the left, enjoying the cool breeze. In the distance, I can see the very very beginning of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, the very southernmost subranges of The Rocky Mountains. It is mid-August, and the days are already cool. I can feel the shift of the seasons in my skin and in my nervous heart. And I need a sweater to go outside after a rainstorm to watch the quiet clouds roll over the mountains. July was hot like Virginia without the moisture. August has been cool and every evening, hellacious rain and lightning, then the reveal of a big starry sky. I know my old home is hot and humid as ever as I step outside in the full sun today and enjoy it.
In a month, I'll be 33 years old. I'll be teaching freshman again at two new schools, with the deepest and truest hopes for my career. I've tried on many jobs as an artist, I've left teaching with hopes that I could be happy freelancing or waiting tables so my mornings and days could be dedicated to writing and art. I've been happy and hopeful teaching yoga and meditation in a world where this job, amongst most spiritual practices in America, has become a commodity. What I've found about myself is that I don't want to be a big self-marketer. To teach yoga or to freelance is to constantly be your own boss and to market and hustle yourself like crazy, if you want it to sustain you. I've learned that I love teaching in any form as long as someone else is doing the behind the scenes work. So many others are good at this kind of work; it drains me. I've learned that yoga and body practice matters to me most as a daily, spiritual tool. Meditation and learning clarity and mindfulness with an open heart and a limber/strong body (at any size) -- all of these are good and I'm glad they are in the world, but I don't feel safe or comfortable in studio life any more. I'm wary of many teachers that are new and spout empty phrases about healing without the experience or knowledge to back it up. I don't like seeing some bodies in packed rooms in positions that will be harmful to them over time, while watching a teacher push students harder to find perfection without even looking at the actual bodies in the room and adjusting to a wide variety of needs. I don't like the selling of expensive yoga clothes and workshops and essential oils and juicing that is basically starving yourself to be prettier and skinnier and better and "cleaner." I do love the people and teachers out there who stay true to themselves and humility, who learn about the body in a way that is both scientific and safe and also healing in a nurturing way. These people will lead the way to the grassroots movements in yoga and spirituality in America. And I just can't.
I've learned that waiting tables is something I truly love and am good at, but it keeps me in a cycle of comfort. I stay there because it's easy but it also hurts my soul. When I leave it to teach or try something new, I only miss the restaurant for its ease and comfort. When I go back, I only make art for a little while and then find myself bored and uninspired. I am afraid to be an artist and an academic. But every time I walk away from these two things, I yearn for them both like the New Mexico dirt yearns for a flood. I am a poet. I want to write the rest of my life. I want to learn other art forms without apology just for fun, just for myself, without any guarantee. I want to be an artist in the classroom, not an academic who is also an artist on the side. No compartments. All fluidity. I want to teach and trust myself and give myself time to learn to do it my way, while also injecting fun and compassion into learning environments. And I want to be open and a bit tough but also just take it easy. I want to look back in twenty years and no matter how many books I've had published, say YASS I still write, and read, and teach, because it makes my heart sing. And I want to do it so I can be a contributing partner to my family. I can't be that any other way. This is my way. I'm following it.
So, I start teaching again next week. I'm eager to be a part of two new communities and feel my way through new lessons and conversations, people and lives. One is a community college in Albuquerque, one is an art school in Santa Fe. I want to be neutral and open, but also hopeful. I want to find my way back to humanity and community by trusting the learning process and students in all their vulnerability. I want to do this because life-learning is how I found myself, and the teachers that supported and inspired me are a part of a large chain of teachers trusting the young voice. This is trusting humanity. Most of all I want to trust that I am good, I am enough, I am capable and strong enough and can do this. I can do anything if I want it.
Elizabeth Gilbert said in her Big Magic podcasts and book that all procrastination is a form of fear. I've heard this before, but this time, I truly hear it in my heart. I own my fear. My fear is a sensitive mute creature who is a big part of me. She deserves to be here as I also create my fierce warrior and make my life what I want it to be, what I've always wanted it to be--one of art and service and love and home. These are the things I know how to do. This is where I will begin and I will never turn back.
I also wrote a book. I sent it out to about 20 presses and have revised it to send to about 10 more before the year is up. Since I started sending it out, I've been a woman obsessed with publishing. And so, I will step back from that a bit. I'll send out the book and the poems alone a few more times, but then I need to get back to the writing and art that is for me and only me. I need to find the magic again without any care about what comes of it. I will find this balance. I believe we all need it. I want my work to have a voice in the world, but if it is going to be a part of the world, I have to work. Create. The magic of daily creation and work is calling to me again. The season is changing and the moon is shifting her place in the sky. I will walk toward her light, my mute creature and my warrior, hand in hand.