Monday, November 24, 2008

In the Grass and in the Trees

One of my favorite childhood stories is the Easter Egg Incident. It really wasn’t an isolated incident – more of a protracted insight into human constitution. The story began in the Spring of 1969 when the local park district hosted an Easter Egg hunt. Having dissected the Easter Egg coloring book, and risen to prominence in Easter Egg coloring, my parents thought I had a particular interest in this most unusual of holiday celebrations (do the bunnies lay the eggs?)

As Dad and I drove to the tree-lined park, he explained to me how the kid collecting the most Easter Eggs was the winner. (This was important to 50% of those present) I nodded dutifully, and with wicker-basket in hand, reported to the starting line. Once the start was signaled, I immediately began looking skyward. According to my father, I spent the majority of the time looking to the trees, interspersed with glances to the clouds and sky. Periodically I’d have to move a little to get out of the way, as there were children running every which way.

The ride home was mostly silent. We ate French Toast for brunch and Dad turned on some TV sports. It was easier to pretend Easter didn’t happen in 1969.

Before we knew it, 1970 had dawned and it was nearly time for the Resurrection. Again, I proved proficient at all things Easter Egg in preschool. We began training a few weeks before the big day. The first ones were gimmes. Eggs hidden on the back porch were readily discovered. Those on the basement stairs were harder to find. Tall grass proved to be my nemesis. Despite early setbacks, however, I arrived at the Easter Egg hunt well trained and ready.

The start was signaled, and I immediately ran to the tall grass surrounding the nearest tree. (tall grass is a popular hiding place for Easter eggs) Once it became clear the quicker kids had scraped the area clean of Easter Eggs, I turned my gaze to the treetops. In a repeat of 1969, at the end of the day my wicker basket contained little more than fake grass.

On that silent ride home, I was innocently unaware that an era had ended. What continued, however, was an abiding interest in the unseen. That little boy was entirely interested in possibility and the infinite, and it seemed the sky held more promise for this than the ground. It’s a common perception, and a trap for so many of us on the yogic path.

The infinite surrounds us. The infinite is above, as certainly as the infinite is below. One of my themes as a yoga teacher has been that of grounding. Our habit is to look to the heavens for inspiration, while we often neglect the ground that supports us. Not only is this a setup for aching neck and shoulders, TMJ and wrist trouble, but also divorces us from a powerful ally in finding the union, or Yoga, many of us seek.

I am grateful for having stumbled on this practice, and its capacity to show me the Easter Eggs both in the trees and in the tall grass. I’m grateful to have shared this ride with the love and support of people who can scarcely imagine how I see the world. And I’m grateful I am likely to get another chance again tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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