In this season, the birds awaken so early, beginning their morning song a good hour before our household stretches its sleepy limbs. I’ve been listening to their song and heard them clearly this morning—the door to our bedroom kept ajar in the night. Lingering in the space between sleep and wakefulness, I experienced their chirping coming to life and then my bigger boy Jonah called out to me from his room down the hallway. I jumped up quickly and went to him trying to ensure that he didn’t wake our littler boy Adrian with whom he shares a room. It is a big job protecting these two birds from each other, soothing over ruffled feathers and quieting the squawking when one has seized a valuable find from the other. “It’s so cold in here!” Jonah exclaimed as he stumbled into our room still half-asleep. I suggested he crawl under the covers quickly and from the swagger in his walk I knew he would be back to sleep in no time. It seemed much later than it was and I was surprised when I looked at the clock and saw that we had more than an hour before we needed to rise for the boys’ first day of camp. I had just drifted back to sleep when I heard Adrian call out. I glanced over at Jonah and saw that he was soundly sleeping again. Even as he grows quickly into his more mature six year old self, his face still appears like an angel when he sleeps—his lips full and pink, his skin so smooth with cheeks still slightly rounded. He seems younger than he is under the big fluffy white comforter. I pull back the covers quickly and head back down the hall to Adrian—this time trying to protect Jonah’s sleep. Adrian asks for me to lay with him and I crawl into his tiny twin bed. It is toasty warm there and a luxury to curl up next to his still, little body. He is coming into his four year old being with the speed of a bullet train and the stealth of a ninja. And so this moment of calm is that much more treasured.
A few summers ago, our family ventured out on a three-hour whale watching excursion launched from a dock in Portland, ME. The “before” picture is a favorite of mine with a special aunt and uncle journeying along with us, the sun shining down and smiles across the board. The boys look so small—Jonah with a wide brimmed sun hat and Adrian decked out in a plaid shirt, tucked into my arms. Shortly after leaving the Casco Bay we found ourselves out in the deeper sea on a vessel spouting heavy fumes and with the gait of a slow-motion, bucking bronco. It wasn’t long before I found myself in the boat’s tiny bathroom with Jonah where he was loosing his lunch and my head was spinning. Adrian was draped over my husband’s slumped shoulder escaping his nausea and this tumultuous situation through a deep and abiding sleep. Our relatives were stoic but now donning gray complexions. The whales were elusive and the minutes were counted until we would return to shore. We all envied Adrian in his slumber and the sip of Ginger Ale from a kind stranger was a life saver. The photograph at the end of the journey would have been a very different one than the one that was taken at the start! I have found myself recently in this same place of enduring some of the things that life has thrown my way, of counting the moments, of holding on until the waves have settled and we may come safely back to shore. I am heartened by our ability to share this story of our excursion with such laughter now and of our dream of still owning a boat one day.
I attended my first yoga class in New York City in the 1990’s. I remember looking up from a congested Manhattan avenue and noticing the fluid, muslin curtains draping the sprawling windows of the second floor. I remember the start of my practice, of comparing myself of being somewhat outward-focused. Last summer, I was able to begin a more consistent, deeper practice at a studio that opened near my home here in Maine. I find myself now in class often with my eyes closed heavily, my attention drawn deeply inward. I find myself lingering in the spaces within me, strengthening my ability to be with the varying sensations that arise as we travel the asanas sometimes holding for longer and longer periods of time. I notice the way that anchoring in my breath and feeling my way around the many facets of my being, I am able to witness the rise and fall of these sensations. There in the wake, I find myself in peace and I find myself growing stronger.
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