It turns out my new shoes make my feet stink.
I didn’t know until there I was, barefoot
in front of a group of students.
Not that many people go barefoot
in a professional setting but I do. Yoga teachers do.
It’s bad enough that my feet show my age,
As much as any part of me, probably,
From years of going barefoot, you know, because Yoga teacher.
And I’m feeling my age these days, let me tell you what.
Feeling used up and wrung out like a tattered kitchen towel
overdue for the rag bag.
But usually it’s when teaching that I feel redeemed.
Teaching yoga is not my very favorite thing to do -
It’s hard, even grueling. The pay is shit,
And it seems to be getting worse as I get
older, maybe because of the
backwards way that yoga has become
a youth-obsessed culture driven by
and fueled by the
insecurity and self hate of
Millions, so that a yoga teacher’s life as it evolves is one
where you better be
beautiful enough, or savvy enough
to get the fame gigs
Because if not your day-to-day grind will
Wear you down
And as you become less and less photogenic,
Less and less the object of younger women’s fixations
with comparison and self abuse, you will also become
Easier and easier to cast aside.
Then you’ll be shit out of luck, with no other skills,
your body ravaged by overwork and poverty.
Then peri-menopause hits and suddenly you
stop sleeping and
start to pee yourself, and now you’re
treading water but badly, gasping for breath in
a sea of low level panic and urine.
You haven’t had sex in months and you
hardly recognize your practice, that thing which
gave you so much joy you dedicated your
fucking life to it, not because you wanted to
share it with others so much as because you wanted to
Marry it yourself, wanted to
Bind yourself irrevocably to your practice.
so you couldn’t ever be too busy
Or too tired, so that you’d have to
rally your spirits, over and over
To practice another day.
And you did, and you do,
And instead of keeping your body young and strong,
After decades of soul crushing money stress
And the betrayal of colleagues you thought were friends,
and forging ahead alone for a survival wage -
Young and strong is a ship that has sailed.
But it has made you smarter about practice, about life.
Wiser even. You’ve been compelled to get
To dig deeply into the meat of the thing that
Self inquiry Is, the thing that
Active engagement with the question of being is.
And for that you have managed to stay afloat in this
Brutal industry of
And universal love,
If only just barely.
The thing is, it’s the teaching itself
That will usually lift my aching spirits
Because it feels useful.
Because it doesn’t matter that my life is falling apart,
When I’m able to show others how to find
Their strength, how to perceive themselves as
Holy and precious.
When I am a purveyor of self acceptance
That is enough.
But tonight, as I taught, speaking slowly because
Exhaustion, mispronouncing words not because they were
New or hard but because
A part of my brain was asleep already
At the late hour of 7:45 pm,
Tonight, as I taught, I could smell my stinky feet.
And any sense that I was pulling it off,
This charade of my capability, this pretense that
I might be worthy of success - not fame or wealth
But just getting by -
A relic in the
Land of the new,
Fell flat on its shabby ass.