I am lounging at a cafe in Plano, Texas, enjoying my first moments to myself since I arrived here a few days ago. Technically, I am here to pounce on some of my homework that has been piling up (I am enrolled in a course at www.celebrantinstitute.org). But part of my catch-up routine includes, of course, a visit to my community on Facebook.
My dear friend Carol Ann has been on my mind, so I pop over to her page to peek in on her life. There are photos posted recently of a mountain-biking trip she took. Miles of rolling rock, and beautiful vistas, plateaus and mesas, desert sand and gnarled pinons, redrock and blue sky. YUM! And even a photo of her friend on top of a rock ledge about to go over the steep face. At the sight of this photo my gut response is, "I WANT THAT!"
Now let me tell you a little-known fact about me: I have never enjoyed mountain biking, ever. In fact, my history shows a record of getting out of mountain biking opportunities more than once or twice. So I am just as surprised by this sudden excitement as anyone!
Now I am not going to dismiss the notion that a new love of mountain biking could be potentially taking root, a sort of setting-myself-free from a longtime fear (I have believed for a long time that I hate falling down - unless I am skydiving!). But, as I sit with this jolt of feeling, I ask myself, What is it I really want? This is what rises inside me: I want movement, soaring freedom, feet that leave land, wind that caresses bare skin, sun warming body, the lightness of flowing quickly over land, physically-embodied engagement with my environment. In short, I want to PLAY! I want the freedom of movement. And I want it more than anything, like Edward wants Bella's blood (ok, well only at the beginning of the Twilight series, but you get what I mean!).
And I hear this ring in my head, I want this. I want this. I want this. I open an album of me on my summer 2005 ascent and summit of Mt. Rainier. The drool begins to build immediately. Such freedoms have graced my experience. Climbing in Joshua Tree, sea kayaking in Baja, canyoneering and whitewater rafting in Utah, daily trailrunning and snowshoe running. But if I am honest with myself, a major reason for being in the midst of this "research" (of gaining 40 pounds and letting go of my physical fitness on purpose), and living inside this heavier body by choice, is that I could not truly feel this freedom even when I wore it as close as the lightness of my own skin back then.
So what is this lust? Because beyond the lust, buried just below its surface, is a desire that burns for progress and growth. What I find just beyond my thoughts of, "It was so easy back then," and "What an idiot - I didn't even know what I had!" Just beyond these thoughts is the reality that freedom of movement is not what I crave. What I long for is the movement of freedom. I am all that stands in the way of my own freedom, right here, right now. No future heaven. No glorious past. Only this moment exactly as it is.
The thoughts I choose to accept as "mine," my choice to believe and identify with ego's constant atrophy-chatter of "not good enough" or limitation - these are my only prison. And I can move out of that darkness into the lightness of this very moment. I take a deeeeep breath. And another, for good measure (can there ever be too many long, luxurious deep breaths - why don't we take more of them, then?).
I remember that right here, right now I can move, and am moving, in the direction of freedom - which is not a destination but a moment-by-moment way of being. As I write this blog, my precious friend, Monica has sent me a picture of her amazing sister Gretchen riding through a forest wrapped in autumn (taken by Nathaniel Wilder - http://ngwphotography.blogspot.com). I am struck by the freedom of ease, focus and clear intent expressed - the perfect simplicity of being in that moment and nowhere else.
I close my eyes and I don't need to be in that forest. I don't need to imagine being in some exotic location to be happy. I don't need to picture having more money or a boyfriend, or less flesh or responsibility, I don't need any of these in order to feel peace. Sitting right here, with an empty latte mug and Bing Crosby crooning"White Christmas" from the speakers above me, I can feel the effortlessness of dancing through this moment with the same kind of freedom Gretchen is embodying on the bike. And it strikes me, This is the freedom of being in my own skin.
What do you need to shed in order to be here in this moment, exactly where, and exactly AS you are? Is it those two deep breaths (or maybe twenty)? Is it forgiving yourself for going through your day unconsciously today, or your week, month, year, or entire life? Do you need to make peace with some part of your experience that you have been ruthlessly criticizing lately - like the size of your thighs, or the shape of your nose, or your partner, or the dollar-amount in your bank account, or how you feel like you've been "failing" as a parent)?
Take those breaths, and remember, there is no other place you can be right now but right here. There is no other skin you can be in but your own. There is no other life for you to inhabit (I don't care how tempting "Wife Swap" may appear on TV, or any of those other "reality" shows!). Right here, right now, with this breath, and this breath, we can choose to let go of the thoughts standing between us and ever-present freedom. They are ONLY thoughts, and we don't have to keep as our own the ones which no longer serve us.
This is the movement of freedom - And I know for certain, I want THAT!