About a week ago I wrote my first blog about BALANCE. How I hope the journey to another Ironman triathlon will allow me to find more balance in life and continue to gain valuable insight. So it was with enthusiasm I looked forward to my week. To throw myself into my family with visions of healthy home cooked meals shared while telling stories of our busy days. Mornings filled with pre dawn runs, before zipping to work for another challenging day in the ICU. A weekend started off with a crisp autumn morning bike ride, a family working together to clean a garage, a Badger and Bears football game to watch and get excited about. SO much opportunity to actively pursue QUALITY time with my family and friends.
So in the movies, a song would play in the background and slowly build to a crescendo as these events occur one after another, as everyone smiles and the energy is flowing. The dinner meal is eaten, the run is done with the sun rising in the background. A life saved in the ICU followed by some dramatic cinematography of trees whizzing by as I shift gears and fly on my bicycle. The garage now immaculate as we work together to sweep the last bits of dust off the garage floor, culminating in a Badger and Bears wins with my son and I high-fiving each other over another touchdown. That is the movies. Reality is quite different.
No meal was cooked. Franky I don’t think I made it to the grocery store. I passed out most evenings before 9pm. Didn’t make it to water polo at night and was too tired to drag myself out of bed to run in the am. I barely made it to work on time and was running behind all day trying to keep my head above water. I don’t think any life was dramatically saved, but there was plenty of drama at my office between partners as we struggle with an uncertain future in healthcare. My knee was in so much pain after 15 minutes on the bike, I was forced to turn back by my riding partner. The garage is the same as it ever was. My teen-age son and I are barely talking after a rough weekend and I think I saw my daughter for about an hour sandwiched between birthday party sleep overs and midnight bat-mitzvahs. The Badgers and Bears were the only things that followed the script!
So, as this week started, I hoped to find some saving grace. Something to help me find my center. To be an anchor to the DISEQUILIBRIUM I am currently feeling. And there it was…..YOGA! For years I have contemplated this. First I am the LEAST flexible person I know. Seriously, I can barely touch my knees much less my toes. My hamstrings I think stopped growing when I was 12, but my legs continued until college leaving me with some serious flexibility issues. It has been one of my biggest limiters to training over the last several years and has led to many of my injuries. But even more hopeful, was this mind/body/balance thing I’ve heard of with yoga. The breathing, focusing, inner reflection part that seems just perfect for what I’m trying to achieve. So it is with some trepidation along with some hopeful enthusiasm, I signed up for my first session with Dahn Yoga uptown. I was scheduled for an orientation 20-30 minutes early, to help me “assimilate” into the class. So after a crazy day at work, with major tension working its way into my upper back and my right hamstring and hip flexor already in a knot, I race home, change clothes, and jump back into the car and head to the studio. Let’s just say the drive over was the highlight of the experience. I’m not sure my writing can do justice to the next hour and half. But I will try.
After walking in at 6:30 (for a 7pm class), I briefly meet the Yoga Master (nice man, mid 30’s, obligatory goatee and loose fitting clothes). I receive my orientation pamphlet to read as he disappears into a room. Five minutes later I’m done with orientation and have 25 minutes I guess to kill. I’m now in a “lobby” with numerous books (energy particles, Chakras, mind/body connection). Then my eyes sieze on a small “globe” of the earth floating above a mirrored base. Literally floating. I realize it must be a magnet (smart guy that I am). I watch it spin and think what a perfect metaphor in front of me for BALANCE as this globe slowly rotates, perfectly centered defying gravity floating above the base. After a few minutes I can’t help myself. I must touch it. Feel it. Appreciate its balance! So as I touch this perfectly BALANCED globe; THUNK! The magnet has now pulled the globe onto the base, making a noise that echoes through the studio. I’ve have literally just unbalanced the Earth. I look around. No one is there. Quickly I try and separate the Earth globe from the base. I try to float it above just like I found it.. THUNK!! Again that magnetic thing. Now I look around for the hidden camera that must be somewhere aimed on me. I start to sweat. It’s 6:50. The “master” is bound to check on me (or the loud noise coming from the lobby) and people will soon be arriving for class. A few more tries and a few more THUNKs and I realize this is hopeless. I can’t balance my own life at the moment, no way I can balance the Earth. I leave it pinned at an awkward but hopefully not too noticeable angle and quickly sit back down and await further instruction.
But further instruction never comes. As 7 pm rolls around, about 15 people stroll in, take off their shoes and head to the studio room in the back. The master still seems to be indisposed to either orient me or check out strange noises from the lobby, so I finally head to the studio myself. What follows over the next hour could not have been further from what I have pictured as a yoga class in my head. Now, I’m sure not all yoga involves warrior poses, downward dog stretches, and chanting with the legs crossed. However, hitting myself in the stomach for a 10 minute warm up, followed by jumping jacks and running in place for another 10 is not what I had envisioned. But I was still hopeful we were going to work on some awesome pose that will loosen up my hamstrings or work on my knotted back. But I’m teased by another 10 minute block of balancing on one foot with my eyes open and closed. Then, there are about 10 minutes of some mild stretching where I start to think, this is it…Warrior pose here I come! But then some Enya like new age music starts up and we are told to close our eyes and “feel” the music and “listen” to our own “rhythm” and move to the “voice” inside our bodies. Over and over the master tells us to just listen to ourselves. I can’t help but open my eyes and peek. There is probably some bad yogi karma that I have just cursed myself with but I don’t care. 15 people are all moving to their own unique “beat” as there really is not much of one in new age music. All the time MY voice is telling me to “move” next door to Subway and Starbucks for a 6 inch veggie sub and a Venti Americano. Class wraps up with 5 minutes of breathing while lying flat on my back, and I’m still left with tight hamstrings, a sore back, an unbalanced Earth in the lobby and a craving for a Subway sub!
So, what have I learned over the last several days? What insight have I gained. First, life at the moment is not quite balanced. I would call it a state of DISEQUILIBRIUM. The balance though I am looking for is not going to come by forcing it all into a weekend, or captured by taking a yoga class. It’s going to be through a process. Two weeks of minimal conversation with my son is not made up over a three hour Bear’s game. And one family dinner does not counteract evenings glued to our smart phones. But a good weekend can be a building block for more meaningful conversations and interactions during the week. Better BALANCE is going to come through persistence and consistency not by “crash forced family weekends” and definitely not by listening to Enya and finding my inner rhythm. So, DISEQUILIBRIUM 1, BALANCE 0 is this weeks score, but I’m playing the long game on this one.