By Mary Boutieller
Your life—and our common human experience—is all about beautiful interrelationships.
“It’s never just one thing!” I say this in my yoga classes a lot. Even as I announce that we are going to work on, say, the wrists, we know that it’s never just the wrists. And we know this because the wrists are connected to the arms, which are connected to the shoulders…Our bodies are interconnected miracles of blood and tissue, nerves and cells—all communicating and working together to maintain homeostasis. It really is a beautiful thing—at least most of the time.
Life is like that, too. It’s never just one thing. When we think of a river, it’s not just the water that makes it a river. It is also the banks upon which the river rests and rolls; it is the rocks, fish or destination that makes it a river. And when the river meets another body of water, does it cease to be a river? Likewise, a home is not just a bunch of wood or concrete. It is also the people who inhabit it and the kindness that fills it with love. These things and more make it a home.
William James said, “We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”
It can be that way with relationships too. Whether we are talking about love or strife, relationships are about more than two people. Usually, it is not one thing that turns a few words into an argument or turns hope into a dream realized. It is the many small actions, conversations and attentions that either draw us toward one another or keep us apart. It is our backgrounds, our baggage, our buttons, that can keep us from seeing the person or the situation as it is, right in front of us. These things can keep us from understanding the part we play in the evolution of our lives.
Sometimes we just don’t “see” the connection. Maybe we don’t yet have the understanding to know how one affects the other. We may not realize that when we tighten our jaw repeatedly for days or years, we run the risk of headaches or neck pain until, one day, it clicks. We tighten our jaw, we rub our neck, and the connection is made. In our relationships, it is the same. When we take anything for granted, whether it is a spouse or a job or a body part, we can pile up the debt of insensitivity and inattention until it takes a cosmic 2 x 4 to wake us up. Maybe we shouldn’t wait so long.
Recently, I listened to a podcast where the speaker said that if we could imagine, every once in a while, being without the thing we love…whether it is our partner, a cup of coffee, a hug… how would that feel? If we could spend just a couple of moments imagining that this could be the last time we tasted honey, held our child’s hand or watched the sunset…wouldn’t that wake us up to the gifts that are right in front of us? Wouldn’t that make us want to pay a little more attention to the things that we usually take for granted and think will always be there?
In those moments when I pause and think this might be the last time I experience “this”, it brings a tear to my eye as my heart fills with gratitude, and I am reminded all over again of the goodness in my life.
You see, it’s never just one thing. It’s never just you or me, alone and independent, grinding our way through the world. It has always been about the beautiful interrelationships that make up your life and my life and our common human experience.
Look around my friends and take it all in. Marvel that your body is connected by an unending web of connective tissue. Be in wonder about the person you are standing next to, who is connected to the community in which you live, which is connected by degrees to the entire Universe.
Carl Sagan said this, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff”.
Star stuff indeed! May you truly understand that you are an integral part of it all.
Mary Boutieller is a Registered Yoga Teacher through Yoga Alliance. She has been teaching yoga since 2005. Her work experience includes 22 years as a firefighter/paramedic and 10 years as a Licensed Massage Therapist. Mary’s knowledge and experience give her a well-rounded understanding of anatomy, alignment, health and movement in the body. She is passionate about the benefits of yoga and the ability to heal at all levels through awareness, compassion, and a willingness to explore. She can be reached at: SimplyogaOm@gmail.com.