Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Paying tribute to old friends

It's been a sad day. News arrived early this morning that a former classmate had passed away. It had been decades since I'd seen him, but I remember him as a kind and generous man of great faith and enthusiasm for life, so I spent a good part of the day in tears thinking about him and his family. Then, late this afternoon, I received word that an old family friend has just been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and won't likely be with us much longer either. Needless to say, it was with a heavy heart that I trudged towards the ferry tonight planning to spend the evening going for short run, doing chores and wallowing in my sadness. But that's not how the evening unfolded.

By chance, I ran into a colleague on the ferry who mentioned that she was going to attend a yoga class taught by a favourite teacher (Isha) and offered to take me along. It had been three years since I'd attended one of Isha's classes but I knew her class was exactly what I needed, so I agreed immediately and hurried home to squeeze in a run and a snack before meeting my colleague.

My run (6km at a pace slightly faster than what I hope will be "race pace" in a few weeks) allowed me to work off some of the despair and anger I felt at all the sad news. With every step, I thought of my friends and reminded myself to put aside the physical discomfort and rejoice in being alive and healthy and strong enough to push my body to its limits.

The 90 minute class that followed did even more to heal my battered spirit. As Isha led us through a series of physically challenging poses, I could feel my breathing relax, sense the energy pulsing through me, and enjoy the strength and flexibility of my body. Most importantly, the meditative quality of the movements stilled my mind and emotions enough that I could experience a little of the wonder that comes with being fully present in my life.

This evening's activities felt like good ways to honour my friends - one who died far too young but lived life with such passion and conviction, and one who will soon lose his ability to experience his body as I'm able to experience mine.  In the coming weeks and months, I want to continue to pay tribute to them by being more compassionate and generous, more open-hearted, and more genuinely grateful for my life. It seems the least I can do.

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