Stepping out of the 72nd street subway station, my shoulders soften at the sight of the Ansonia Building on my left, the Apple Bank building on my right. Immediately my breath becomes easy. Every time I arrive here I return to myself. Many, many years ago, this was my neighborhood, my station stop. It still feels like the place that knows me best. Millions of memories have been made here in the ensuing years because I come back often, both alone and with dear loved ones. It is home. I’m in the city to attend a friend’s Birthday party in Midtown and will stay the night on my beloved Upper West Side and take a couple of yoga classes while I’m here. Fresh from a glorious vacation I feel open and look forward to breathing in new experiences in this very familiar place.
Walking up the stairs to the party I take a deep breath. I am a nervous party-goer generally and tonight there will only be a few people I know (at best), most of whom I haven’t seen in decades. The potential for awkwardness is high. But once in, I surprise myself by feeling airy and light. When I see a familiar face, I go right up to them, even when I have to wait for a gap in their current interaction or re-introduce myself and explain how I know them. It doesn’t phase me. My desire to connect cleanses me of my trepidation. I am introduced to new people. I have satisfying conversations; reminiscing, inquiring, reflecting. It all feels expansive, like an inhalation that goes on and on and on. I leave with a sense of buoyancy and satisfaction.
It is early morning as I go to my Dad’s memorial bench in Central Park to sit and be with him and share highlights of the wonderful trip I took with my Sister. I tell him how much we thought of him, how much we miss him. In my telling my breath catches with emotion but I don’t hold it. Instead I exhale and continue to regale him with gratitude and stories, out loud. I make sure to remind him how much I love and appreciate the life he gave me. It is of no consequence to me what people may think, but I trust that anyone walking by will understand what is happening and breathe with me.
I head to my second yoga class of the weekend at a studio nearby. It smells good in there, like a spa, and I breathe in the unique blend of poshness and peace. The class is challenging and good. When the teacher says “you are stronger than you think you are” I believe him. I go deeper. Welcoming sensation, I maintain my wisdom while igniting my thirst for adventure. It is suddenly obvious that I can do both. I’ve been so careful with myself lately. So I breathe that out and inhale a greater respect for my own ability.
Walking from the studio back to my hotel I send out a wish for us all:
May we breathe at full capacity: letting experiences in, letting emotions out.
May we remember our ability and strength.
May we listen to our yearning for connection more than we listen to our fear.
May we touch the places we call home often, and with gratitude.