Personal Development


"Paper Tree Imitates Real Tree" © Theen Moy, 2014. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Paper Tree Imitates Real Tree” © Theen Moy, 2014. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

My yoga teacher gives instruction as if he is reciting poetry. He plays music and falls into rhythm with it, his voice adjusts in volume with the intensity of the pose. As we exhale into position, he gets louder. Brings the lights up a little bit, mimics the sunrise happening through the windows. The practice he guides us through feels like a steady drop of water on my spine. Slow and with purpose it etches away the previous day. The night of tossing and turning.

I make it a point to talk to him. To the other people in my class. While we change from our stretchy clothes into our work attire in the bathroom I strike up conversation. Make eye contact. We don’t need to bond or learn names. I just need to know that I’m noticed so I can remind myself if I don’t show up someone will feel my absence. Keep creating new places you matter. That’s the trick. That’s all it is.

When I was a teenager my idea of “sneaking out” was leaving a note for my parents on my desk and exiting through the front door. There were no tiptoes, just gentle motions to avoid waking those already asleep. A respect for their rest more than an intent of secrecy. If anyone went in to check on me they’d find something like:

George is having a bad night.
Went out for food.
Back soon. Love you!
—Ruby (1 AM)

on a Post-it® note. But I don’t know if anyone ever did. No one ever said.

It soon felt like I could float in and out of my home unnoticed. A gradual shift in temperature or humidity. Barely detectable among everything else that was happening under that roof. I found different places to matter.

George had driven up from Salem on accident. Another soul who understands that when nothing makes sense you pick a direction on Interstate 5 and you just go. We talked on the phone for most of the drive. When he finally said, “Okay, I’m here,” I had my coat and shoes on before he could add, “Come out.”

He didn’t pull into the driveway. I walked out into the quiet, country road night and folded myself into the passenger’s seat of his Toyota Tercel. We drove another thirty minutes north to the set of diner’s open twenty-four hours. The age-old debate between Denny’s and Shari’s ensued and we settled on the place with the better shakes.

Chocolate for me. Strawberry-banana for him. I likely ordered stuffed hash-browns (no bacon) and he definitely got a veggie omelette. We talked about music, about school, about relationships. We did not touch on how hard existing is. Sometimes you just need someone to sit at a table with. To notice you’re present. To witness your heart still beating hard in your chest.



"Honey" © Dino Giordano, 2008. CC BY 2.0.
Honey” © Dino Giordano, 2008. CC BY 2.0.
I skipped the gym this weekend. Slept in on Saturday. Read books about football at a coffee shop and learned how to edit the CSS on my blog. Didn’t write anything that wasn’t code or text messages to friends. We ate ice cream and pizza. Watched TV.

And I was okay with everything.

Didn’t make up any stories about failure or wasting time. Didn’t try to assign meaning to food consumed or hours spent sitting, spent sleeping. We were playful and our apartment dripped with laughter. Kisses exchanged during lulls in the storyline. Shoulder rubs traded between trips to get another cup of coffee.


It’s been five days since I last felt hopeless. Since I felt the need to curl my knees into my chest and squeeze tight enough to shut myself completely. Existing hasn’t been hurting and that’s exciting. I’ve been catching myself humming.

The laziness of the weekend didn’t get a grasp on Monday morning. I bounced out of bed and made my way to yoga class. No griping about messing anything up. No mumbling about how I should have done something different.

Waiting for the tightness to creep into my chest. To whisper that I need to start preparing. Nothing smooth can last. We’re all bound to slip again. The impermanence of joy, of ease, of comfort. But instead I take another breath and ask, “Why should that matter?”

It’s easy now. Just let it be.



Sprouting Onion” © Theen Moy, 2014. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
The ground has thawed. Spring is clawing up through the mud.

A line from Astronautalis keeps repeating in my head. “We swim against the tide until our every bone is broken.”


We don’t think we can do this. Any of it. Keep giving it our best and knowing it isn’t even close to good enough.

But every day we keep existing is proof to the contrary. It’s always been sufficient.


In yoga my teacher talks about impermanence. Nothing stays. Joy, sadness, life. It all flits in and out of existence.

I roll my eyes in a very sarcastic “tell me something I don’t know” way as I exhale back into downward dog.

An hour later I approach her softly and start speaking before she turns to face me. “Thank you. That was exactly what I needed to hear today.”

Clawing our way up. Reaching.