I swam into the holiday a little flat on gratitude. I'm not sure what it is but sometimes the amount of Barbie bodied yogis on Instagram pretzeling themselves into positions 99.9% of us will never achieve from beaches we'll never travel to with the words "Practice Gratitude" pisses me off. Which - if you read anything I post - I REALIZE says more about me than anything else, and isn't, umm, very yogi like. That lesson isn't lost on me. But let's be real, I don't always practice what I preach. I aim to, but I am FAR from perfect, and I embrace my judgy inner-bitch when she comes out.
Anyway, as I went into the week planning my posts and thinking just exactly what words of wisdom I would share about gratitude in this very special week dedicated to thankfulness, I found myself exhausted, annoyed, PMS-ing, hating on and judging the grateful beach yogis. So I skipped the forced bullshit post and reasoned with myself that the capacity for gratuity comes and goes, and it would return, and I wouldn't be marred for not posting something about gratitude.
I've recently started dating again. While I promised myself to not engage in such luxurious behavior until Hip Sobriety is well off the ground, a few things added up to push me in to the decision. Like, the fact that I stopped being able to fall asleep without spooning my Ted teddy bear (it's okay because he swears?). Like, the fact that I'm 36, I can do headstands, and I have no one to show off to besides my teddy bear.
It was time. So I turned to the internets.
And so, on Monday night, prior to hopping on the MegaBus for an 8 hour jaunt to Los Angeles to visit my family for the holiday, I found myself on an Internet Date. It's weird talking about this here, because I imagine if Internet Date works out, he'll eventually be reading this. And I hate talking about past relationships with new lovers*. (*I also hate the word lovers.) Anyway, we exchanged vital information, like things we are terrified of. I said "Going blind." And he said "Being on long distance trips without having access to vegetarian food." (Adorable).
We got to talking about my planned MegaBus tour to LA, when he inevitably asked what my plans were for making sure I had enough food. Did I grocery shop ahead of time, would I be taking a sandwich…? I told him I'd be fine, that never in my life had I been stranded traveling in the US without food (my parents used to RV). He seemed concerned and encouraged me to pack up the leftover nuts from our late-night snack to take with me. Just in case.
So on Tuesday, when my bus broke down for three hours in Hollister and we skipped the 25 minute rest stop and I arrived to LA at 10:30pm STARVED - some 11 hours later and not having eaten since the morning - I thought Huh.
And then on Wednesday, when mid-conversation with my family I lost partial site in my left eye and began seeing firework shaped sparkles, I once again thought Huh. I mean…that's one hell of a coincidence.
I called a few doctor friends (previous life perk), both of which said "sounds like a migraine, but go to the ER."
Now, understand this. Having doctor friends is a hypochondriac's dream. I am constantly asking them if something feels like a tumor, sending them pictures of skin rashes, having them reassure me that the knob in my belly isn't an Umbilical Hernia, and so on. My mind says worst case scenario, their reaction is always compassionate restrained eye-roll. So when I heard the words "ER", I immediately knew that by telling my date that I was terrified of going blind, I was now going to go blind.
It all added up. The recent loss of energy. The dull-aching-throb in my head that had come in and out for the past few weeks. The spells of blurred vision I was having late at night. I had discussed these things with a friend a week or two before. He said "Sounds like your Kundalini is rising," gave me a book on Kundalini awakenings, and sent me on my way.
"Too much yoga" and I was okay with this diagnosis??? How could I have been so stupid.
I went through the scenarios. I'd have to get health insurance. Probably move back in with my mom. But I'd still keep doing what I'm supposed to do, I reasoned. I'd do the same things blind. I thought of how wasteful I had been with my eyesight, how much I had taken it for granted. I thought about how easy I had it, and how trite any and all complaints I had ever had now seemed. I thought about no more photography, and wondered things like, Would I read faster or slower with my hands? I thought about a lot of things in those 2.5 hours between the spell and the appointment with the ophthalmologist.
Here's what is most important. I reasoned that no matter what it was, I would be okay. Don't get me wrong, I was freaking the fuck out for sure. But I knew that even if I lost everything, I'd always be okay.
Turns out…ha…it was an Ocular Migraine. A completely benign occurrence that does not lead to blindness, or indicate that you have an undiagnosed brain tumor. Etc.
Eyes dilated, $150 poorer, hours wasted, I sat in the examination chair and laughed. The kind of laugh one laughs when they find out they do not have a terminal illness or macular degeneration. A new level of gratitude achieved. And not the kind that us yogis force on everyone from time to time. The kind that comes from having something you had in the first place, and realizing just how fucking lucky you are that you still do.
The moral of the story is this. Sometimes gratitude isn't a practice or a list or a devotion or a catchphrase or something you photoshop on a picture of you in a bikini in a backbend. Sometimes we can't muster it and sometimes it feels like bullshit. And that is okay. We keep on going, we keep on trying, on our paths. If we just trust, and have faith, and give ourselves a break from "shoulding" all this spiritual crap, sometimes God will do the work for us.
Also, I applied for health insurance.