This is his 364th consecutive day of Bikram yoga classes. We are all in awe. For myself, who can't even make 5 classes each week for a solitary month, I am envious.
He speaks of reasons: having a tremendously rough year, losing his mother, Bikram kept him sane, and he just wanted to see if he could do it. I had seen his name on the Goal Board, on months and months and months of sticker-filled sheets; each day, every month, filled with a round, primary-colored sticker for each class he had completed. Each day... every month... for 12 months.
I told him I understood: this 90-minute class time is sometimes the only place in my life where I can relax. At the beginning of each class, I lie down, and I just feel a letting go: a release of all the tension and stress I hold inside, emotionally and physically, every single day for the past 5 months. I patted his leg with empathy and care, telling him, good for you, taking care of yourself like this. As I rolled away, and sat up, to face the windows and sun, I felt an immense sadness fill my soul and my heart. Tears formed in my eyes, as I felt connected to him and to the pain of his loss and struggle. I knew my problems were small by comparison; not that you can compare loss, but I was thankful I had not dealt with death. Then I reflected on why I felt so immensely sad, let myself feel it for some moments. I remembered my own losses the last year: loss of health, loss of relationship, loss of certain future hopes, loss of security in house and home and place and job, the current fears I am trying not to drown in... How this tide of life has turned for me. I fight those negative messages that try to slip past, and beat me down into believing that it's too hard, I'm past my prime, my strength and vigor has waned and won't return. I claimed all of the grief in those few minutes, allowing myself to feel all of the pain and own it all. Then I stood up, rolled up my mat, and was grateful for this yoga class. I felt gratitude that I am healthy and vigorous enough to do Bikram, that I could ride my bike home to a place I live, at least for now; knowing I have a job to go to on Monday, that with my bright mind and tenacity I will soon complete another education goal.
He said thank you for the encouragement, touching my shoulder as he passed in the hallway. I unlocked my bike and rode home.
There is fiction. There is life. What is the difference?
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