I just taught a yoga class about looking for the light and creating light in darkness; looking for the positive rather than focusing on the negative; feeling grateful for what we have instead of focusing on what is lacking in our lives.
Then, I had a semi meltdown over breaking a small porcelain pot.
My husband smelled something burning and though we should move the dry rack that we keep posted around the pellet stove and use as a dryer since our current home does not have one. I through I should move the couch in order to move the dry rack a bit further from the stove. Rather than taking the time to move the little “side table,” which is a ramshackle, makeshift creation from three typewriters in their cases, one stacked on top of another, I went ahead and moved the couch. In the process, I managed to save the scarf from spontaneous combustion but also knocked my favorite little piece of pottery off of the, smashing it into three pieces.
Nooooo!!!!!! I ran to the fallen porcelain pot, finding the three pieces and trying to fit them back together.
Another one bites the dust, I sighed.
This latest victim was at least the fifth or sixth item I have knocked over and broken since we moved into a tiny half of a farmhouse in northern France. Every time, I want to start screaming at the top of my lungs out of frustration, grief, and disappointment. I curse the house, and my husband tells me it isn’t the house’s fault. I curse the universe, and my husband reminds me the universe is chaos.
My husband’s response to my most recent dramatic response to entropy was to encourage me to embrace mortality and impermanence. He suggested that I try to repair the piece of pottery, using a Japanese form of art called Kintsukuroi, where a piece of broken pottery is glued back together and gold paint fills the cracks to create something new. According to this tradition, “the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.”
I actively believe in this idea, but in the moment I was frustrated and not listening to reason. I stubbornly told him that I did not want to embrace mortality or impermanence. That I wanted to smash all of these broken things because they reminded me of the messiness of life. And I didn’t need or want more reminders.
He suggested that I celebrate their scars and keep them as reminders on my path to enlightenment.
I told him I am as enlightenment, and I should take everything breakable and smash it now so there would be nothing left to worry about ruining.
When we first moved in to this house, there was so much stuff everywhere that I somehow managed to find and knock over any and everything breakable. First came one of two little vases. Then my squirrel statue. Then the bowl we used for the dog’s water, which was destroyed by the kamikaze falling vase. Then my tiny owl. Then the little pot that held a jade plant, both of which were gifted to me by my adopted “little sister” neighbor in Brussels. To be fair, the latter object broke when the cat jumped up on the windowsill and knocked it over, so it would appear that the challenges of small spaces is not limited to the humans alone.
The most recent innocent bystander, a tiny porcelain barrel my husband found for me. I grieve this one perhaps most of all because it made me so happy that he had thought found it and thought of me. Every time I looked at it, it was a happy reminder of a time my husband thought of me with joy.
To a certain extent, I am amazed this little pot lasted as long as it did. To be fair, I think I only recently unearthed it from its bubble wrap shroud. I guess I thought the time of knocking things over had passed.
The seemingly never-ending roller coaster that will be known to posterity as the year 2020 has been hard on many. I can’t think any person I know who has managed to escape unscathed or untouched. I think the greatest challenge in my own life has been the strain on my relationship with my husband. We have both come to exist in a space where we are constantly on edge. We don’t seem to find as much joy in our relationship. We irritate each other with everything we do. My husband leaves crumbs on the counter. I move things that are his, violating his need for control over his own stuff.
In this tiny space, I not only have trouble moving around all of the stuff that makes it difficult to navigate with any kind of grace. We also do not have any space wholly our own. There just isn’t room.
I know compared to a person living in an apartment in Tokyo that we likely seem to be living in an abundance of open space, but given my tendency to move at the speed of a squirrel/Tasmanian devil in a china shop, I tend to knock into things (and you already know the outcome).
My husband has suggested that I try slowing down, but I have not managed to incorporate this into my Vatta air energy.
Side note: In Ayurvedic yoga, the science of the body, there are three doshas or personality types. We are each born with certain propensity for all three but tend more strongly toward one or two. And we can find ourselves out of balance with our doshas, experiencing repercussions like knocking into things and breaking fragile porcelain pots. To learn more about the three doshas of Earth, Water, and Air, visit: Banyan Botanicals.
At this site, you can take a dosha test, which is fun, and learn about how to bring your dosha back into balance if you are feeling unsteady, which certainly may be a repercussion of living through 2020. You can also Google “dosha Ayurveda,” and many different options will magically appear at your fingertips.
This afternoon, I suggested that my husband allow me the chance to grieve these broken objects. This was after I had gone around and picked up all of the items I have attempted to repair (and not very well) because I wanted to take them outside and smash them with a hammer to try to expel and exorcise my rage and frustration.
He was not supportive of this intention, suggesting that I would likely injure myself in the process and so no, he was not going to approve.
I sat on the couch on the other side of the room and suggested we create a demarcation zone to offer the illusion of having our own separate space.
Maybe we could put the room divider into the middle of the room, he suggested.
The room divider, which we have not managed to sell and don’t have space to put anywhere, has been tucked against the wall on the other side of the table. All of our suitcases and boxes have found similar “hiding spaces,” some better hidden than others.
There are suitcases and boxes piled up behind a couch, underneath the stairs, and several mattresses and broken down bedframes stacked behind two standing wardrobes in one of the two rooms upstairs in what has become a cat palace paradise. The presence of all of this stuff makes the space feel even more cramped.
If I wish to practice what I teach in yoga, I could remember that just as life is impermanence, so too is our time in this cramped space. This too shall pass. 2020 shall pass, and sooner than later.
This time of isolation, of being locked indoors and away from family and friends is temporary (I hope and have to try to believe for my own sanity and for the sake of my marriage).
And so, I will continue to ride the wave of 2020. The winter solstice is fast approaching, which means that the days will grow longer. There will be more light to help balance the darkness.
In the interim, I have my yoga mat as sanctuary. I have medication to soothe my inner tempest. I have bourbon. And I have my health and people who love me. Even my husband, who came to stand in front of me with arms open, closing behind me into a soothing embrace when I ventured in to rest my head against his heart.
1 thought on “Things fall apart”
Once when I was angry I threw something across the room and damaged an antique car planter that my aunt had made for me. It was the late 70s and making people porcelain Big Bird cookie jars and – oh, there it is – Chewbacca, it was the Chewbacca bust that got totally smashed. This story made me think about all of the stuff that I had broken – accidentally or when lashing out when angry – over the years. But I couldn’t remember all of those things at first, I could only feel the long distant regret and loss.
Until I started to write the comment and visualizing where the planter sat and how it’s wheel had snapped off and then moving on to describe the other things about the house my aunt had made that I also remembered how Chewbacca had been demolished beyond repair. I was maybe 9 or 10 at the time. I can still feel the loss and regret that more or less stopped me from throwing things when I get angry.
But it was interesting to note that I didn’t immediately remember the thing. I can’t really recall all the other things that have been ruined but still survive as a small piece of my historical feeling of regret. Maybe it’s the knowledge that the loss is going to add to our regrets that triggers our feelings over something broken more than losing the broken thing itself? It’s the immediate loss and then, quietly, subtlety, the larger echo of all of those other losses being amplified in the now. And if those losses chain together like yours did, that echo isn’t so quiet or subtle anymore.