Friday, August 12, 2011

The Fort-Builders

When I was a kid, my brother was my favorite person to play with. We'd enter into our own world, fashioned typically of boy things like sticks, Star Wars toys, and GI Joes, and everything else would drop away.

When he and I were really young, one of our favorites was to build a fort out of the couch in the spare room. I think it's a common experience for fort-builders: ironically, they're kinda frail. My brother and I would take the cushions off and rearrange them very meticulously so that they surrounded the couch with just enough room for us to slide in on one side. Once we were inside, we had to move very carefully so as not to collapse the walls surrounding us.

There was always something so thrilling about that activity. The joy was in the doing: in the placement of the cushions, the imaginative reasons for making the fort, and the cautious entrance. Honestly, I've forgotten moments after we actually got inside. I imagine we looked at each other, reveled in our creation, and then got bored and punched our way out. Or maybe we started fighting and it all came crumbling down ;-)

I think most of the fun was in the acceptance of the cycle: you build, you love what you're doing, you appreciate it for a moment, and you let it all wash away so you can build it up again. This is particularly easy for kids to do, I think. Think of the way a toddler passes his favorite toy back and forth with you. He trusts that what you take from him, you will give back. (Maybe it's harder for us adults, but I digress...)

I feel like I'm on a similar cusp. I feel this especially strongly today. This morning, I took a step back and looked at what I've been building as I was recognized in a special tenure ceremony. For those who don't know, tenure is kind of a permanent position granted to teachers after you put in some dues and demonstrate you're qualified for the job. (Please note, not all teachers who deserve tenure are afforded an opportunity to get a job, especially these days.) It was such a lovely experience, and what was especially interesting about it was the reminder that the times we're most honored are the ones in which we're the most humbled. I stood on a stage with 12 other faculty members, feeling those two extremes pretty profoundly. I allowed myself to recognize that I've spent the last six years lovingly, joyfully (mostly) building this little fort, all the while knowing I was dependent on all those who continually show me the way and build with me. I may have "done it," but, at most, all I did was combine ideas I pretty much stole from everyone I've befriended along the way. That's the way it is. We build together, and when we're doing it right, we love the process.

It's so like yoga, isn't it? The teachers tell us over and over that it's not the degree to which you exemplify the posture, or whether you get your forehead to that knee. The more joy and compassion we bring to our practice, be with the posture, and are able to let go and happily embrace the next, well... I can't help but thinking those forts will become just a little more solid.


Danielle said...

And yes, although it is insanely joyous when you finally do get your head to your knee... the part that stands out more to me is all the hard work you did to FINALLY get there.

Josie said...

I'm so happy and proud of you. I don't have the right words all the time, but I'm just so happy to read this post, and especially the last paragraph... "the more joy and compassion we bring to our practice", that's the foundation of yoga and teaching.