Monday, October 31, 2011

Thanks for the latte!

This morning I found myself at a drive-through espresso shack in Naches, Washington (a tiny little town-lette outside of Yakima). The barista, a twenty-something dressed as a she-devil for Halloween, prepared crappy lattes but delivered delightfully engaged conversation. There was something about her. She was so open, so interested, so genuine. I left the drive-through shack feeling full of joy, a happy humming coursing through my body from this little jewel of unexpected connection in Naches, Washington. It's an energy that comes when two people, even complete strangers, are both open to connecting.

Had I been the age of the barista, I likely would have taken away only the fact that my latte sucked. But now that I am comfortably into my middle age, I have the ability to recognize and appreciate this kind of random connection more readily. Historically, this has not been my forte. Good friends who eventually made their way through the deflector shield I wore through my twenties and much of my thirties often told me that I presented as "aloof, judgmental, intimidating, unavailable."

Survey says, I'm no longer the Nellie Olson of my youth. My openness evolved over time, and with age, from a combination of experiences-- childbirth, motherhood, heart break, death of my father, falling in love, therapy. All of these experiences created in me a vulnerability I couldn't fight, and ultimately an openness that was easier to bear. The ongoing experience though, that keeps me open, is yoga. Yoga is a conversation between the body and the mind, the physical and the mental. In postures that are physically demanding, requiring great balance or focus, we have to draw from the physical and the mental. When one strength falters, we draw from the other, eventually finding balance. In Savasana, where we attempt to quiet our minds, we do the same thing, quieting the body to remind the mind to be still, stilling the mind to calm the body. Connection.

The ability to connect internally enables us to feel grounded, whole, stable in ourselves. It creates an internal knowing of oneself and consequently a comfort in our own skin. For me, this internal knowing has created the ability to be open to other people. And every once in a while, like this morning, there's a surprise. A fleeting connection that, for a moment in time, makes strangers feel a little bit more like friends.

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