Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Free falling

My brothers and sisters and I span 15 years. And, aside from being pretty hopelessly liberal, the other thing we all have in common is our love of Tom Petty. When I was 35, my then 20 year old brother gave me a Tom Petty's Greatest Hits for my birthday. Awesome.

When I think of Tom Petty, I immediately start singing "Free Falling."
"I wanna free fall out into nothin'. Gonna leave this world for awhile."

Most of the other lyrics are about Tom's latest love interests and exploits, but the idea of free falling is an awesomely poignant message. The ultimate letting go. Most people I know have at least one thing in their life that plagues them-- a painful childhood memory, significant loss, bad break up. An event that grips us and seems impossible to move out of. I personally know no one who doesn't have at least one "big one." Life is equal opportunity. It's hard for us all.

So why is it that sometimes we can let go and sometimes we cannot?!!! Tom Petty says it perfectly--- because is scary as fuck!! "Free falling. Out into nothin'." That's heavy. But, as any of us who have experienced a big one in life (and gotten through it), the only way to get through a life crisis is to really dive into the great unknown of what's next. If you don't dive, you just hover, holding onto "it", never knowing what's beyond.

None of this is to say that getting through crisis is easy. God no. It's about having the understanding that getting through crisis is possible. And, that there is life beyond. In my life, I've had two significant crisis moments that I was sure I would never get through, and I, like most people found comfort in the familiarity of my feelings within that crisis. Going anywhere different felt too scary--- more grief, more pain. No way! But then, when I finally did, when I started to free fall, started to leave that world for awhile, I actually began to feel lighter.

I see this fear everyday in Standing Bow Pulling Pose. Everyone hovers on the edge of the kick and stretch, afraid to fall out, and then one day they do fall out, and it's okay. And Standing Bow Pulling Pose is never the same again. It's new. It's different. It's better. It's "write her name in the sky" good!

Thanks Tom.


  1. But the goal of Standing Bow is not to fall out so what should we do? The goal of the poses is to stay in the pose. Falling out is ok, but not the goal. Why attach fear to that? Maybe people are listening to the dialogue and trying hard? Maybe people are emerging into courage from a neutral state and that is what you see. Maybe courage makes us fall. Maybe we just get braver and braver without any opposite.

    I think "Letting Go" is the wrong message. How are we supposed to be more mindful if we are letting go? I think we should hold on and stay strong and be who we are. I go to yoga to become consciously conscious. It is a classic teaching in Asana Practice to integrate - to be who we are and incorporate new skills, new thoughts, new emotions, to refine. Asana practice helps us integrate Ego rather than compartmentalize it and excommunicate it. Rather than teaching us to fall out of a pose - we should be taught to fall in love with ourselves. We will still fall out, but in love.

    To me, free falling means the wider perspective. There is much in life that requires tunnel vision, but Asana practice integrates the mind and body so we can experience a broad vision of union and integrity. Breath and movement, mind and body.

    Part of being an adult is learning that not everything will be resolved: Life, death, heartbreak. Asana practice helps us incorporate those things into our life so that we can function. The trauma of life's tragedies is what gives us tunnelvision - our experiences inform us. Why should we subvert that? To me - free falling means accepting everything - to stand on all your life experience on one leg reaching to the mirror and kicking back and up to see the wide horizon. It's a direction to move in, not a destination.

  2. Hi Scotty.
    Thanks for your comments.
    Hope you're well!


Please share your thoughts. I want to hear them!