Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Golden Light


Last month I got rejected from a job that I really wanted. I had the opportunity to do a follow-up interview with the director afterward. The director said that they’d liked me a lot but were looking for someone who had more comfort and experience talking about race and social justice issues. This was a hard thing to hear, but important. Like many white people, I am self-conscious and insecure about how I talk about race. I have a lot to learn. My sister Kat has been working in the field of race and equity for decades. She has deeply committed herself to this work, both on a personal and professional level. 

I asked her if she would have a conversation with me about the feedback I got and she generously agreed. Another good friend of mine who is also working to deepen her knowledge and engagement in racial justice and equity issues joined me for the Zoom call with Kat. Over the course of two hours, I got to witness my twin sister enlightening us with information, questions, exercises that would help us begin a process of being more educated and accountable. As my friend and I listened to Kat sharing her wisdom and experience it was like she was standing in front of a golden light. I saw her differently. I was meeting her fully for the first time. 

For the next few days, I digested the information Kat shared. I was grateful and impressed. I kept thinking to myself, “Kat is so smart. She knows so much.” 

I’ve had the same feeling with my sister Amy. Amy is a humor writer (Amy Culberg) and she’s hilarious. When I read her writing I am in awe, “She is so clever and FUNNY,” I frequently say to my family as I am laughing out loud. “How does she think this stuff up?” And like Kat, as I read her brilliant writing it is like I am meeting Amy anew, seeing her in her golden light.

Last week my partner Nancy and I went to some neighbors' house for drinks. They needed legal advice and Nancy is a lawyer specializing in their specific area of need. I watched Nancy give input and offer guidance for three hours. When we left I said to her, “You are so smart and you know so much! You are incredibly good at what you do.” Seeing Nancy in that golden light ignited a spark. I fell in love with her all over again.

It’s not often that we get to see our close friends and family in a different light. Mostly, we are entrenched in our roles — as sister, partner, friend. Seeing people in their other roles is a gift and an opportunity to know them more fully. For me, it’s a way to fill in the pieces of a partially finished painting. These familiar people in my life become more colorful, more complete, more exciting. 

For twenty years I taught yoga. I owned a yoga studio. I trained yoga teachers. Yoga defined me in the eyes of many people. But I rarely taught yoga to my family. To them, I was just Laura — the annoying older sister, the stubborn daughter, the nagging mother, and the quirky, neurotic spouse. 

For the past month, I have been doing a morning yoga class with my twin sister Kat. She’s trying to heal her back after many years of deferred maintenance. After a hard stop break where I didn’t do any yoga for a few months, this lovely start-of-the-day ritual has been the perfect transition to a regular yoga practice for me. We practice together, chatting through the poses about what’s going on in our lives. But I’m also her teacher, helping her find ways to heal and support her aching body. I’m offering her  another part of who I am.

At first, I was self-conscious to share this part of myself with Kat. I worried she’d judge me or find me irritating. But I was wrong. It’s been a comfortable, natural process and I look forward to it every day. At the end of class, she sends me a thank you text and we confirm our start time for the following morning. 

We all have golden lights — the parts of ourselves that make us who we are. I can think of dozens more examples — seeing my friend Kate the elementary school teacher corral a group of people at a party for a game, watching my daughter Lucia play soccer, seeing my mother at her first art opening. The golden light of the ones we love is always there. We just have to remember to look for it. 

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