On December 23rd I went to 6 a.m. yoga. I always wanted to go to 6 a.m. yoga and I fantasize all the time about what my perfect day would look like if I was my ideal self. I'd go to 6 a.m. yoga, and then I'd write for two hours while getting up hopped up on coffee like Ted Kooser would when he wrote all those poems at 5 a.m. before his mail-carrier shift. I won't bore you with the rest of my ideal-self day, but I'm sure you can imagine, because I'm sure you have one too. Maybe yours involves eating healthy or writing the great american novel each night while your children sleep. We all have these ideals- that's why ridiculous things like New Year's Resolutions or National Novel Writing Month exist. I have seen more than a few friends drive themselves a bit nutty trying to complete an entire novel in November. I'm sure it works for some, but it's always seemed like a helluva lotta pressure to me.
Anyway, when I went to 6 a.m. yoga it was nothing like I thought it would be. It was just me and another person, dark and quiet as the sun rose and the room lightened. I had imagined there would be a whole 6 a.m. yoga crowd, and that they'd be too-cheerful early risers who like getting up early a little too much, a little too loudly, for my slow-waking self. I thought I'd sneak in late and hide in the back, but the instructor gave us individual corrections, "Check to be sure you are on your right side, not your other right side," was one that made all three of us laugh, though it was just me that was on the wrong side, the other right side.
We traveled to Idaho for Christmas and I brought my laptop, thinking maybe I'd actually write a bit- I hate falling off my writing practice, even for a few days, though it happens all the time. It's more like a seesaw for me than a strict Ted Kooser-ish routine. Because, as usual when I bring my laptop on a vacation, it never left its case. I ice-skated with three generations of humans and dogs, and my husband did a pretty good figure skating routine to Taylor Swift with his 7-year old niece. We had snowball fights that got just the right amount of vicious, a bit of snow under the collar for all. It was a Shanahan Christmas done up right, with all the beautiful trimmings in Dan's mom's house.
Speaking of hospitality, at the church service, the priest talked about the word hospitality, and how it's used in the Bible. He said that it really bugged him that people tell the story of how there were "no rooms left at the inn," on Christmas Eve, because Joseph's hometown was just a small village with no such thing as an inn. What there would have been in way of lodging was Joseph's people, and they didn't welcome Joseph and Mary into their homes because they were sinners, Mary being preggers and all. So Mary had her baby in a barn and put him in a feeding trough- the Priest also said that manger sounds somehow romantic nowadays so its better to just say what it was- a feeding trough for livestock. He said Christmas was really about hospitality, which is about welcoming people, despite conflicting beliefs.
As a poet, I liked this sermon about word choice immensely, and I liked this barebones message of hospitality for Christmas 2016 very much. It seems to be what we all need to hear right now. I'd like to further suggest that we offer a bit of hospitality to ourselves, as the New Year approaches, and if you are anything like me, that ideal version of yourself starts to emerge leading to strict resolutions. I hope to make the 6 a.m. yoga class again, but I'm not going to make any big resolution about it. What I am going to resolve is to stop bringing my laptop on vacation, because every time I see it in it's case I feel that little twinge of guilt that I should be writing. I'm going to resolve to work on hospitality, to myself and others. I'm going to resolve to believe that the way I write or do yoga is already exactly as it should be and perfectly enough, that nothing I am doing is wrong, it's just the other right side.
Yoga studio link: Sellwood Yoga | Portland Yoga Studio