Insomniac girlfriend

I dare say bouts of insomnia don’t lend themselves to early morning yoga practices. Not. In. The. Least.

I made an effort at sleep for a good three hours. Even moved to the “fainting” couch downstairs to get some space and catch a cool breeze, away from the overheated bedroom and the equally warm (and sometimes snoring) body next to my restless one.

It’s not the moon tonight. I often lay my blame upon it in all of its fullness and radiant glory (something about gravity, tides, and the like), but tonight it’s just me or, in all fairness, perhaps the 1lb burrito I ingested at one point this evening. I can’t be sure. What I am sure of is that my mind is racing, but the thoughts are so fast and abundant that I can’t really keep track of them. It’s like I’m thinking of everything and nothing all at once. My brain is aflutter with absence.

What does one think about in the wee hours of the night, when the body is in a state of utter exhaustion and yet the mind wanders on, in a sleep walk of sorts, restless and agitated, yet hardly conscious? There is nothing intentional or productive going on here.

I am moving soon. In a short seven weeks. I will pack up the car, yet again, and toss in a cat, a dog, and a girlfriend and head west. Move swiftly and steadily toward my (our) next great adventure.

Twenty twelve, you had me at Hello.

Twenty eleven, thanks for the ride.

I find that when I can’t sleep, my mind often returns to the farm. There, in a series of memories, I meet my farm pup, I dig in the dirt, the wind blows in my hair, and I turn my face toward the sun. I don’t have to wear suncreen, luckily, this is a waking dream. A barely awake dream. It is, whatever you want to call it.

Back to the dream.

I return to the farm because a piece of me remains there. It is lost in the now dormant field, somewhere next to missing sunglasses and other relics of the season.  I find myself here a lot lately. Perhaps it’s that habit we all have of looking to see what’s behind us before we move forward. Wait- do we do that? Maybe not. At any rate, I’m doing it. It’s the new thing. It is SO 2012.

I’m looking backward and remembering time and the space and how they both went on forever. What felt like, endless hours of wandering forests, pondering, and imagining. How wonderfully selfish it was. Six months of navel gazing is surely bad for the neck, but I tell myself it’s good for the soul (decent, at best, for the complexion). I talk to people about my experiences there, growing food, working hard, learning invaluable lessons. And I stop. Talking. Because I’m thinking to myself, after all that work and all that time, what the hell did I learn about farming?

Something, I hope. Enough.

Enough is all I need right now to calm my brain and catch a couple of desperately needed Zs.

Moving meditations

It is strange to think that just a couple of months ago I was living on a few acres in central New York, carpooling with my fellow crew members to a farm just down the street. It was less than a mile really, or, measured in time (as we like to do ‘round here) “about five minutes.”  I often thought how seemingly ridiculous it was to be driving and not walking or biking. We were farmers, after all. Presumably tree huggers, as green in spirit as in thumb. Still, I knew perfectly well that for the lot of us, it made perfect sense. Every second of our breaks was invaluable (read: food; rest). Every ounce of energy saved, much the same.

At present I reside, once again, for this brief moment, in bustling city of Ann Arbor. I can’t walk a dog in five minutes, much less get to work on time. I have my own wheels, but until recently, haven’t had much income and so burning gas seems counterproductive, not to mention contradictory to, what is, my true tree-hugging nature.  What are the alternatives you ask? They are endless. I can walk 5 miles to work (highly unlikely and supremely time consuming, not to mention mildly unpleasant in the winter, even with the climate change), bike to work (also not entirely safe/appealing/and-we-all-know-how-fun-it-is-to-pack-two-meals-AND-a-change-of-clothes-every-morning), carpool (extremely time efficient and generally inconvenient, given I’m not the one with parking pass and flexible faculty work hour), or take advantage of local public transit.

This morning was my second consecutive ride into work on the university commuter bus. To get to this bus, I have to book it on foot for just under a mile. These walks are hurried, but also entirely pleasant and awakening. I find myself enjoying the fresh air, the damp chill, and even the seemingly permanent grayness of the sky. Thanks to the alignment of the stars, luck, or something of the sort, I consistently manage to make it to the bus stop in-the-nick-of-time. I arrive breathily, squeeze into the sardine can that is campus transportation and say a silent thank you to the God of All That is Timely and Good.

It is then that the meditation begins. My fifteen minute walk is nearly a warm up.  I move past memories–flashes of packing into busy trains in other cities, other countries–and observe my surroundings. I am swimming in a sea of college students and I feel like a century-old sea turtle amongst a school of young fish. They look like children and I find myself both fascinated and disturbed. I feel out of place and wonder if they can sense my age (Do I smell older?), or maybe spot one of my many gray hairs. In the end, it doesn’t matter really. I retreat from my people watching and move inward. I chant silently in my head or sometimes just fix my gaze on something innoccuous (How did I become that women covered in dog hair?). I sit down, if and when the opportunity presents itself- typically a whopping two stops from my destination, as students pour out by the dozens, off to their classes. Ready to start their days; start their lives.

Yesterday, on my way to work, I listed off reasons in my head to excuse the purchase of a parking pass, to warrant a daily (independent! Expedient!) commute that would relieve me of this twice daily pilgrimage. By the time I was walking home, I had thrown those excuses out the door. This is a practice of its own. It is an opportunity. It is saved energy and expenses. It is fresh air and exercise and an extra forty minutes (at least) of time well spent. For a woman who just recently transported back into the office from a glorious, wide-open field, it is even, perhaps, a blessing in disguise.

It makes not sense

It is a new year, but the theme as of late, is more akin to death than to birth. I have three friends who in the past few days have all experienced the loss of someone dear to them. For one, the miscarriage of her unborn child, nearly halfway through her pregnancy; for another, the sudden death, via drunk driver, of a friend of a friend (a married mother of three young children); the third, the seemingly senseless murder of a close friend, a shining soul no older than myself.

I am saddened by these losses, overwhelmed with empathetic thoughts, and also in awe. In awe of this universe and the way in which it works. All things, all together, meaningful and painful. Glorious and profoundly upsetting. Timely and frustratingly random. We are all so overworked, overwrought, and spread thin. More so, we are also all so blessed, if we can stretch ourselves to see it.

These deaths reminded me of my own loss, not so long ago, of the kindred (dog) spirit who captured my heart and kept me company on the farm. Her gentle soul left the earth on the morning of my departure. Cruelly. Strangely. It makes not sense. But it. Just. Is. We all come and go from this planet. Plants, animals, sentient beings. Our lives are brief or extend for decades. I have to think they all serve a purpose. What that is, I cannot say.

For me, these deaths encourage gratitude. I can’t imagine I’m alone in this. Without the cruelty of life, we might for a moment forget the qualities that bind us. Forget our impermanence. Mistake a feeling or a moment as anything but fleeting.