April 2018

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I usually “walk on the sunny side of life” (as Alison Krauss sings) but last Monday in my soul the sky was “grey and white and cloudy.” (That’s Simon and Garfunkel.)

It was not just cloudy in my soul, but as I walked home from yoga in the Seattle drizzle, I looked ahead to see my cloudiness mirrored in the eastern skies. More dramatically, when I came to an intersection and looked left, then right, then left again (like I learned in second grade), I saw black thunderheads on the horizons to the north and south, bringing to mind The Dixie Chicks:  Thunderheads across the mountains / As another dream goes by. / They glow like clouds from heaven, / But the devil has to have his way. / Thunderheads will bring you to your knees, /And make you pray for a rainy day.”

These skies matched my spirit. In yoga, a substitute teacher had had us focus on triangle pose, a pose where a yogi’s legs are wider than hip-width and straight at the knees as the yogi bends from the waist, dropping one hand to the ground and raising the other to the sky.

Triangle pose is an open pose, and was my most natural and favorite pose in my first yoga days twenty years ago. In those days, I loved the openness of my heart and the ease in my twist.

Since neurosurgery, I’ve learned to alter poses so that I can still do yoga and stay in its spirit, and I’m glad for this gift, but this day as I did a variation of triangle pose, I missed the old days, the old openness, and the old ease.

I do this altered triangle pose each morning, so trying the pose in this new way was not new to me, but remembering the loss as others in the class moved easily into the position was hard, and I swallowed a sob that rose into my throat. It was this loss that I felt as I walked home in the grey day and noticed the thunderheads to my left and right. I felt sad, but I didn’t have the luxury to sit with that sadness: those thunderheads might break lose any time now, and I needed to move on.

Since my brain tumors, I’m not much for scurrying, but I scurried as best I could to get home before the hail rained down. As I rounded the corner to my house, the ABBA song “Fernando” slipped into my consciousness.

The previous afternoon, friends Allyson and Pam had joined my partner Ann and me for the Seattle Men’s chorus’s “Dancing Queen” performance. There are a jillion of these singing men, one of whom is Ann's cute cousin Michael.  They sang renditions of Abba songs, accompanying the lyrics with hand motions and silly skits. They wore ruffled shirts in bright solid colors, a visual delight of pinks, oranges, purples, and lime greens.

In a skit that introduced Abba’s most successful song, “Fernando”, the chorus acted out a scene from a war between Sweden and Spain, though I think the song is actually situated after the Mexican Revolution. The skit was campy and fun, like the song. A disco ball over the audience flashed stars across our sky to accompany the chorus’s first line: "There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright, Fernando."  

The concert was just fun and funny: just right. That morning, when I had gone into the library to return my book, a woman at the counter was singing (fairly loudly and pretty well): "There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright, Fernando." 

I laughed as she sang and asked if she had been to the Seattle Men’s Chorus. “Wasn’t that fun?” she said.

I said it was, and laughed then, and I laughed again with the memory of the concert, all that bright ruffle, and her singing in the library’s hush.

As I walked up the sidewalk into my home, I again walked on the sunny side of life. I thought I had beaten the hail home, but as it turned out, those thunderheads just drifted away—in my spirit and in the Seattle skies.

It’s strange how the darkness can come and go like that.


  1. I thought you were immune from rain and clouds, #3! I haven't been able to do yoga since my nervous system went haywire. I give it a try every few years, just in case. I had to give up swimming for 4-5 years, but that came back. I still can't pole vault, but I couldn't do that before I got sick either. :)

  2. Spring has finally (mostly) sprung in NYC. I wonder each year why I put up with the misery of snow, sleet, wind, all while waiting on platform pre-6am for train to NYC freezing my tushy off. It is the darkness and misery of life that introduces us to the light. Without all the misery of winter in the great Northeast, I would not fully be able to appreciate the joys of Spring. Without all the deep darkness and misery I have experienced on the inside I would have never been able to fully appreciate the blessings of each new day and the gratiude I feel that I am alive and happy to be that way. San Diego, literally and metaphorically, is for wimps!


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