Connection: Form and Formless
Each year in early October I fly to see my parents in Michigan. I either take three flights to get to the upper peninsula where they pick me up the airport with one gate, or I take three flights to their home in the lower peninsula and we make the trek to the UP together. Both routes take me to the Detroit airport where I get to walk through the tunnel. It's my favorite part of the full day of travel (but the Biscoff cookies with a cup of hot tea on the Delta flights are a close second). When I get to the tunnel, I step on the moving sidewalk and just watch the changing lights in rhythm with the music as I slowly drift through. There is a button to pause the show for those that may be sensitive to the dancing lights and I will wait those 15 minutes if I have the time for the show to start again.
But this year there was no trip through the tunnel, no trip to the UP, no visit with my parents, grandfather, or other family. There was no stop at Uncle John's Cider Mill for real cider, buttermilk donuts, or an early dinner at Scalawag's (whitefish, of course). There was no shopping at the favorite tourist t-shirt shop, or drive across the Mighty Mac. There wasn't a trip to the Soo Locks or that treasured moment when I walk through the door to grandpa's to that familiar smell of the cabin.
It's been hard, but even with the distance, the memories are still there. The relationships are still there and the challenges we have faced this year doesn't change that foundation.
We're all being challenged this year. And some of those challenges have kept us from our loved ones, from our favorite activities and routines. We've been challenged to make choices about community health, our own health, the health of our loved ones. We've been challenged to find connection in new ways. Perhaps we have socially distanced, connected via Facetime or Zoom, or kept our interactions within a social bubble.
Things look different this year. They have for several months and will continue to for several more. And just when we think we have a rhythm, something shakes it up. But our foundation of connection is still there, even across the distance.
The word yoga means union. Union of body and breath, mind and spirit, self with the universe. When we think of the word yoga, we often think of iconic postures or form, but the union of yoga is intangible, it is formless. The manifestation of that union changes over time, from day to day, from moment to moment. And although taking the physical forms or postures has benefit, it is not required to reach that sense of connection. In fact, I would argue that the intangible connection is stronger and more lasting than the physical.
In fact, sometimes our focus on that form can distract us from the subtleties happening in the posture. The form we cling to in our mind may not be beneficial to our body in that moment. In fact, without that subtle awareness, it may even do damage. Even if that damage is not immediately evident.
Our union with our friends and family is also timeless and intangible. And although our interactions may look different, they can still be full and loving. If you find yourself facing circumstances that upheave your yearly traditions, perhaps you rest in the knowledge that the foundation is still there and celebrate your connection, even across the distance.
I miss my parents. I miss my extended family. I miss the real cider, the donuts, the fall colors. But experiencing October in that form this year, would bring damage. If not directly, indirectly to others' paths I might cross during the trek. But the memories, the relationships, are formless and by letting go of my expectation of the "normal" October, I can make room to celebrate our deeper and stronger connections.
I'd love to know how you are celebrating your connections! Leave a comment below, or email me to share!