“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” This American proverb was frequently quoted by my late father.
A few years ago, I found a coffee mug in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine with those words printed on the side. I bought it, and whenever I choose it from the dozen hanging on hooks in our kitchen, I know it’s one of those days when I need the reminder to be attendant to my temporary existence or motivated to make a change.
Truth be told: I usually pick it when I’ve eaten too much cake and resolve to avoid it. (I read the proverb and add on “without cake,” in the same way people add “in bed” to the end of the fortunes found inside cookies.)
(This morning, my mug is not the “This is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life” one; it’s a Starbucks “You are Here” mug — which is strange for reasons which will be revealed in subsequent paragraphs. Side note: The location featured on the mug is Los Angeles, where my sister and brother-in-law are raising their two girls. It was an impulse buy, a couple of months back, in Terminal 3 at LAX.)
Unlike every other morning in my adult life where the first thing I have to drink is either coffee or tea, I had hot water with lemon.
Not tasty. Just sour and hot. (And not in the delicious way a well-prepared Asian soup can be both hot and sour.)
Why would I wake up and think “that’s what I want to taste right now”?
For two reasons: 1) I’ve heard it’s healthful; and, 2) my routine is significantly changing today thanks to the opportunity to practice my Ashtanga yoga “Mysore style.”
Today marks a realization of a decade-long dream of my dear instructor. She is opening the yoga studio Monday through Friday to allow us Ashtangi yogis the place to practice in silence and first thing in the morning.
Because Ashtanga is the same series of poses every time, if you practice it enough, you eventually learn the order of the practice. I’ve been practicing Ashtanga (2-3 times a week; other Vinyasa yoga 3-4 times) for close to five years. I know the Ashtanga routine.
And in two hours, I’ll walk into the studio to begin a new chapter in my life. A chapter which will require a 4:00 wake-up call, hot lemon water, and silence until my practice concludes around 8:30.
Although I have been eagerly anticipating this day, I’m a bit reluctant to make the change. While many would label me a “dedicated practitioner,” in my opinion, I’ve been little more than a hack for the last half-decade.
The people I’ll see in a short time — and every day from now until the day comes that the studio no longer exists — are serious about yoga. My mere presence there among them necessarily means that I, too, must be “serious about yoga.”
And I think I may be. Finally.
While I take no pride in my “hack” status, there was something comforting about going when it worked for me, which had ballooned into 5-6 times a week. In practical terms, I won’t be going any more frequently, but when I do I’ll be among people who are there less so for exercise and much more so for the chance to find integration within themselves.
And perhaps that’s what’s most unsettling to me: I’m not sure what I’m going to discover.
And as of today, there’s no looking back.