On the End of the Year
The year is winding down to a close and it’s ending, fittingly enough, on a note of gratitude.
I say “fittingly” and not “inevitably” because like most virtues, gratitude has to be generated. We often have to fashion it from the most unprepossessing materials of anger, anxiety, annoyance, dismay, distraction, evasion, fear, impatience, irritation and preoccupation—the emotions that color our frantic, postmodern lives the most.
For myself and Abbey, these emotions have certainly been present in abundance this 2012 with the opening of White Space Wellness. It was just a little over a year ago (the first Thursday of December 2011 to be precise) when we first stepped into the bare, concrete cavern that would eventually become the studio. The magnitude of the undertaking the space represented was, quite frankly, beyond what we imagined—perhaps even beyond what we wanted. Up to that point, my idea of dreaming big had been to dream up to the limits of what was achievable by my resources, as measured by time, money, connections, knowledge, skills, experience and energy. A cursory examination of the bare, concrete cavern we found ourselves in quickly revealed that opening a studio in that particular location would require resources that vastly exceeded what we possessed at that point. We were novice yoga teachers with absolutely no entrepreneurial background and very limited capital. Grabbing the opportunity was therefore one of the most idiotic things we could do.
It’s still one of the most idiotic things I’ve personally ever done. Yet the lack of resources notwithstanding, White Space Wellness opened less than six months after that initial visit. Today, it’s home to a small but thriving community of teachers and practitioners who greet each other by name, swap books, exchange tips, chat over tea, and discuss the finer points of doing Chaturanga Dandasana, the differences between pilates and yoga breath techniques, the distinctions between Yang- and Chen-style t’ai chi, what sets Reiki apart from other energy healing modalities, and the growing number of tiny but significant victories from constant practice. The fact that it’s become a home to a community is what tells me and Abbey that in spite of all the unforeseen challenges, all the galling failures and all the costly mistakes, we’re doing something right. Because what we saw in that bare, concrete cavern more than a year ago was a home and a community: a safe space where people with a common vision of what it means to live life well could come together, learn together and stumble together—and after brushing each other off and laughing at each other (raucously if necessary)—try again.
I’ve never stopped being afraid, to be honest—never stopped feeling the anger, anxiety, annoyance, dismay, distraction, evasion, fear, impatience, irritation and preoccupation that comes from a sense of lack. There are still many instances of crippling self-doubt, debilitating lethargy and harrowing indecision. But what makes it easier (though still not easy) for me to generate gratitude from this morass of negativity are the many moments of grace and the many acts of kindness from family, friends, teachers, clients and students. To be able to hold a space where people can practice intensely personal disciplines like yoga—a discipline that often triggers subtle yet profound shifts in other aspects of one’s life—and to be able to give people a much-needed sense of vitality, harmony and serenity are two enormous and ever-humbling privileges.
So to all of you who’ve granted me and Abbey these privileges, whether by your assistance, encouragement, friendship, patronage or any other form of support, thank you. Thank you for being part of our lives, thank you for being part of our community and thank you for being part of the wonderful roller coaster that was 2012.
Here’s to the year that was and here’s to the year that’s yet to be. As always, we hope that whatever you discover “on the mat” will benefit your life and those of others off the mat.
Eileen and Abbey