Oscillation is a beautiful word, with gentle meanings. I actually prefer this physics-specific definition more than the general: regular variation in magnitude or position around a central point.

More on that in a minute.

[If you know me, as most of you reading this do quite well (in fact, I believe about 50% of my regular readership was instrumental in my conception), you may have noticed that if I am asked a question or have a story to tell I like to give a lot of backstory. I like to provide the background. Sometimes I have to go back a decade to give adequate backstory, eventually, breathlessly, arriving at the point. I hope this is a charming attribute rather than something a listener or reader has to grin and bear.]


Yesterday I went to my friend Morganne’s yoga class. Morganne was unable to teach for a couple of months, so her return to Heartstream was exciting news. I hadn’t attended a yoga class since I ran the Equinox relay, so that nine-mile climb was still tensing up my butt and hips and hamstrings. Morganne leads an amazing class: playful, easeful, challenging, and natural. I left feeling wide open. It felt good.

When I got home to my cold cabin I decided to make wheat tortillas from scratch. When you live in a dry cabin, every cooking endeavor requires greater consideration, as the clean up will inevitably take more effort. Also, flour and water essentially create glue, so that has to be included in your cleanup considerations. To cut a long backstory short, my kitchen got gluey, the tortillas were sticking to the rolling pin, Junie was annoyingly squeezed between my legs and the fridge (her favorite place), and I was really hungry. I became unrealistically frustrated, annoyed, and angry. And this! After my wonderful yoga class! After a wonderful day at school and with my dog! Wasn’t yoga supposed to elevate me and open up my heart and feed my compassionate fire?

Ah, I’d been duped again. To be human is to be duped!

To me, the practice of yoga does open up your heart. It opens it up and it can be scary. Opening does not mean reliably overflowing love. It means shining a light on whatever is sticking to your ribs, whatever is lodged in your hips, whatever is tensing your jaw muscles. I went to bed early, really upset.

Today I went to a poster presentation and a man that I am interested in spending more time with was there and we didn’t talk. I was disappointed and felt very vulnerable. I felt unrealistically sad. Yet, I took Junie for a walk, and started thinking, as I stomped through the dead birch leaves and old cranberry bushes. Think, think, think. And I thought about oscillation.

Oscillation! Here it is! The terminus of my backstory and the entrance of the point. Going back to our definition (regular variation in magnitude or position around a central point), one could see the “central point” as truth, whatever that means to you. And the oscillation around truth, in my mind and body, is a back-and-forth between heart opening, learning to exist. Heart opening more, learning to exist. Heart opening so much it aches, oh-I-didn’t-know-it-could-open-so-much…learning to exist.

As I grow older, my heart keeps opening up to previously unfathomable chasms. And I keep learning to exist within that deepening chasm. I get better at living with my heart, but it keeps opening deeper and more painfully and more wonderfully. I oscillate between opening and learning.

Heart-opening experiences, although they can scare us, are a necessary part of the oscillation of a healthy life.

Photo credit.

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