Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Little Knowledge is More Than You Think

A few years ago, I was in a toy store shopping for Christmas. I have always loved being in nice toy stores. Although it seems like my kids have more toys than any other kids in the entire world, I rarely buy them toys. It was a bustling December day, alive with the holiday shopping energy. I had time and was enjoying browsing, carefully thinking what each child would enjoy, how I would enjoy playing it with them. If I am shopping with Steve, this pleasure is never allowed. But that day, there was no, “Hurry up. Let’s go. Let’s check this off the list. Just grab something. Decision made.” I was also free from, “Mom, look at this. Can I please have this? Pllllllleeeeease. Add this to my list. Come see this. Isn’t it cool? I would really use this alot.” I was relaxed.

Someone walked in and the happy sales woman asked, “Can I help you find something?”

“I am looking for a game called Blokus.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. We just can’t keep that in the store. It is the hot thing this Christmas.”

My ears perked up at this. I am never in on THE HOT THING. I remember as a student in school, I always hated current events. I would rather read a good book. I liked history, I read encyclopedias. I like the solid, the proven. Why read something that will only be good today? I didn’t like quick short reads. I liked to savor, to immerse myself in the other worlds of books. Same with the music scene; it was too much work to keep up with it.

Anyway, back to the HOT THING. Over the next 20 minutes, four separate people came in asking for this game. I was excited to have the info on the new in thing. I kept browsing, repeating Blokus Blokus Blokus over and over in my head so as not to forget. I had drawn my brother in laws name for the Christmas gift exchange, and I wanted to get this for him, for their family to play.

I was examining other games and I heard someone’s surprise delight in the back, “Come look,” she implored to her co- worker. It was not obnoxious or loud, didn’t call attention; it just registered for some reason.

A few minutes later the manager comes up next to me and sets down a box. She opens it and starts to pull out the contents. Another customer almost accosts her saying, “Is that Blokus?” “Yes, we just got in a new box of them.” Suddenly, I was in the midst of a scene that looked like a news bit from Black Friday. There were arms and pushes and scratches and I was literally in the middle of it with the sales lady. She shoves two games in my hands and I just stand there until it was done. It lasted about as long as our golden retriever eating a bowl of dog food - maybe a minute or two. Just like that, I found myself with two of the NEW HOT THING.

I carried them around the store with me and they were a great conversation piece. “Where did you get those?” “Isn’t that a great game?” “My grand kids have that game and we all play it together.” “How do you play?” “Why is that the new hot game?” I had to jump on the bandwagon fast because suddenly I was the one in the know.

I have found myself in the same position about Kripalu. I landed there by surprise in a strange way; my mode of transportation may as well have been a broomstick by night in front of a whole moon. I had no knowledge of the place, and little knowledge of the author I was following there. It was one of my crazy adventures I love.

Funny thing about this adventure, I told less than a handful of people what I was doing. Upon my return, everyone started asking about it. At first I thought I was losing it. I didn’t remember telling people, but I am not a super private person and thought I must have shared with a few. I soon learned that my husband had walked around with a megaphone glued to his mouth the entire weekend letting the community know that I had gone to a writing workshop for the weekend. Bless his heart. When I write thank you notes, he tells me what a great author I am. He was proud.

I didn’t tell anyone because I hate the follow up questions. “You write. Cool. What do you write?” I have learned that no author likes this question, but the experienced ones put up with it, or prepare a canned response. I would answer, “Thank you notes,” but that would get me into trouble with the thousand or so people I owe those to.

Everyone wanted to know more. I couldn’t talk about it. I couldn’t explain it. I came back calmer and resolved to keep plodding along. People are not used to me not talking so they had to ask specific answers only to get one word responses, like when I ask my kids about their days at school. “How was your day?” Fine. “What did you do at recess?” Played soccer. “With whom did you play soccer?” Lots of people.

It went something like this. “How was your weekend away?” Fine. “Where did you go?” East. “Where out East?” Western Mass. “Steve said you went to a writing workshop.” Yes, I did. “Tell me about it.” It wasn’t what I expected, I didn’t really fit it. Everyone did yoga and chanted and ate veggie broth for breakfast. I wanted coffee in the mornings and was disappointed that there wasn’t a bar. And then, because I am not dishing, they turn it to them, “I want to do something like that.” or, “I’ve always wanted to do a silent retreat.” I am simply not able to have this conversation. I don’t know anything.

Anyway, back to being the expert on Kripalu. For the second time since my return in as many weeks, I went to a yoga class called Kripalu Yoga. I still don’t know what Kripalu yoga is, but the time worked for me and I am coming to like how I feel when I go. Because she had just returned from there, the teacher was all Kripalu-giddy, a feeling I DO know, and she wanted to talk about it. Everyone nodded their heads to be nice but she soon realized they just wanted to get started.

After the class was over, I was chatting with my friend when the instructor and another lady were somehow in our conversation. Surprisingly, Kripalu came up. My friend pointed at me and said, “She’s been there.” I smiled and said, “Yes, I was just there a couple of weeks ago.” She got all excited again, so I had to burst her bubble before it got too big. “I didn’t do yoga though.” For an instant, she looked at me like I had three heads, but because she is in her joy to the world everyone is on their own journey peacefulness, she smiled, and I could see the question spread across her body. Going to Kripalu without doing yoga is like going to the grocery store and not buying groceries or going to the gas station and not getting gas.

“It’s a long story, but I didn’t realize what it was about.”

My friend rejoins the conversation, “But she came back and has been doing yoga ever since.” The consolation prize.

Clearly these folks were not within range of my husbands megaphone during the weekend I went to Kripalu. I explained, “I needed to get away and I learned of this writers conference and thats why I went. Why did I come back and start doing yoga? I don’t know really. The place gets into you. It’s hard to explain.”

The instructor nodded her head because she knew and the other lady was asking more questions, where is it, tell me more about it, is it spiritual, what is the yoga like. I looked in her eyes and knew she was looking for more, working on her journey and was looking everywhere for answers, even to me.

It reminded me of something I read last night. In Kyran Pittman’s Planting Dandelions, she was telling a story reminiscing of being young in the car in a rain storm with her parents. She was so relaxed, watching the drops on the window, and felt so safe with her parents, the implication being they knew everything and could handle this fine. Flash forward to when she was a parent driving with her kids in the car, white knuckled, shoulders hunched, scared to death. Just as she understood that her kids trusted her instinct and knowledge to keep them safe, she said suddenly you realize YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT.

This was her fear talking. She knew more than she knew. Her kids were safely buckled in and you have to assume they made it home fine because the story goes on.

And so our stories go on. We learn and grow and make changes in small steps. Even after taking just the first few steps, there are those behind us that are ready to start. We don’t give ourselves credit for what we know or what we have done. Just as there is much change going on in a cocoon before the emergence, we all have much going on in our thoughts and beings before we can take the first step. We find ourselves knowing more than some, and it surprises us.

“At the beginning, Lincoln was so inexperienced he had reverence for military expertise, not realizing that there wasn't any military expertise.”

David Herbert Donald, Hisorian


  1. Wow. I am a fan. Fo' shiz.

    I was crying by the end of this, even while I was laughing. Your husband is right about you - you are an author!

  2. I loved that passage in Planting Dandelions. So feel the same way. And damn I'm mad we didn't meet at Kripalu! xo