It seems strangely fitting to talk about taking a break, even from the things you love most, on Valentine’s Day.
In her book Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel sums up the need for space in relationships in three words: Fire needs air.
Of course, she’s talking about making room for the spark of sexual chemistry and attraction and eroticism. But it can be applied more broadly to the spectrum of relationships in our lives—with our families, with our vocations, with our homes and hobbies. Are we leaving room for the spark of passion, creativity, interest, and curiosity?
This is part of what my sabbatical has been about: taking a month off of teaching yoga to make space for that spark.
Here’s what I thought would happen: I’d retreat from teaching and intensify my own practice time as well as study of asana and philosophy.
Here’s what actually happened: I’ve barely been on a mat (twice, to be specific), and while I am enjoying Poser, I’m not reading much of anything. Ok, fine. I have a stack of People Magazines that I’m savoring like a box of fine chocolates — one trashy, unenlightened page at a time.
For the past two weeks (or more) there has not been any pull toward formal practice. Typically I would call on the power of Tapas, or discipline, and take myself sheepishly to the mat. And that’s valid. It’s certainly one way. Another way to is attune to my compass and follow its guide, which is very happy to take a step back. When I touch in with the question is this avoidance or is it wisdom, it feels like 92% wisdom.
When nothing works, do nothing.
Today, exactly halfway through the month (seriously, next year I’m picking a month with 31 days), I’m starting to feel gentle nudges toward the shape of a pose, or my giant yoga book cabinet. Like we’ve taken a break and now we’ll begin to get to know one another again.
Equally grateful for the break and for the flicker of spark, I am happy to be reminded that all types of relationships need room. As Esther Perel says, when two become one, there’s no “other person” to want.
Is there a relationship in your life (with your job, a friend, a lover) whose fire could use a little air? How do you know when you need some space? How do you distinguish avoidance and fear from need and intuition?
p.s. This topic rings eerily true to the vibe of my new, forthcoming site, Love Wasting Time. Soon, soon! Stay in the loop by signing up for love notes.
p.s.s. Happy Valentine’s Day!