is this right?

Yesterday I treated myself to a lovely getaway, a nature day by the river near Auburn.

A friend had given me directions to a favorite spot and I set off in the morning with the essentials: journal, water, and lunch.

I followed the directions through town and ended up on the winding road where I would look for the “2nd yellow gate.”

Except the gates were green (I love you, K).

No big. I figured green gates were like yellow gates and this second gate was probably the one.

Park. Repack tote. (I should mention my “essentials” also included my camera and two lenses, 3 journals total, a picnic blanket, my iPod, two hats, and a towel.) And start off down the trail.

The directions to Special Spot included the route of the trail since there are many forks and paths. I remembered my sweet friend talking about the main trail ending in a T, and rather than going left or right, I should go straight on a little walking path.

Hmm. Straight was over the edge of a little cliff. Even my dad, who practically refuses to use a trail, would have found another route.

Ok, well, the little path must be somewhere.

So walked to the left and finally spotted the river below. Wow, waaaay below.

(Did I tell you I did not wear appropriate footwear and had already slipped several times? Good thing I had that ginormous tote for padding.)

And lo and behold, a little path off the side of the hill. Wishing I’d packed some mountain climber’s clips and ropes I slid, crashed, tumbled, somehow made it down.

You know how you get a picture in your head of how something’s going to look? It’s not that my mental picture was better or more beautiful than where I was, it was just SO different.

So I’m looking for the place in my head which I had come up with through my friend’s description of Special Spot. Couldn’t find it.

I set up under a beautiful olive tree that had been fashioned into a full-on tent. It had a blown up pool air mattress and a pair of men’s shoes inside. Little messages (high time ’08, and nutty buddy ’09) written on rocks lined the sides. It was sweet, though kind of strange, but no one was around and it was the only shade so I set up shop.

At this point (which is actually the point of this whole story) I couldn’t stop obsessing over whether I was in the right spot.

Is this right? Am I in the right place?

I was writing it in my journal:

I don’t know if I’m in the right place…

Eventually, I overheard myself say it and realized: I could be in yoga class.

This is how new people in yoga class feel!

Am in the right place?
I’ve followed all the instructions, but I’m not sure this is right.
I followed most of the instructions; some of them didn’t make sense.
This is harder than I thought it would be.
This is different than I thought it would be.

And, of course, the gem here is that I (and those of us who have thought those things in yoga class) was completely missing where I was. It was beautiful, it was gorgeous and perfect but I wasn’t seeing it. I was too caught up in my expectation and my wanting to get it “right.”

Sound familiar?

I shared pieces of this story last night in class. Below is the poem from the practice and a few pictures from my nature day.

And today my mantra is: I am in exactly the right place.


climbing by Lucille Clifton

a woman precedes me up the long rope,
her dangling braids the color of rain.
maybe i should have had braids.
maybe i should have kept the body i started,
slim and possible as a boy’s bone.
maybe i should have wanted less.
maybe i should have ignored the bowl in me
burning to be filled.
maybe i should have wanted less.
the woman passes the notch in the rope
marked Sixty.  i rise toward it, struggling,
hand over hungry hand.


shelter for the afternoon

zen rock art and the beautiful pool

a moment of surrender under the olive tree


5 Responses to “is this right?”

  1. 1 Madeleine September 3, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Love this! Thank you for the insight.

  2. 2 Kelley M September 3, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    I really found great connection to this story. I am always wondering if this is the “right place.” And often even if this is the “right place” is there somewhere “better?” I do this a lot with my free time (day trips, weekends, vacations, etc.) It really sucks to not ever be pleased with where you are but I’m aware and working on it. I read a book passage recently about perfectionism and it turns out perfectionists are always on the look out for the “perfect” everything and have been rewarded, at times, by going on this tedious search. Thus, they continue to search for the ultimate reward. But more often than anything else, the search ruins the outing or the worry that you haven’t quite searched enough lingers in the back of your mind making it so that you are not present in the moment.

    Great connection to the first day of yoga too. I feel this way even now when it’s a new yoga teacher or new space or new time, etc. Change is hard too and we always wonder if we’re holding up to what is expected of us….”is this right? or am I doing it right?”


  3. 3 yogaquest September 6, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Well whatever spot you fell, slid, tumbled, and ultimately landed in offered you far more than the area my feeble directions might have taken you to. Of course you found your own way, you always seem to…and for your insights and beautiful offering, I think I’m almost glad my greens and yellows mixed. Not sure where you were friend, but apparently it was just the “right” spot, for as wonderfully wrong as it was. Should I even ask for directions…?


  4. 4 Eric Dye September 28, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Great post . . . I really related to a lot of what you were saying.

    Plus, you really did find a gorgeous spot. Certain types of trees, including olive trees, instantly make me feel more calm and happy. = )

  5. 5 Leili November 29, 2010 at 5:54 am

    I’m so glad I found this post. Wonderful.

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