It’s approaching 1 in the morning and I still can’t sleep. This pillow is all wrong. I sleep with it every night but for some reason right now, it feels foreign – like I’m back in college sleeping on someone’s futon and they’ve tossed me a couch cushion in lieu of a proper pillow.
Little Foot woke up an hour ago. Luckily I managed to get him back to sleep pretty quickly. He’s been doing this thing lately, where if I just hold one of his hands in mine for 10 or so minutes, he falls back asleep. It’s adorable. He holds my hand to fall asleep. It’s a habit I should probably be concerned with breaking soon but…I love it.
King Ranch is sleeping, but is tossing and turning more than usual. I’m worried that it’s me keeping him awake, so I slide out of bed and wrap up in my robe.
In the living room, we’ve left a lamp on near the front door with a low-watt bulb that makes everything amber. It’s so quiet and in this dim light, so cozy. I bundle into a throw blanket and plop down on the couch. The cushions are cool from being empty for several hours.
I relax my shoulders and my face.
Has that clock on the wall always ticked so loudly?
I bury my head under the blanket.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
I can’t take it anymore, so I throw the blanket on the floor and walk into the kitchen while adjusting my robe a little tighter around my waist.
Not entirely sure what I’m looking for, I open the fridge. Leftover stir fry in a red-topped Tupperware. A bag of oranges. A half-eaten container of Little Foot’s sweet potato baby food. Many, many condiments.
I take four carrots out of the bag and head into the utility room. Still barefoot, I pull on my mud boots and slip on King Ranch’s green jacket that is hanging by the backdoor. Back in the living room, I hear the jingling of Thing One’s collar as I open our back door. Every door creaks in this house.
“You coming?” I ask, holding the screen door open. Thing One scrambles outside as I softly close the door behind me.
It’s chilly outside, but only because of the wind. We’ve had a bit of a warm front here at the end of January, which isn’t uncommon for Texas winters. The chimes on our patio are ringing hauntingly as they clang their low-belly song.
Above me is a blanket of stars. From horizon to horizon there are twinkling stars of every shape and color. Interesting that you can only see the sparkling of stars when it’s otherwise completely dark. Magic.
I unlatch the lock on the gate that leads into the pasture while making a clicking sound with the back of my tongue and scanning the pasture for movement as best I can without wearing my glasses. I’m still not entirely sure where the donkeys sleep or if they even have a designated spot.
By the back-house, I notice a slow moving shadow and then the yellow reflection of one giant eye. There she is.
“Come here, little girl,” I whisper loudly. I hear a snort and can finally see Bunny’s shape emerge from the shadows. Not far behind her is Tyrion.
The donkeys slowly saunter up to me, their eyes wide with curiosity. I pull the carrots out of King Ranch’s jacket pocket and snap them in all in half. Alternating between Bunny and Tee based on the loudness of their crunching, I give them a piece of carrot at a time. The nose each other to try and get in the way of one another.
“It’s all gone,” I say. Bunny and Tee continue to sniff my hands. I’m wishing I’d brought out more carrots.
Tee snorts and moves past me a bit to graze on a patch of grass. Bunny stays with me and leans all of her weight into my side.
Squatting down, I put a hand on either side of her jaw and scratch.
I’d do anything to keep her healthy and safe. Bunny and Tee. I don’t need anything in return. I don’t want anything in return. I just want to spend time with them. Take care of them. I’m briefly angry at Bunny’s previous owner for leaving her behind without any of her companions, but then I’m immediately grateful that she gets to be a part of our family now. Darkness turned light, I suppose.
I think of this family: King Ranch and Little Foot sleeping inside. These donkeys. Thing One sniffing around the yard. Even our flock of chickens – I just want them all to be healthy and happy. I just want them all to sleep at night knowing that not only will the sun come up tomorrow, but when it does, it will be on a day that will in one way or another, be filled with wonder.
After all, we are floating in space on a blue and green planet, circling a massive ball of fire and gas. The air we breathe is thanks to the trees that grow. The Earth we walk on is thanks to the gravity that keeps us grounded. Seems like magic.
I’m still squatting down in front of Bunny who is resting her head on my shoulder. I start humming something. She begins to sway, and I with her. Tyrion wanders back over and rests his head in my lap.
The warmth from their heavy exhales is enough to cancel out the chilly breeze. It’s almost too warm. Their heads are heavy on me, but I don’t care. I love it. All of it.
I just want them to feel safe.
After a while, I realize I’ve lost feeling in my feet from crouching down, so I slowly stand up, a hand on each donkey. They keep leaning their weight into me. I decide to stay outside for just a little while longer.
The breeze is cool on my face. The stars, a twinkling symphony. The chimes are distantly ringing.
Back inside, King Ranch and Little Foot are still sleeping. I sit in the chair in Little Foot’s room for a while listening to him breathe. I’m remembering what it felt like when I was pregnant with him and I couldn’t sleep. He’d wiggle and flail and I’d sit up and chat with him in the dim middle-of-the-night light. I wondered what he’d be like. Now, there he is – breathing the same air as us.
I never really go back to sleep on this night – and I’m not upset about it.
It’s two days later and I’ve just finished teaching a yoga class in town. I’ve been at this particular studio long enough to expect a host of usual suspects in my classes on normal days…
…I’ve actually been stuck at this sentence for a while now trying to find a way to describe how it feels to teach a yoga class.
At the risk of sounding ambiguous, it’s other-worldly. I find so much joy in being able to provide a space where people can just be. From my own experiences, I know the weight of the world can seem so heavy sometimes. We all experience that in our own ways. We all have more responsibilities than should ever be humanly possible. We all have scars. We are all held to standards and expectations set by sources other than ourselves. It’s why we’re anxious and self conscious and critical of every little thing about ourselves – because the world has made us that way.
So for an hour at a time at the studio, I do everything I can to slow down life for just a bit. I want so badly for my students to be able to see their beauty and their worth. And then I want them to be able to carry that around with them. I want them to look at themselves and be proud. I want them to feel loved.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that to teach yoga is an honor. It’s an honor to have the opportunity to try and connect with people when they’re at their most vulnerable. Physically and mentally, yoga is quite outside the norm by today’s standards. So it’s truly an honor to facilitate that hopeful process.
As I’m leaving the studio, fully ready to return to my normal life, I am, out of nowhere, reminded of this quote by Roald Dahl:
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
Then it hits me – Love is magic.
If you don’t believe in magic, you’ll never find it. If you don’t believe in love, you’ll never find it.
Love is what I have for these members at the studio. It’s what I’m trying to pour out of myself as I lead these yoga classes where I don’t care if they can touch their toes or not. I just want them to feel loved. Love is these members putting trust in me to let their walls down. Love is them, in some cases for the first time, being purely themselves – and being proud of that. Love is what they’re sending back to me and why I’ve been having a hard time describing the experience.
Love is what brought Little Foot into existence. Love is what keeps King Ranch and I together. Love is Thing One trying to protect us from what he perceives as threats to our family. Love is Bunny and Tee swaying with me in the middle of the night – and me wanting them to never, ever be abandoned again.
Love must be those feelings of protective mom and wife I get when it comes to Little Foot and King Ranch and truly having no boundaries or lines for what I would do to keep them safe and healthy. I’ve talked about it before – how I’d fight the masses and infiltrate the mob. Hell hath no fury like a loving wife and mother.
As I’m leaving this studio today, I am feeling loved. I am feeling so magically loved.
King Ranch. Little Foot. Thing One. Bunny. Tyrion. All of the staff and members of this studio. I am feeling so utterly and unconditionally loved.
Love. It’s magic. Open your glittering eyes and look for it. It’s out there – in its purest form, it’s out there.