by Ryan Allen

I’m building up to something

although I don’t know what

and I remember what Steve Jobs said

about not being able to connect the dots in the present

and how we can only really see

when we look back,

but then instead

I look up

and bear witness to a star-filled sky

and a meteor shower comes

and what I watch in the night sky

is my ancestors

reminding me that energy is all

and I am not only part of it,

I am it.

And then I know:

this is what faith is. I must believe—

that as my muscles stretch

my spirit grows,

that as my breath deepens

my brain learns,

and that as I listen more

my heart opens

to hear the om of the universe

and it sounds like my ancestors talking

and they’re telling me

that they existed for me—

so that I could have this breath,

this life,

this love;

so that I could find justice,

so that I could create and share

some peace.

This yoga

is not life. This mat

is not the world. It is practice. I’m here

to learn how

to touch my feet to the earth,

how to make my breath

a divine wind. So I channel some anubhava

and recall levitating saint

Nagendra Nath Bhaduri, who said,

“Do not mistake the technique for the goal,”

which is just another way of saying

to remember to love God

more than the meditation.

So now I can feel it—

in the relaxing of taut muscles,

in the space in my ribs,

in the openness of my heart chakra:

I want to live a life

driven by what will be read

in my eulogy,

not my resume.

“I lit a fire

with the love you left behind,”

Grace Potter sings,

and I’m not sure she knew

it was about Mamaw and Patrick and Swede

when she wrote it,

but I know it now—

that I’m not here

to run into the fire.

I am the fire.

So I chant

om shanti shanti om

to a horizon without bounds.

I salute the sun.

I bow to the moon.

I plant my seed

and a garden of souls blooms.

And then my baby cries,

so I go to her,

to make again

my world anew.

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