I intuit that there will be a sub and sure enough, Kelly who I haven’t taken class with before is there. She starts with a story of how animals shake things off when frightened or upset and how she needed to do this last night after a fight with her boyfriend. How she shook (she demonstrates as she shakes her hands and body about) and then did some breathwork before finally finding rest.
The class is neither good nor bad it just is. I struggle not because of her sequencing, music or prompts but because I just am today. At the end I slip into savasana a few minutes before the rest of the class. And I relax in. Moments later her footsteps can be heard milling about. They just are. Neither silent nor robust. Medium footed she is. My mind flows to “Our Teacher” and how he sometimes startles me with his heavy footsteps during savasana. Like he is oblivious to the fact that he is being loud and noisy startling me, and maybe others. His sense of belonging in this world a given.
Footsteps it seems have significance. I remember how Aimee in Guetamala told us her story:
I climbed snowy Volcano Pucon in Chile. It’s a popular hike for travellers, but occasionally people have slid right off that mountain. Helmets fastened and crampons buckled, the guides demonstrated what to do if we slipped on the ice: assume a face-down position and plant our ice-axe perpendicular. No more than ten minutes into trekking, the guide stopped everyone and pointed at me, demanding that I join him at the front of the group so he could keep a closer watch.
“You step too softly,” he said. “If anybody’s going to drop off this mountain, it’s you. Step like you mean it.”
Being told I’d be the first person to slide away, never to be seen again, into a white abyss because I failed to embody my footsteps made me reappraise the value of treading lightly. Who was I to walk as a faint shadow of myself?
Who was I to apologize to a world that brought me into it? Who was I to betray my existence by not letting the earth feel me?
Maybe this stepping lightly thing was not a harmless habit. My footsteps needed to feel me.
My mind travels back even further to 1983 when I first got married and how we were visiting my childhood home. My brothers, sister and I were all in the kitchen except Bill who was stomping about and then tripped over our white poodle who had blended in at the top of the white shag, carpeted stairs. We heard the loud noises of Bill tumbling down with such noisy bellowing as his body carelessly thundered down each carefully laid step. We would laugh about it years later how much noise he had made. Now it seems, with little regard if he was hurt or not. Just the audacity of him being heard in such a noisy dramatic way. Like he has been taught that he has rights to this place without even giving it a thought.
Maybe our steps should be balanced somehow like the teacher's today.
Walk like you mean it but let your steps reflect who you are.
And she finishes with the words of the Buddha that when you are angry it is like drinking poison and hoping the other one dies. This seems to come to her as she again mentions the fight that she had last night.
Maybe it is best to be like Buddha and find the Middle Way. With both anger and with footsteps. Neither too much or too little. Maybe I will lean into this culminating full moon just right, with steps fitting for me and my footsteps.