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presence in instability
Photography by helen dixon

presence in instability

by connie a. lopez-hood
Self Development

I’ve changed jobs like I’ve changed suits. Or rather, I’ve changed jobs like I’ve changed underwear since I change that daily and I’ve only owned two suits in my life, one of which I never wore and returned when I realized I didn’t really want to be a Real Estate agent.

In my life, I’ve been a day laborer, a safety dispatcher, a secretary, a Legal Secretary, a Legal Administrator, a receptionist, a child care provider, etc and etc.  I have tried to work retail, accounting, food service and loathed those options miserably.  If the only constant is change, then I am by far the steadiest person I know.

Recently, I’ve experienced a deep shift in settling for the status quo. Yes, I have bills, probably more than most people I speak to in any given day. And yes, I need to make money to pay those bills, pay the booming debt of poor material decision, higher education and home ownership. The bills and debt all point precisely to the same thing: I am not ok with the status quo. If getting the day job pays the bills and settles debts, then why I am still drowning in it?

The answer lies for me in both the constant job change and running back to school. These reflect the ill-ease sitting deep inside: If I am not connecting mind and body to Spirit in all that I do, then running towards material goods, drowning in debt, and changing my job is inevitable. 

The search for the answer was difficult to find.  It has taken thirty years for me to get real with ME, to realize that certain passions and degrees I chased or wanted to chase have been for appearances sake, for the potential success or fame or attention it could bring, or because other people would think it was a good idea. This is not to say that success or fame are intrinsically bad, but seeking it out solely for attention is a recipe for disaster and a tormented soul. And if an artist knows one thing very well, it’s the feeling of a tormented soul. 

I finally awoke when I started recognizing that I needed Spirit present in my life. I had no idea what this meant, I just knew the feeling that I desired—that I was just a part of a big Whole, and that the Whole needed me and my part, rapt and present. The first connections came through Yoga. The attention to connect breath to body required me to fully engage awareness and presence in any single asana.  While most inversions are a physical struggle for me, Tadasana is perhaps themost unsettling (and therefore, teachable) pose, where I become a hill feigning mountain.  In this pose, I fight the itch to move my limbs and the sway to move my torso.  I fight the head tremor that has plagued me since I was 15 years old, which leaves my head and neck quivering like a brittle leaf.  All my fears come to engage, the tightness in the knee, the desire to suck my stomach in, the yearn to appear so so strong. Like a mountain.

I am not a mountain, though. I am a woman with a world in her head. I am greater than the mountain and smaller still. I am both the quivering leaf and the steadiness of the mountain—my feet are planted here, still, are they not? Why then do I fight what I am?

So, I’ve stopped fighting. I quiver. I sway. Or I be still. I tell my body no and let the breath carry me past the body into the now-moment. Remarkably, it ends up translating into other areas of my life. I meditate. I eat. I read to understand. I write because I don’t know how not to. I exercise. I cry. I make lists. I scrap them and I write new lists. Sometimes I write the same list over and over without meaning to.  And in shutting up, getting quiet and still, and being, existing in this now-moment, I learned a profound truth.

I am here now. I am, with Spirit and as Spirit, am here now.

The setting may change, the job may change, the house or financials or material goods may change, but: I am here now. I am, with Spirit and as Spirit, am here now.

The only constant is change and, of course, I am job-prowling again. But the search feels different these days, less materialistically driven and more bound by an honest impulse to share and help and give. It is only a matter of time when the two will align, and Spirit will be with me. And in this now-moment, there are times when I am a damn strong hill, or times when I am a fine, solid mountain. And still even there are times I just need to be a quivering leaf. And that is absolutely ok.