Things coming around full circle.
I am in the middle of writing a series of essays about “firsts” in my life, about different life experiences that shape the way I think about the world. Yesterday morning, perhaps not entirely for the first time, I achieved donut pose. This is the first time I have called it that, however, so we will count it among the firsts.
I wrote it down in all caps in my notebook, while I was actually trying to meditate. The birds were making an awful ruckus in the yard this morning. We are in the season when they are fighting each other for mates and looking for spots to nest and causing a general racket. Meanwhile, I was trying to listen to my breath, but my heart was racing and my eyes were tearing up because the instructor from the writing class I am taking online, who was leading the short meditation I was attempting, just read Haruki Murakami to us.
In the middle of her reading I ran to grab his memoir from the shelf in the living room and check to see if what she was reading was from there. She was, and I underlined the passage that she mentioned. Haruki Murakami shares the story in his memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, about when he decided to write a novel. In this specific essay, he talks about heading to the Kinokuniya bookstore outside of Shinjuku station in Tokyo to buy a sheaf of manuscript paper and a $5 Sailor fountain pen. When I heard this my chest nearly burst open.
I bought my first nice writing pens and notebooks from the Kinokuniya in New York City, when it was still located right off of Rockefeller Plaza a few blocks away from my office. I have admired Murakami for years, and I have never read this about him, despite having his memoir on my shelf for some time. Meanwhile the online course I am taking is being taught by another writer I have admired for years, who encourages a daily writing practice, which inspired me to pick up a cheap and reliable fountain pen after reading her first book. After reading to us, she directed us to sit in meditation and focus on our breath, and thinking about Kinokuniya and fountain pens while trying to chill out and just breath made me think about my first yoga classes in New York City more than 15 years ago.
And this is where the donut pose came in. First of all, this is a mind-bending post, not a physical one, though a Google images search of this phrase will provide you will plenty of images of yogis showing off impressive back bends that could make this a literal thing. What I am defining instead is one of those moments when multiple things come full circle and meet you where you are. I was sitting on my porch in San Diego, seated against a cushion on one of my patio chairs that has followed us across the country now for the last three moves. It is a little sand-blasted from its time in the dessert winds, and I recently threw a World Market pillow on it to class it up for a seating area outside our new bedroom. I was focusing on my breath and trying to keep my jaw slack, which took me back to my first Shavasanas during yoga on the Upper East Side in New York. I was reflecting on what was just read to me by an author and teacher I admire who I first learned about on a trip to the Bay Area four years ago. She was reading about an author that I have been reading for almost twenty years, about a store I remember walking into as a young writer. It all came together, full circle, in a sweet surprise.
So the sweetness is in the familiarity with my own story and the comfort in knowing that my winding path is coming around to meet me again, and there have been no dead ends, only bends and turns to point me in the right direction. What came to me is that the firsts all come back around, they loop back on themselves, and as many times as we can read about this happening to others, it can’t be really appreciated until it happens personally.
There could have been plenty of chances to read this passage another time and make the connection years ago, but it happened yesterday on the porch, honestly right when it needed to, when the breath and the focus and the searching for a bigger message needed to come through. And that sweetness is about as rewarding as a donut is ever going to get.