Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.

Thomas Merton


Thomas Merton, who also wrote the book of essays entitled No Man Is An Island, wrote with such clarity and certitude it is hard to argue with the above statement or the one in the title of his short stories.  I have often had a problem trying to defy both of his certainties in my life–living life in intensity rather than balance and in solitary defiance rather than union with all.  I have gotten better as I age, and learn, and read more of the wisdom of people like Merton, but somehow the roots of my old patterns seem to rear their ugly heads just when I think I am dissolving them.  Like in HEADSTANDS. 

Headstands are the symbolic and literal depiction of balance.  If you are out of balance you may be able to hide it in a shoulder stand or even a tree pose but somehow the headstand always knows.  And I am a flunkie of the headstand barometer of balance.  I fall, I flop, I roll out, and crumple up.  Fear, indecision, uncertainty, and lack of personal balance all come falling onto the floor with me and leave me feeling bare.  I am brutally aware of my faltering points in headstand, or rather not-in-headstand, in a way that somehow I can ignore in the world off the mat. 

But the headstand knows–and it towers over me in mockery of what I cannot yet do.  Let go enough to just give over to the unknown.  Find centeredness at my inner core unshakable even when the world topples on its head and flips upside down.  But I am working on it and I breathe and release and try again, lifting off the mat for a moment before crumbling down again. 

I may be floppy and fumbling and anything but graceful but I persist.  And one day, hopefully sooner than later, I will lift off with confidence and equilibrium–proving that even when the world flips 180 degrees I can stand firmly on my head and face it.