Process vs product is a conversation that has been pulverized in the cuisinart of pop yoga culture and beyond. Powerful in application, the action of function for function’s sake offers the makings of a paradigm shift in Western behavior. We are, however, a product dominant society. I don’t deem that entirely negative. I do think though, that there are beneficial points along a given path at which to shift a penetrating gaze away from the proverbial prize and look down (or in) to the feel of the path beneath our feet, and likewise, points that we would need to look back at the prize in order not to lose it.
I bought a co-op in 2003 in Park Slope Brooklyn. I saw it advertised on craigslist. I called the agent, she showed it to me, I was the first viewer of the apartment. My husband was at work and I had never made an offer on a property but I felt in my gut that this was our home. I went out on a limb and said a number. The owner accepted the offer, there were no irregularities along the way, the closing ensued. I delighted in the flow of the transaction every step of the way, learning, feeling powerful and learning more. The outcome, i.e., the acquisition of the apartment, almost, (not quite, but almost) felt secondary, like a byproduct of the journey leading there. This transaction shone brightly upon the gift that was my life.
Another iconic idea of “yogic” behavior, (I safe quote yogic because I am sure that this adjective is only definable through the acceleration of it’s use in the past 15 years) is to view everything in life as a gift. Truly, if one starts with the premise that the alternative of having been born is less preferable than having been born, everything IS a gift. When challenge gets involved, our ability to embrace the giftness of life recedes, and rightfully so–thank goodness our survival mechanism prevents us from running head-on towards the obstacles in our path. Chanting a gift mantra during strife? It is noble, but it hasn’t worked for me. Requires more faith than I have. It’s mostly in retrospect that we get to widen our lense of life and see how the pieces filled in, and apply the perspective that things made sense the way they played out in order for us to be where we are.
Many things happened in the following years after our first property purchase cited above–having kids, and my mom getting very sick were the most formative of those things. Kids felt like a gift, mom getting sick in no way shape or form felt like gift. For these formative things, in 2011 we sought out a new home in Maplewood NJ where many predecessors from the city and Bklyn were moving. We found a lovely, perfect home. We put in an offer, a cash offer, but a contingency cash offer which was dependent on the closing of our Bklyn coop. A contingency offer is the most precarious kind of offer. In order to make our contingency offer sexier to our sellers in Maplewood, we offered them as much time as they needed to close. They told us they would need several months. Understandably, they continued to hold open houses. I bit my nails down. Back in Bklyn, we received a fine offer on our apartment. We accepted the offer. The offeror was 9 months pregnant and needed the apartment yesterday. We agreed to move as fast as we could to help her get settled for her new baby in her new home. Between the moving out and the moving in, we had 3 separate sublets during NY Summer months, two were NY-sized (wheeensy) and all housed my husband, my kids and my sick mom. We did eventually move in to our new Maplewood home, but in the months prior, (the many, many, many, many moments of months), I hyperventilated, cursed, and fought with my family. I wanted no such thing of feeling this process any more than I already was. My vision of our destination was where it was at!
The authentic application of immersing in process begs that we keep in mind how unpleasant process can be. Ugh. Our desire to move with great alacrity towards destination when things are uncomfortable is because we have an intelligent survival mechanism. It’s also because we are resilient beings, for the most part. We know in our fabric if we can get out of the mire, we will be ok.
In recalling the Summer of ’11, I have gratitude for what we gained. I am reaping and will continue to reap the fruits of the two endpoints of selling a home and purchasing a home. As well, I recall numerous memories along the way that were embraceable, despite the struggle and discomfort. I recall my mother being able to walk during that Summer and that we all went to the beach together for the last time.
Returning in our minds from individual trips along the way, each sporting its own illusory conclusion, over and over again, it is likely that each of us at some point will feel the essence of a more encompassing journey. Where does process end and product start? In yoga asana practice, I do my best to encourage folks while they struggle with bakasana, a tricky arm balance, that they may as well full-on feel the placement of weight in the palms, knuckles and finger pads, realize the seconds through which a shift of weight occurs, and fall forward with a pillow in order to learn where the point of balance is, because there is always a more advanced variation right beyond this acquisition. It really could go on indefinitely.
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