triathlon duhkha

Most yoga classes end with a resting pose called savasana. After a few minutes, the teacher breaks the silence gently, asking participants to gently wiggle their fingers and toes, essentially coming “back to life” through movement.

My transition back from a weekend with family in Vancouver this week felt more like someone yanked me upright by pulling my arm out of its socket, yelling “WORK! TRAIN! BE PRODUCTIVE! FIX YOUR PROBLEMS! BE HAPPY!”

Moksha Yoga Burnaby

Moksha Yoga Burnaby, the adorable studio where Matt works.

Lighthouse Park Vancouver

Hiking in Lighthouse Park.

I always feel at home in Vancouver, even though I lived there only briefly in what feels like a past life. It’s so different than North County San Diego. Darker and colder and whispering its beauty rather than broadcasting it — and I love it, that Pacific Northwest sadness and big-city grit.

We talked, ate, hiked and practiced yoga at the studio where my brother teaches and plays live music. I ran a few times, soaking in the dense, mossy air. Happy hour with a dear friend and Easter dinner with my cousins filled in the leftover minutes, both with darling babies I hadn’t yet met in tow.

Stanley Park seawall

My family strolling the seawall in Stanley Park while I got lost.

Vancouver seawall

Vancouver’s seawall, site of a disaster race-esque chest-pain inducing run.

It was one of those post-race recovery weeks where my inner dialogue goes from telling myself I need the rest to fending off guilt. My one attempt at swimming while I was away was thwarted by an Easter Sunday family swim and I had a disaster run (chest pain wise) in Stanley Park.

Of course life is not all “bunnies and unicorns,” as my yoga teacher training leader likes to say. In a subculture that’s often too touchy-feely-perfect, it’s shorthand for the fact that life is full of duhkha, or suffering, or — my favorite way to look at it  — “stuckness.”

JJ Bean Commercial Drive

At the cafe where I used to work, JJ Bean.

Long-time friends.

My general attitude right now is decidedly lacking in bunnies and unicorns. The momentum and motivation I had leading up to Oceanside have abated. I finally got on my bike yesterday for my first ride since racing, needing to shake off the travel blahs, and today was a day for dragging myself out of bed, for routines and grocery shopping and moving molasses-like back to the pool. For tying up my shoes and plodding over familiar trails, of going through the motions hoping sparks will fly again.

I guess the nugget here is that these phases of life, if nothing else, help to restore my gratitude for the sweet times — the times I don’t even think about because they just work. 

Family walk.

Tomorrow I head back to my esophageal doctor for a follow up on the medication I took leading up to Oceanside, and that had no effect. I’ve had worse “daily life” symptoms, which concerns me. It’s starting to interfere with going out for beers with friends or eating a regular meal. I came home from Vancouver with a renewed commitment to figuring it out or at least finding a way to control the symptoms, but also with a sinking feeling that if I can’t, things might need to change.

So that’s the unpretty side of life right now. And it’s OK. It just is. I’ll probably feel different in a day or two.

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