Today’s Day Five of my 30-day yoga challenge. I realized today that 30 days is a long time! Relatively speaking, of course. I’m still completely committed to doing this, I’m just coming to grips with exactly what I’ve committed to.
So far, it’s still great. I’m a little sore, but I still look forward to being on that mat every day and I’m grateful to have the time and space in my life to do this for 30 days straight. Just, uhhh, 25 more days to go! I’m not sure I’ve ever even done yoga for seven days in a row, so there will be lots of little milestones along the way here.
An interesting thing happened to me yesterday evening after I left my Gentle Flow class.
I was sitting upstairs at the Whole Foods in Union Square eating Indian Food and checking twitter on my blackberry. An older man who’d been sitting across from me a few seats down the table, who I’d happened to notice a couple times throughout my meal because he’d made a few business phone calls that I could overhear, said to me completely out of the blue, “How’s your writing?”
I laughed, almost out of surprise I guess, and then I said, “What?”
He said, “How’s your writing?”
“Why are you asking me that?” Instantly, I assumed he was trying to sell me something, or get me to do something for him. But I was also surprised to find myself intrigued. A lot of weirdo people ask you a lot of weirdo questions in New York City. It’s standard practice to ignore or diffuse immediately. But I sort of wanted this conversation to continue.
He said, “I can tell you’re a writer.”
“Why do you think that?” I asked. I guess I looked a little casual, my hair was pulled back in a loose pony tail and I was wearing a plain brown sweater, no jewelry, no make-up.
“I can just tell. It isn’t hard to tell. You’re creative. You have a creative energy about you. Someone who is, for example, in finance, has a different energy. Creative people are confident, at ease, peaceful. You seem to be open to the world around you. Someone who might work in a different sort of industry like finance or something, there’s a lot of pretense there, they sometimes seem like they’re trying to tell the world something. But artists aren’t like that. They’re open. Taking it all in.”
And so our conversation had begun.
It was hard for me to let go of the idea that he was trying to trick me. At one point, while immersed in our chat, I caught myself and reached back to check my bag which was hanging on my chair. Maybe this was all a distraction while his partner rifled through my stuff. Another long-since honed knee-jerk reaction for which I have the Big City to thank.
Nope. The bag was intact.
“That’s true about artists. I guess you’re right about that,” I told him cautiously. I was surprised by his insight. I knew what he was saying wasn’t rocket science, but I was moved that he felt compelled to share his thoughts with me.
“So are you a writer?”
“No,” I answered after thinking for a moment, knowing I was telling a bit of a lie.
“Well, then, what do you do?”
I was surprised again when, “I….I’m…well, I’m an actor, I guess. I perform comedy,” flew out of my mouth. “And I’ve opened…I have…I own a bakery,” I added, wondering how this all might be figuring together in his mind and noticing how still unfamiliar it was to hear myself say something other than, “I work at a law firm.”
“So you’re a performance artist?” he said. “Sure, I can see that. I knew you were creative. You can just tell. Where is your bakery?”
“We don’t have a storefront yet. We’re online and we have wholesale accounts,”
“Ohh, online, that’s excellent. You could make a killing doing that.”
“I hope so.”
And then he told me the story of Famous Amos, you know, from Famous Amos cookies. He said that Famous Amos didn’t even have an oven when he started out. He used his aunt’s oven. And he’d bake cookies for people in the neighborhood, in Harlem. One day he noticed that people asked him for his cookies before they even said hello to him. So he started charging people for them. Next thing anybody knew, his cookies were in Bloomingdales and on supermarket shelves.
“Plus, you live in New York City,” he said. “There are millions of people willing to spend money here.”
Again, “I hope so.”
“So you have something you love to do, something that brings you joy, and you also support yourself by being the captain of your own ship. There’s nothing better than that.”
“You’re right,” I said, nodding. “I’ve never been happier in my adult life.”
“You can succeed if you love it and you want it. You will be very successful.”
“I hope so.”
“The thing about artists is that we, the rest of the world, needs you. We go to see musicals, plays, concerts, because we have to get out of our daily routines, break out of our lives for a moment and escape. And you all provide us with that. If somebody spent an entire year never doing that stuff, never seeing music or art or experiencing the creative arts, they’d go nuts. You have to experience that raw joy.”
I just nodded and smiled and nodded. “Yes, absolutely. Yes. I guess you’re right.”
Sometimes, in a city full of so many artists, actors, musicians, writers, sculptors, painters, t-shirt screeners, mimes, clowns, singers, dancers, graffiti artists, and stand-up comedians, it’s easy to forget that there’s an entire population of people who don’t do that stuff for a living, or who don’t even do it on the side for fun.
“So you’re not a writer?”
“Well, I do write. I guess I do, yes. I don’t do it for a living. I probably will someday. I…I think I -”
“You’re probably very good at it,” he interrupted. I’d stammered through half of our conversation, something that rarely happens to me, so I’m not sure why he assumed so.
“I hope so… What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Ian,” he said. And we shook hands and I said my name.
“You take good care of yourself, too,” he said. “I can tell. You drink a lot of water. I can tell.”
“I just started a 30-day yoga challenge. Maybe that has something to do with it.”
Laughing, he said, “Maybe.”
And then it was time for me to leave. I had to get to my comedy show. I told him goodbye and that it was nice to meet him, that I hoped he had a nice evening. He told me to do the same.
I did not stop grinning for ten minutes.
Sometimes life gives you little signs and sometimes it gives you great big ones. Don’t be afraid to notice them. It doesn’t matter why they’ve occurred – divine intervention or just dumb coincidence. You’ll never know why. So it’s up to you if you choose believe they have meaning. It’s up to you to decide that they’re telling you you’re on the right path, and that they are meant to light the way in front of you.