My forever will be my step-daughter is telling me about the path she has taken to arrive at psychology as a major.
One of her classes is in social media and the masks people wear. She tells a specific story of a woman in circle who admitted to severe depression. The professor pulls up her Facebook page and they analyzes her content. She’s a yoga teacher and everything she posts is only positive, pictures are only smiling, and nothing would indicate she was sad in anyway.
This peeks my interest. What did the professor tell her was the answer?
Kenna tells me the answer is coming back to real feelings. The answer is telling the truth. The answer is admitting to her emotional state so that it doesn’t have power over her anymore and being open to others so they have the opportunity to be supportive.
”You know,” Kenna says, “Take the mask off.”
I stop painting and look at her. A memory of her at nine flashes through my mind, she’s walking with Ken ahead of me in Tahoma. They are holding hands. I smile big. “Nineteen, huh? How’d you get so wise?”
She laughs, “A lot of practice in crazy.”
We both laugh and begin to discuss effects of Facebook and self-creation. We talk about my recently reactivated page after a three year hiatus.
People told me when I left, I’d fail and my careeer would nose dive. Instead, I listened and found my way back to my heart with no thoughts about the approval or permission of others and found my way through the jungle to the sea where WiFi didn’t reach.
I found peace, surrender, trust, devotion and observed as people increasingly experienced separation though “connected” to hundereds. I watched as more people opened their life the more anxious they were about whether people liked them and wondered increasingly if people really knew them and if they did, would they love them?
And then I turned my page back on and all those feelings rose for me. Given my absence I thought I would share what it’s like to plug back in.
As I plug back in I see people I love. They are married now, some have kids.
Hey! How come we don’t talk? I write them, no way,! look at how life has changed! Text me pictures, I send my phone number. I wanna be close to you again but I don’t think I’m keeping this page😂
We laugh. Zonia just stay on it.
I don’t know it’s weird😂
It’s an actual place! I feel like I’m literally going there. I leave here and enter there. I see gatherings and so many people together. I see friends, lots of friends in person. They look really happy.
I see videos of people that I know talking on screens about the things they believe in. I see video sharing is common. I see my students now teachers doing yoga videos and I wonder why I didn’t want to do that. It’s fun to see Deanna’s body fly.
I think about being the teacher and having her extend the last few seconds of breath before knowing the next pose pause. And then she moves and I see the beautiful angles of her leg I see an engaged Uddoyana twist, balanced sacrum. It’s beautiful.
I don’t say anything but I miss teaching in my community. I travel, I start yoga foundational breath awareness movement, and then I wait to see if when I return change has happened.
I watch a long time. People move houses, they get married, kids graduate high school. Moments pass in more radical clips. Change.
As I reactivate I gaze through pictures I have no where else. I remember all the ones I never posted because I didn’t have a page. They existed only on my phone and those washed away in the toilet the day I dropped my phone in. In the moment it was liberation. Nothing to refer to.
Only memories. They are fleeting.
Now on my page, I open memories. I wonder what happened to Karen. I see ex partners. I see albums that are shortened after the first round of deleting pictures post breakup. I see ones that are part of continuations. I don’t delete them, life has changed.
I wonder about people I’ve met over the years if they find me on here, what story will my pictures tell that my voice did not.
I think of these blogs. I write just to write, without social media, writing is for me. I think maybe I’ll share. I do. Then I have several days of wondering what I wrote. How it will be received? Oh no?! What did I say, then I remember everything I write is for me. To witness. To understand where I’m comfortable by from. To give rise to feeling and heal.
I remember all my feelings of isolation, decide my words have been true to me, and decide to allow myself to be seen.
Not just in pictures pages or words but in life.
I think of all the things I never say. All the smiles. I ask if they are real. They are. I ask if I’ve been wearing a mask of self imposed seclusion. I wonder if I have mourned choices and decisions. I wonder if I’ve let go of too many things. I wonder about the people whose lives mine touchs for just seconds. I ask what I’m traveling for. I ask where is my home.
I look at pictures of families. They are mine, but also no longer, just forever loved. I see my own story unfold in pictures, in words, in reels my own mind sees and I wonder if I know my own heart enough to trust what I’ve seen, chosen and done.
I think of choices.
I see my story unfolding.
I see two friends of 20 years who love yoga and have lived together for short periods of time but who only time to time get to sit side by side from across the globe.
I see two travelers partners children. I see ceremony, prayer and family.
I see when I choose my brothers family as my own. I see my parents aging. I see my grandparents gone.
I see me in yoga poses. I laugh, I remember why I quit social media.
We were trying to start a school to teach spirituality, connection, and practice. All anyone wants are photographs.
They don’t match what I believe to be true of me.
What does the photo tell?
Insecurity. Clothes ok? Posture good? My belly shows. Am I getting old. Do I practice what I teach? Am I delusional? Do the things I do make a difference. I think I’m doing “something”, what was it? Am I self-creating or self pretending? It seems that I’m alone a lot but also always with people. In love but gone. Loved but gone. Loving but extended over a large space for periods of time in and out of different lives all of them real and true for me and to me.
Next thing I know, I’m totally self-absorbed. Like in this moment, when I am remembering photographs all through the stories and insecurity that accompanies online presence I am absorbed in image and perception.
I turn off off the phone and stare at the ceiling. “Zonia,” I tell me, “you are self absorbed right now. It’s ok put the phone down. Everything is ok.”
Alone in this room. Ceiling breath thoughts go crickets come night falls. Thinking, sighing, breathing. All these pictures from the past, all these feelings are coming up. How good is this for me?
Loss, stories, and choices.
A little roadmap to where you are now.
Reflection. Asking myself:
If you had understood in those moments what life you were living, what would you have held onto?
Does it matter? They are all gone and I’m starting again.
Its almost the season I go back to Mexico and I don’t remember ever getting back. Not sure I did. One minute I was in Mexico staring at the ocean waves, then running through petroglyphs and climbing to hot springs, the next laughing in my Coloradoan friends backyard, then Venetia is putting blue mascara on me and my best friend from seven years old is walking me around the highly muraled downtown district.
Then, I’m in Utah and I’m blazing back to convergence where I literally collide into my yoga friend of 20 years and two and a half months go by side by side. We are. We are in Maui when I finally look over and say this makes sense to me next to Paula with Lou Gerriggs in Kula and then stuffing his dad in the back seat in Makawao. Ken and Georgia are getting married, he’s with me.
We are teaching yoga in San Diego. Then we aren’t.
Suddenly, I’m in Tahoe and back naked at the river. Everything has changed.
I can see love stories folding and unfolding. Friendships beginning and ending.
And time it’s going by. I want to gather together with people. I want to be all in one place, all these people I know. I want us all to talk story. I want to heal disconnection by being the photos into moving screens with laughter and to touch foreheads, say hello.
I want to cry and laugh with friends. Have a fire, sip cocoa, drink some wine. Suddenly they are filing through the house for a month. Theres so much back story, you can only start from here with what you know.
That life is fleeting. That people age time moves on and love is eternal. Not because it’s on the screen but because the stories of how it got that way are so deep and meaningful to your existence. That pictures dont capture everything. No details. No voices. None of the fears or insecurities blocking you from living in the life you were in without trading it in for other ones that didn’t last. That even those ones are a part of your memories and the many lives you’ve lived. That you are grateful. That overall you like you and damn you know what’s gone and won’t come back but let’s hold hands. Be friends. Have sleep overs. Look each other in the eye. Toss the phones for a sec. Come back to really in each other’s physical presence.
Like Kenna and I on the porch. She’s reading a book. I’m painting.
I think about closing again. Delete, deactivate. Then I see my nephew in namaste. It makes you happy. Ok. They are right there. It’s not far away as Oregon or quiet as spaces between visits seem.
When you can’t look anymore put that phone down.
Picking up from today. Write a poem. Call a friend. Make some tea. Paint a painting I may cover over tomorrow. Give them as gifts. Invite people into my home. Trade sessions. Sit together. Remember we are going to be ok. Take one day as it comes. Fall in love one memory at a time.
Dont rush it. There’s only today. We can’t record everything. Some moments are better than others. Some you’ll never see again but they are part of your memories. A ghost whisper from the past of farms cedar cabins and goat milk cheese. Others hillside gardens and yoga decks at sunset. Some hiking in the Himalayas living in surf vans teaching yoga. And some praying directions, sewing gifts and building fires.
All of them are me, but more so the many things I haven’t recorded or written. The posts I’ll never make. The feelings I can’t convey in any way other than embrace. And the moments alone quiet contemplation writing just for me because I must...those pass too into trail runs on meadows in Tahoe sun and paddle boards no phone no witness except for the one living inside me.
What will we we think about today? Do to fill the time? Who will we meet? Only one way to figure it out, gotta live it, putting the phone down.