Being present is no joke, it's harder than you think, unless you are some sort of yogi/guru type and I'm sure even they have days when they wonder anxiously if they have left the coffee pot on and their house is burning down or if someone on their flight next month will have Ebola. This whole week I have been making a major effort to focus on whatever I am doing, attempting to be in "the now." But as we draw nearer to my predicted fertile time I am finding myself wrapped in fear and excitement in alternating waves.
My mother read my entry last week about my fears of having a baby and she reminded me of how scared I was to fly as kid. I distinctly remember her saying, "I hate flying, too, but if you don't fly, you can't go anywhere." I can't even imagine who I would be today if I had let my fear of flying keep me from exploring the world. I have a reputation in my family as being a bit of a gypsy. There was a time in my life when friends and family would ask my parents, "Where is she living now? What kind of trouble is she getting in?" If I had let my fear of flying hold me back, I would never have had all my crazy travel adventures, near-death experiences or met some of the most wonderful people on the planet. But fear is a powerful force and I can feel it clawing at my guts as the reality of potentially making a baby draws closer and closer.
My yoga theme this week was focusing on calming the whirlpool of thoughts that flood my mind. My instructor threw around a bunch of yoga words, but what I got out of it was that focusing on the past brings depression, and focusing on the future and the "what ifs" brings on anxiety, making the thoughts swirl around my head and filling me with fear and panic. She wants me to step back and recognize that my mind is not my true self, that those out-of-control, spinning thoughts will come but I can step back and watch them and recognize that they are just thoughts, and see them from a distance.
She used an analogy of walking an elephant through a marketplace. Being a giant elephant, he'd trash the place with his big elephant self, flapping around his ears and looking at everything, sticking his nose in precious vases or whatever, but if you give him a stick to hold in his trunk, he will focus on carrying the stick, and he'll just stroll on through, without smashing everything to bits. She said that my stick is the breath, the balance poses, the quieting of the mind through meditation, noticing my thoughts but letting them float away.
I'm skeptical, but at the same time I see the value. My fears are real: I had a miscarriage that was long and drawn out and devastating. I'm over 35; my egg quality may not be good enough to make a baby. I may miscarry again. I cannot change the past. I can't go back to my 29-year-old self and stop her from taking the morning-after pill because maybe that was my only young good egg. I can't make my 33-year-old self go off birth control and try to get knocked up by some guy that I kinda liked on our first date—how was I supposed to know I would end up marrying him?
For now, all I can do, while I walk the elephant through the marketplace, is give him whatever stick I think might work and if he destroys all of the beautiful things anyway, well, at least I know there will be more beautiful things. We really are ready to try again; there may be unforeseen obstacles and I'm scared, but if there is one thing I have learned in my crazy, adventurous life is there's always something lovely down the road—even if that road is bumpy, full of armed bandits and I threw up on the way, the destination was still worth the journey.