by cindy

“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason

Bringing something we must learn.

And we are led to those who help us most to grow,

If we let them. And we help them in return.

Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true but I know I’m who I am today

Because I knew you.”*

In April, 1999, on a whim, pure and simple, I stepped into a small, dark yoga studio with the intention of seeing what “all this yoga-stuff was about”. I had been on a search—of what, for what, I couldn’t have said. I know locating a sense of physical well-being was part of my mission. The local gym was not working for me. I was in transition in relationships as friends kept moving out of the area. I was sensing a shift in my artistic path but it hadn’t yet registered where I needed to explore. I was frustrated with the direction—or lack of direction—my life was taking. I needed something. And, oh, what the heck. The first class was free. I had nothing to lose.

The instructor was this little-bitty young woman, a good many years younger than I. And while I might ordinarily have yielded to my personal demons, those nasty harpies that continually chided me on my physical issues or personality flaws, there was something so completely non-judgemental about her sparkling dark eyes and her bright, easy smile that I fought the urge to flee before class began.

I stayed.

My life has never been the same.

It was my great good fortune to choose that day, that place, and that time, to investigate yoga. It was my very great good fortune that Tana stood on the other side of that door. Through her guidance and with her friendship, I have learned too much to adequately share. These last dozen years have taken both of us on unexpected paths, some with rather unwelcome destinations, but Tana consistently has shown me that the journey is just that: a journey. She has shown me that life’s journey, like any other, will twist and turn, dance between sunlight and shadow, and may well arrive someplace glorious, someplace we least expect…as long as we remain open to possibilities.

She demonstrates daily how to live with an open heart, with patience and good intentions, with unbelievable strength and unimaginable grace even when the road becomes fraught with disaster. She demonstrates ahimsa and through her teaching I have learned to be kinder, more loving, to myself as well as others. Those little demons, the harpies, have a tougher time making an appearance on my shoulders or in the back of my brain. And they are not missed. Oh, and she taught me yoga postures too: trikona asana (my favorite!), chaturanga dandasana (Ugh! Oops. No judgement, now!), shavasana (my REAL favorite!).

However, it is now time for change. Our journeys are moving away from each other. The yoga studio has lost its lease and will be closing tomorrow. Tana, who has commuted between two homes for years, will be making her permanent residence in another state. I must say good-bye soon and good-bye is a very difficult word for me. It is a word that has so many emotions quivering just below the surface. Good-bye is also I will miss you and be well and I love you and safe journeys and remember me, please and thank you. Thank you for everything.

I am immensely grateful that our paths have connected for these many years. I have learned much. I have been taught well. I cannot selfishly wish for our paths to continue side-by-side because I know somewhere there’s another student waiting on the other side of a door, ready for something new. Ready for something life-changing. Ready for Tana.

I wish them the best.

And, yes, Tana, I will miss you. Namaste.

“It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime

So let me say before we part

So much of me is made from what I learned from you.

You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart.

And now whatever way our stories end I know you have rewritten mine

By being my friend.”*

*Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, “For Good”, from the musical Wicked