I know…bad language. Trust me the language was appropriate to the situation! But to be fair to the word itself it does date back to the 16th century and may even go back to early Latin. An ancient if scorned word. But certainly strong in nature. And certainly apt to my feeling at that moment.
I was standing next to my car on the side of Highway 20. I had a flat tire. It was a epically cold day for early December. At least that’s what CAA had just told me. If I wanted their service I was going to have to wait for up to 3 hours. I was only one exit away from home so I decided to drive along a quiet route and just go home. I’d take care of the tire tomorrow. And my destination…a yoga class at the West Island YMCA…was going to have to wait.
My first yoga class had been just months after I had retired: September 2010. There was an introductory course offered at the Lachine community centre, so I had signed up for that. I really didn’t know what to expect but it was mostly sitting and breathing and after that, lying down and breathing. I was getting restless: I like to move. Halfway thru the semester she began to introduce some asana but then her sister died. I felt a lot of sympathy for her but then we were back to sitting and breathing and after that, lying down and breathing. In late November I completed the course with the feeling that yoga must be more than that.
I decided to check out the YMCA. I was meeting my cousin on the West Island so while I was there I went to the Y and got a membership, an inclusive one which gave me access to all Y’s in Montreal. I picked up their schedule and chose a class to start with: beginners again.
So that’s how I ended up at the side of the highway with a flat tire. Foiled on my way to a yoga class at the West Island YMCA. Dejected. Discouraged.
I had shredded the tire. I felt the cost of that was better than waiting in the cold for 3 hours! A good trade off. However I did use that ancient word again when I paid the bill.
So after I got my tire replaced I had to rethink the whole YMCA issue. The West Island Y had seemed the best choice but then I remembered the one in NDG which my brother and I had gone to as teens: swimming classes (frozen hair on the way home) and teen parties (broken hearts). It had felt too weighted with memory but now it seemed the better choice
I went on a Monday. Don’s class. More asana than breathing!! Loved it.
Waiting outside the classroom I met a number of people who are still in my life: Ellen who turned out to have been married to my cousin Steve; Delia who is a personal and family friend, as well as a student; Claudette who became a friend and is now a student; Nicole; France. It didn’t know it at the time but that Monday evening was a pivotal one in my life.
I went again on Wednesday. Malcolm’s class. And then again on Friday, Malcolm’s class. Loved it more.
When I first saw Malcolm I felt like I knew him but it didn’t seem reciprocal so I never said anything. But the feeling persisted so I began to think that maybe I was meant to know him. But Malcolm keeps a distance from his students. As a retired teacher I understood that. But even more now I understand that yoga is mostly a female-centred realm and straight, attractive men wanting to be in that space could be suspect. Are suspect.
A year and a half passed and Don suggested that I might like to teach yoga. He told me a little about the training and recommended where to go. I researched the idea.
Then six month later, June, as I was having dinner with a friend at my favourite Mexican restaurant, in Lachine, El Meson, a woman walking past stopped and exclaimed, “Julie!?” It was Margaret, someone I had been friends with in my early years teaching and living in Hudson, back in the 1980’s. It had been a while. We chatted a bit and then invited each other to connect on Facebook. When I got to her page I discovered that my yoga teacher, Malcolm, was a friend of hers.
Remember 6 degrees from Kevin Bacon? Six degrees (or less) to Malcolm McLean.
Margaret was Malcolm’s sister. So I had taught their little sister Barbara, met their Mom, one or two of her brothers and had met Malcolm. We had met at a party in the late 1980’s. It may have been a set up. But Malcolm is a ‘nice guy’ and back then I wasn’t into nice guys. Particularly nice guys who were single fathers with twins.
So now my yoga teacher, Malcolm, and I both knew we knew each other but we didn’t talk about it. We didn’t talk. I even gave him a lift home one evening after class on a particularly cold night…but still we didn’t mention this connection.
I began my teacher training in December. In January I told Malcolm about it. In March I asked him out for coffee and on March 5 we had our first date.
So here I am sitting in a meditation hall at a 3 day silent retreat in Sutton. Our teacher, Pascal, has just told us a story about his father, how a small change, one shift in direction can change everything. In his story, the result was a tragic loss. In my story, that flat tire led me to a yoga practice that was right for me, led me back to teaching, led me to Malcolm (now my husband and the editor/publisher of the book he encouraged me to write), led me to owning a yoga studio and led me to a meditation practice with serious intent.
Each decision we make, each moment we allow life to change direction, can change everything.. Call it fate. Call it karma. Call it ‘the butterfly effect’. Call it the ‘concept of dependent origination” of Buddhism
The entire trajectory of my life was changed by a flat tire. Call it the Flat Tire Effect.
“Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. but what will happen in all the other days that will ever come can depend on what you do today.” –Barack Obama