Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Diana, I love you!

I am really thinking so much about our Hero, Diana Long.  She has been in the hospital for weeks now, as doctors have been trying to get her out of extreme pain, figure out what's happening in her stomach, and get her well enough to endure the treatment she needs for the leukemia that has very sadly returned.  She lost a lot of weight over the past few weeks, but is, Laura says, gaining some back now, which is a really good thing.  Her husband Jim is with her, as are her daughters, taking turns.

We deeply miss her in our Sausalito kula, the Sausie Posse.  She is deeply missed in Berkeley, too, as part of Abby's kula.

Diana is someone who inspires all of us with so much love and courage and strength and kindness.  Someone so generous and so loving.  Someone who never fails to dazzle with her smile.

I think we all want to be just like Diana when we grow up.

I wanted to share something I wrote on Diana's birthday last year, so jazzed by what she'd done in class that I came home, wrote it, sent it off to the local paper.  They ran it a few weeks later, but I don't think I ever posted it here.

With much love to Diana, always.


*  *  *  *  *

In celebration of her 70th birthday, my friend Diana was asked to demonstrate handstand in our Saturday morning yoga class.  As Diana set up for the pose, in the middle of the room, the teacher walked us through what Diana was doing, how committed her fingertips were into her mat, how strong her arms.  And then a light kick, and up she went.  The teacher kept a hand on each of Diana’s hips, and we sang her Happy Birthday as she held there, upside down, perfect.

This is a devoted crew, the Saturday morning 8:30 gang that meets to practice with our beloved teacher.  We know little about each other off the mat, what we do for a living, how we came to be in this place.  What we do know is this shared devotion and the deep bonds we form with each other through it.  It’s a remarkable process to be a part of, participating in the practice of yoga and finding new and delightful friendships as a result.

When the song was through and Diana touched down, we all cheered and applauded her.   It’s always a stunning thing to celebrate one in our midst this way, the way we all feel happy when someone manages something for the first time – that first backbend, for example, the first arm-balance.  It was a new experience for me when I started yoga almost 8 years ago now, to share in someone else’s triumphs like that, a new trick mastered, a body gone where its person never thought it would.  We can learn new things all the time.  All we have to do is practice.  And cheer each other on.

The thing about Diana is that she has been practicing yoga for just three years.  It’s not like she was a gymnast at any time in her life, so that she is now simply calling on muscle memory.  No, Diana had never, before 67, done a handstand.  The thought might never even have occurred to her.  But now, here she is, surrounded by new and loving friends, doing just that – popping up with so much grace into the form, then holding it there with a strength that blows us all away.

This, the teacher said, is what 70 looks like.  Take it in.  How wonderful to think of us growing up together on our mats, getting older together in this ongoing celebration.  Diana, our teacher said, is my hero.    

And so she is for so many of us.  So kind and generous, such a big heart and so much grace and strength in equal measure.  And still learning, as we all can, no matter our age, with the will and the support of our friends. 

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