The Years Shall Run Like Rabbits

One of my favorite movies of all time is Before Sunrise, which I have seen so many times the disc is completely scratched up. One of the memorable scenes that seems to be permanently stuck in my mind is when Ethan Hawke’s character recites the poem As I Walked out One Evening by W.H. Auden.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.

These last days, as the calendar says it’s time for Spring, though the weather in Seattle today violent disagrees (heavy rain and 30mph wind), these lines remind me: ‘O let not Time deceive you. You cannot conquer Time.

Time goes fast, we keep hearing that. We keep hearing these clichéd phrases until they become tired like that proverbial broken record, but there are moments when they hit home so close that you finally get what they are all about, then they become true on a cellular, experiential level.

This month marks exactly one year since I finished my 200-hour training from Pacific Yoga, a 9-month program that sent me deep into the woods of yogic studies. It left me bewildered, confused, amazed, and humbled. Next month this time, I’ll be graduating from the 500-hour teacher training, a program that I started a year ago.

This morning when I was gathering my training attendance records, I went over the schedule of each session with mixed emotions. I was proud that I had been exposed to so much material, and I was a bit nervous because I don’t think I remember every single thing I’ve learned. But that anxiety did not last very long. I was immediately reminded of how I’m still going over the material that I learned in the 200-hour training, how everything I learned continues to emerge for me to grasp, understand, and learn them again.

I’m comforted by Yoga Sutra I.14, which is something of a personal mantra as of late. I learned this sutra in my 200-hour training, and it’s taken over a year for me to get it.

Satu dirgha kala nairantarya satkara asevitah dridha bhumih – YS 1.14

This sutra roughly says that there are three things that make a practice is firmly rooted and becomes stable:

  • dirgha kala: a long time
  • nairantarya: without interruption
  • satkara: devotion

I’m comforted by knowing that when May rolls around and Graduation day comes, and it will be here soon enough, I won’t really have to be “done”. I’ll still have some time to continue to do whatever work is left to do, which is endless, really. “Your certificate is a certificate to begin your studies,” Judith Hanson Lasater said once.

Having said that, I also know that I don’t really have *that* much time. Recently, a family friend passed away completely unexpectedly, and her untimely death shocked all of us to the core. My mom celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday. We were sitting at the kitchen table talking about it last week when she looked at me tenderly and said, “You’re 28, you turn around, and you’re 60. Time goes so much faster than you think.” I nodded and looked at my mom, I mean really looked at her, trying to capture what she looked like, because I’ll want to remember that exact moment when I turn 60.

In one of her talks, Pema Chodron cited Suzuki Roshi: “Knowing life is short, enjoy it day after day, moment after moment.” Sure, it’s easy for *them* to say that, but what about me? Me who’s got enough Vata to bottle energy drinks for an army? Me who’s constantly distracted and checking my iPhone and the latest tweet and blog and facebook status and what’s hot, what’s new, what’s latest, everything but what’s here and what’s now?

I’m practically a lost cause, running after anything that’s shiny, promising instant gratification and an escape from this mundane moment. My saving grace is yoga. Over these past two years of immersing myself in the teacher trainings, attending workshops, and committing to a daily meditation practice, I have occasionally caught glimpses of what it might be all about, that, “enjoy it moment after moment” thing. You cannot conquer time, but you can learn to be its companion.

To me, that’s what the practice is about, and it’ll take a long time, being consistent, and lots of dedication.  I will not let Time deceive me, and I will not deceive it. I’m humbled by Time, and I will let it run its course. In the meanwhile, all I can do is continue to practice with what I’ve got, one day at a time.

To all you guys reading this, kudos to you for committing yourself to this practice, or any practice for that matter. Kudos to you for showing up, and committing your mind, and body, and time, to whatever it is that floats your boat: climbing, painting, singing, writing, dancing, etc. All I can say is, if that’s your thing, and it’s doing you good, as long as it feeds you, it doesn’t matter where you are in the process, just keep going.

When I’m 60, or 70, or 80, if I will have learned to sit or lie down in Savasana and not think of a million and one things having nothing to do with that current moment, I will probably tell W.H. Auden, “Ha! See? I *can* conquer time.” At which point I’ll remember the movie Before Sunrise and think of all my favorite scenes, and poof, there will go my mind again.

Color-coordinated mother and daughter. With my beautiful mom on her 60th birthday.

Color-coordinated mother and daughter. With my beautiful mom on her 60th birthday.