I could have stayed in Reno. But I did not. I think of this sometimes. Not as much as I used to, but sometimes. I thought about it this morning as I took my place in a very crowded yoga class and looked up at the teacher, and thought, Huh. She looks different. This teacher is known for her love of twisting and just as I was thinking how she looked different she said she would not be doing as much twisting and then I thought, Oh. She’s pregnant. And then she said, I am pregnant.
I thought about this announcement, like I always do when I hear someone is pregnant. Reaching down deep inside to see what kind of emotions crop up. Sitting in ardha padmasana, I felt more longing to achieve padmasana than pregnancy. As the lights got lower I looked deeper even still and the closest I got to something approaching
wistfulness regret was the thought that I could have had a baby. I could have stayed in Reno, and had a baby.
But I did not.
As we began to focus more on our breathing I (re)considered this: staying in Reno. What would have been like? Interestingly, there is far less mystery to this than there is to seemingly parallel questions (what would it be like to pick up and move to Tasmania, for example.) If I had stayed in Reno, it is quite easy and predictable to see what would have unfolded.
I could have stayed in Reno. Stretching back into adho mukha svanasana that inverted reality materialized in my mind: a perfectly fine house in a perfectly fine suburb, with a perfectly acceptable job, and a perfectly acceptable partner, driving my perfectly acceptable car, shopping at perfectly adequate malls, eating at perfectly decent restaurants, having a perfectly normal wedding, and the making a (hopefully?) perfectly normal (or at least normally put together) baby. Or two. It is frighteningly easy to see it play out. It would have looked a lot like that. If I would have stayed in Reno.
But I did not.
From chaturanga up into urdhva mukha svanasana I reconsidered this: I could have stayed in Reno. There were a few people who not only assumed I would, they planned on it to the tune of sharing a mortgage and buying an engagement ring. I daresay there were some who might have hoped I stayed too, for very different reasons. But I did not.
I did not stay in Reno and consequently I found Hong Kong. I found that I have an urban soul. I found that I can work anywhere. I found homes perfectly suited to me; in the jungle, in foreign ghettos, in ex-pat highrises, on wide open beaches. I found life without a car, without so many things I thought were necessary. I met people who were so different from me they were just like me. I maybe even found me. I probably still could’ve had a baby.
But I did not.
I could have stayed in Reno… Back to adho mukha svanasana I smiled thinking how people say Reno is so close to Hell you can see Sparks. I never thought it was all that sparkly myself. In leaving I certainly did not take any road less traveled, or discover anything that had not been discovered a hundred times over by a hundred others before me, or otherwise change the world. But I did not stay in Reno, and that has made me all kinds of different.
…chitta vritti nirodhah…
Tada drashtuh svarupe avasthanam.