Ma Joad, I was thinking as I slid into a yogic forward fold, noticing my grounded wide feet, spread toes and heels sunk into the mat. You know, the mother and driving force in Grapes of Wrath.
I had not thought of her since high school, when I wrote an essay for an exam, choosing her as the topic of my response. I don’t remember the question, just how her solidness struck me as the pillar of the family as I described her physique as a metaphor for her place and influence on the Joad clan. Promptly after, as we all discussed the test, much to my horror, I discovered no one else elected to answer the question citing the Grapes of Wrath. I must’ve screwed up, I stewed until a few weeks later as I gingerly opened the scoring envelope, squinting and steeling myself for bad news. All for nought: I captured the highest grade. I need to remind myself of that time and its lesson of not doubting myself – especially when I take the road less traveled. I had felt really good about my answer until I compared. That’s what typically gets me in trouble.
As we transitioned from the cascading bend into Warrior III, lifting one leg and spreading our arms, I felt balanced, graceful and the feminine foundation for my daughters, 121/2 and 151/2. I am their Ma Joad, even the days I struggle. I want to be perfect for them, there in every way conceivable, but, alas, I can not. So I do my best, which isn’t so swift some days, but pretty on-target others.
I’m trying to get my act together much as I can. That seems like a life’s work . Five weeks of physical relapse has taken me back to high school and doubting myself, but not totally. Something tells me on a deeper level that I am not in the place I was in high school or even last time I experienced a flare-up. I think I’m a bit higher up the mountain with a little more or, at least, different perspective. Both my pastoral counselor and chiropractor insist I’ve opened an old wound and am shedding or healing.
Right now, yoga hurts more, it’s hard to get up at 6 to swim laps when sleep comes as a luxury, yet I persevere no doubt thanks to divine grace more than any of my own. And another old nemesis has come to haunt me: the flirtation of money.
I believe it’s also haunting my youngest. She can’t manage to hang onto it and craves more. I tend to save it and disassociate from it. We’ve always been mirrors for each other. I think the learning now is for me to worry less about it and for her to see it’s not that important. Perhaps my dislike of it has forced her in the other direction. We both need balance. Seems I must find mine first as an example.
As we tackle our hurtles, I have decided we need to meditate every evening before bed TOGETHER. She needs it. I need it. We need each other. And, when two or three are gathered, you know what transpires.
If Ma Joad held her family together, then I can try likewise, reinforced by allowing space for Spirit in my life and my daughters’.
• When have I felt like the pillar of the family?
• When have I felt unbalanced?
• How does doubt topple that balance?
• What throws me off?
• What helps me rebalance toward Spirit?
firm and functional,
maybe not pretty
flat and strong,
thick and thin
health and illness
isolation and oneness
they keep my
and I am
Listen to this post: