A shoulder tap. The teacher in remarkably thin linen, gently observing that his head should point to the center, not the wall. This, even fifty-two years into the project, could create several seconds of shame.
Today he laughs, swivels on the mat, deliberately brushing Julie’s arm, and receives the soothing suggestions.
Connect to a heartfelt desire…
(That we take the peace of this class home to our daughter.)
Move awareness through your body..
(Oh wow. My shoulder feels better!)
Witness your thoughts…
(I’m sorry I’m even in that book. That last line is embarrassing. Writing makes me unhappy. Please, stop.)
First, that scooter he bought to ride around with June. Then showing off at beach yoga. Anyone could have predicted what would come next.
Facebook posts. Many. Of his kid and his wife, at the volcano and the waterfall…OMG, JUNE IS SNORKELING!
Worst of all, selfies from the golf course.
The only pics left in the camera were of food. Sure, you could have tasted that brick of flaming marshmallow flanked by banana ice cream and an elegant pile of graham cracker crumbs right through the video. But he had to maintain a shadow of his fiction. That cool reserve.
Back home dudes shame him with handstands on the way down to chaturanga. On the beach he’s the only one jumping up to complete the vinyasas.
So he becomes that guy, rising unbidden from bridge into full wheel and doing a sweet, solitary shoulder stand before savasana.
After class he presents, sweaty and sandy, for an attaboy.
But teacher Whipple congratulates himself. “Dude you’re here without your wife? I’m super impressed! I converted you to yoga!”
Denied his dose of praise, McCormick smiles and nods and walks into the waves, which are cool and soothing, just like the day before.
At beach yoga McCormick checked the other towels. Sunburned ankles, vanilla thighs, sandy glutes. But no buzzing and slapping. The carrion call was for him.
Probably because of the knee he skinned falling of his scooter last week. (Oh, Mikey, remember how you reviled grownups on scooters?)
New flesh came off like pudding skin in the hot-tub. Left a puffy yellow glob. The flies thought he was dead already.
Ten hours later, while June naps, he runs Makena Road. Left his glasses in the room. Can’t read the heart monitor. But he feels fast and hot, even this close to sunset.
(The Guru’s picture on his bookcase has Julie on Weirdo Alert.)
McCormick, shook, calculates.
Blending with Lakshmimani’s voice during Namaskirtana makes him One with God for sure. But that bald guy keeps saying he’s loud and flat when everyone else says he sounds great.
He’s seen the Blue Pearl, a rare spiritual gift. He’s also been scolded for letting his feet point toward the empty chair in front of the hall.
Is the Guru hovering above his Crown chakra, or is she the woman upstate who poses for the puja pictures and book jackets?
Turning back his way, Julie manages a smile. Heart restored.
Of course he will dismantle the shrine.
(a positive home-pregnancy test makes McCormick think back on how they got here…)
After twelve years of Julie on Wall Street and him teaching upstate, Digi-Match’s algorithm wanted them back together.
Eastern practice must have suggested connection. She frequented a Gramercy studio where celebrities learned headstands. He was a Sangam Yoga devotee searching for Inner Self.
On their third date, McCormick assumed his Ashramishly ordered apartment would advertise great worth
Julie liked the single sunflower in its green glass vase, and really liked the high-end kitchen appliances. But a big picture of the Guru, a young Indian woman wrapped in an orange shawl, whose eyes gathered and pierced? No, that she didn’t like.
(McCormick sits alone on his living-room rug, trying to recapture the peaceful feeling of the Ashram days…)
His crown chakra—the Lotus Throne—spreads open. Surge of bliss: breath rising, belly lifting, ribcage spreading. He looks for the Blue Pearl. Then stops looking, so it will come. He remembers not signing the permission slip. Damn. June was so ready for zip line. His eyes pop open, admitting the cluttery pile of papers from the last article. And Julie’s diamond teardrop, under the couch. He burrows back into the stillness, chin lifted to heaven. He sneaks a peek at the spot on the ceiling where paint always cracks. Then he gets up and calls the ceiling guy.
When McCormick first saw The Blue Pearl the shock of fortune disabled him. It had only been a month since he’d received, for five-hundred dollars, the Guru’s initiating touch. And yes he’d cleaned the ashram bathrooms every week. And yes he’d felt his burdens lift in the quiet, incense-soaked mediation hall. But that glowing azure seed was meant to be the culmination of lifetimes.
So when it burst in that day, McCormick, though breathless with bliss, did not board the ship for distant worlds that undeniably had come. Instead he opened his eyes and looked around, at everyone else.