Five in the morning, again.
There was a period of oh, at least five years, when every New Year’s Day found me at five in the morning sitting at a certain table in the corner of a certain bar in Tel Aviv.
Two of those years I’d spent New Year’s Eve working behind the bar there. So I probably wasn’t sitting there for long.
Taking a rest before we’d have to kick out the last of the revelers and pool players to mop the floors, count the money and close up.
Two of those years I’d spent New Year’s Eve working behind a different bar, and then heading back over after closing. To recover. To complain about the tips. To see friends and lend a hand if necessary.
And one year I’m really not sure how I ended up there except where else would I end up? It was home.
It doesn’t matter. Say New Year’s Day and I’m sitting at that table in a corner again, rolling a cigarette. A glass of whiskey on the table. Morning approaching.
Hey, tradition is tradition.
I only ever had one wish back then and that was to finally be able to save enough money to get the hell out of Israel and move to Berlin.
And if anyone at the bar was misguided enough to ask me what my resolution for Sylvester was, I’d tell them that it would be to not be sitting at this damn table in the corner next year at five in the morning on New Year’s for once.
Every single year.
All I wanted from the New Year was to not be where I was for the next one.
But of course the truth was that I also loved New Year’s morning at my bar. It was familiar and comfortable and I was surrounded by people who adored me.
And I’d always joke that sitting at that table in the corner at five in the morning pining for Berlin had become such an important tradition in my life that it definitely wasn’t going to stop.
In fact, I’d smirk, after I move to Berlin I plan to leave Berlin and fly back to Tel Aviv once a year for New Year’s … so that I can sit at this table in the corner and bitch about how I wish I were in Berlin already.
After all, it’s a tradition.
But I didn’t go back.
This year I was also up at five in the morning on New Year’s Day. But not at that table in the corner.
I woke up at five and went to meditate, like I do every day. Because it’s what I do every day. Because it nourishes me and holds me. Because it’s tradition.
And then I opened my computer and started writing. Like I do every day. Because it’s my sanctuary. And because it’s tradition.
My new traditions do not in any way negate the old ones. For the record.
I’m smiling right now, thinking about that table in the corner. Not because hey, I’m not there anymore but because it’s a happy memory. I’m feeling fondness towards the whole scene actually.
My black, black humor which sustained me through so much hard. The people I loved. The place which was always there for me, where I was always welcome.
I would have been astonished then if you’d told me that I’d manage to quit smoking, that I’d make plenty of money and always have enough, that at some point I wouldn’t be upset, hurt and angry about nearly so many things.
But I would also have been overjoyed to know that this new way of doing things would be grounded in tradition, ritual, playfulness and a sharp sense of humor.
Time. It’s the sweetest thing you can give yourself.
Before I left Tel Aviv and finally moved to Berlin, I’d been studying with this spiritual teacher.
One day in class one of the women in our group was speaking bitterly about how much she was struggling with a particular pattern, and how the new habit wasn’t taking root, and how nothing was ever going to change.
And my teacher said something like “Oh my dear, you’ve been carrying this pattern with you for what, thirty years? You’ve been working on it with these new methods for a few weeks? You’re allowed to have it for another day or two. It might need a little time.”
I remember thinking … I can give myself time?
I can forgive myself for not having fixed it yet? I can still have this horrible, embarrassing habit for another couple days or another couple weeks and it’s okay because I’m working on it and actively involved in the process?
It was the same thing my yoga teacher was also always saying. And of course the same thing I said to my own students.
But I got it. I was allowed to take my time. To give myself as long as it was going to take. And to give that time to myself with love and patience and understanding.
As it happens, not long after that I was a non-smoker. And living in Berlin.
I’m not going to end this.
One of the things I’m trying (well, hoping) to transmit to everyone taking the Screw Therapy Start Blogging course is that not everything needs to gets tied up at the end.
That you really don’t always have to have one specific point. Or any point.
That you don’t always have to hammer in some sort of big Important Lesson. Or ask a Provocative Question to get people talking. Or wrap things up for them in a neat little series of bullet points.
That people are going to get from it what they need to get from it anyway. And most of the time it’s not the thing you think you’re giving. Sometimes not even close.
But I am going to make a wish.
Well, call it a blessing for the New Year. Or if that’s too cheesy/annoying, call it my sincere hope for you (and for me). Who knows, maybe it will become a tradition.
Whatever patterns and habits you’ve taken with you into the new year, whatever you’re still working on … I’m not impressed by the fact that these patterns and habits are still there.
I don’t think they say anything bad about you. Not at all. You’re a real live human being working on your stuff, just like the rest of us.
It’s always easier for someone not right there in the hard to give you time and to be able to trust in the process and all that stuff. To remind you that giving yourself permission to be where you are beats the hell out of wishing you weren’t.
So I’m wishing for you the ability to remember that you have as much time as you need, that no one is judging you but yourself … and that we’re all here with you working on the same things, each of us in our own way.
And if I can remember this slightly more often this year too … oh, that would be awesome.
Happy day, guys. See you tomorrow.
This was just exactly what I needed to read today. A cup of tea for the heart, once again. In this case, mint tea.
Joely Blacks last blog post..Final words for 2008, and a word for 2009
Happy new year, Havi. Made happier for me by knowing you. 🙂
May this year bring you time and tradition, play and humour and every blessing to sustain you.
Love and hugs,
Hiro Bogas last blog post..Creative Connection: Where’s Your Muse When the Baby’s Spitting Up at 3 am?
I remember quitting smoking and failing and quitting smoking and failing and feeling like these failures were somehow part of it and that one day there would be a window and I’d leap through it.
Quitting smoking was hardddd.
Black Hockey Jesuss last blog post..Stings
“you have as much time as you need” – what a comforting sentence! Reading your article made me reflect on my impatience, my expecting to change certain habits overnight. The important fact is that I work on them, isn’t it?
Sending hugs from Berlin,
Ulla Hennigs last blog post..The Best Posts of 2008
Lovely beginning to 2009, Davi! Thank you! You have reminded me of my first post on my new blog, way back on Dec. 15, 2008, about believing that everything I need is available to me in abundance (http://worleydervish.blogspot.com/2008/12/everything-i-need.html).
One reader responded that she thought that was true for everything except time. Mmmm… First thought, yes. Second thought, no. Because you can pack a lifetime into a single, centered moment.
Thank you for the reminder that there’s always plenty of time. It’s one of those things that, when you really believe it, it’s true.
Havi, this is the best thing I’ve read in 2009! Happy Day!
Marks last blog post..Shifting Frequencies in Extraordinary Times
Happy New Year!
The sentance that most struck me is something I say quite a bit: That you really don’t always have to have one specific point. Or any point.
It’s true for blogging, for life and for relationships. I’m at the age where my girlfriends are getting married or asking “can I marry this guy?” and I try to remind them, gently, that marriage or a fulfilled relationship isn’t a POINT. It’s an ongoing thing. The wedding ceremony isn’t what makes you a couple..it’s all those little moments when you decide to forgive and accept and bend and love. There is no point of completion in any relationship (romantic or platonic); it’s always shifting and moving and is really quite slippery.
So, I know this wasn’t about relationships, but it seems to me that all of life is about relationships, both external (friends, lovers) and internal (with yourself and your stuckness)…so yeah, a good reminder that we don’t have tie things up. That we can give ourselves and our loved (or strongly-liked ones) time and space to forgive and love.
Taras last blog post..Merry Christmas!
Havi, I love your brilliance and thoughtfulness more and more every day. Happy New Year’s.
In 1999, I graduated college and went on to what I thought I was supposed to do, which was PhD study in genetics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
I did not like it. It did not suit me, at all. I’d take really inappropriately long breaks and escape to this enclosed atrium cafeteria to sit in the sunshine, read, and drink coffee. Those breaks were so long and so frequent that I can’t believe I wasn’t fired.
Then I started to feel claustrophobic. Started to hate it. Started having panic attacks. Bad ones.
So I left. On a wing and a prayer, I left. Had no real plan; just had to get the hell out.
Yet on and off for years afterward, I would make the long trip back to CWRU. I would take a book. I’d go into that big atrium cafeteria, get a cup of coffee, and read.
Then I’d leave, and make the long trip home.
I have no idea why, except that it felt like a comforting tradition — the one thing I could relax in while my world otherwise really sucked.
Your story about the bar reminds me of exactly that. Exactly.
Johnny Truants last blog post..Unfortunately, pants
And now–in perfect timing–we have the privilege of seeing you and Selma in the New York Times New Year edition! Yaaay! Teaching about non-sucky yoga and humor. Looking splendidly lovely and sunshine-bright. 🙂
Such an auspicious beginning to 2009!
Hiro Bogas last blog post..Creative Connection: Where’s Your Muse When the Baby’s Spitting Up at 3 am?
woke to a sweet note of recognition from a dear friend … then onto your post … it occured to me that we-humans ‘invented’ time so that we could appreciate the overlap of our lives & stories. from yet another corner table, i thank you 🙂
Just wanted to add that I saw you in the NYT! I really love the idea of taking the suck (or the stuffiness) out of yoga. It makes it much more accessible for those of us less bendy people.
Joely Blacks last blog post..Welcome to 2009: It’s all in the details
Nice job (to you and Selma =) getting the front page of NYT Thursday Style (E1)! I feel that starting the year off with an article on yoga is a great sign for this upcoming year…
Shawn Tuttles last blog post..Is the nose pointed in the right direction?
As usual, this is beautiful, and a wonderful way to start the year. Thank you, dear Havi!
And JT, your story reminds me so much of me in law school. The panic attacks, the desperation to escape, the overwhelming knowledge that this is Not What I’m Supposed to be Doing. The difference for me was that when I left, I never went back, not even in my head, like Havi. Maybe one day …
Right now, I’m just excited to be writing. I think 2009 is going to be pretty great. Happy New Year, everyone!
Diane Whiddon-Browns last blog post..Not So Resolute
Ach! I’m sorry for getting your name wrong in my earlier post. Must sleep more. *blushing furiously* You rock, Havi, and I’m kindof a looloo. Thanks!
Mary Ray Worleys last blog post..Success!
Havi (and Selma), your last section is brilliant. Happy new year, anyway.
Your brilliant insights, guidance and advice aside – and I loved today’s post – but, if it’s not essential to have a point, then it must be okay to occasionally not comment on the point even if there is one, yes? – sometimes I love your blog all the more for reading like a great serial novel. The adventures in Tel Aviv! The adventures in Berlin! It’s quite a page-turner and I bow to your abilities as a writer. Yours is a fascinating and compelling story. Thanks for sharing it so generously in all the ways you do. Cheers to the new year!
Cairenes last blog post..Business Manual-Preparation
an email list I’m on about self acceptance has a wonderful manta ‘only go as fast as the slowest part of yourself.’
creativevoyages last blog post..a wee reminder
Ahhh, I love this.
Time is something I need to learn to give myself.
I will remind myself of this often 🙂 when things are feeling hard.
Sarah Marie Lacys last blog post..2009, Thou Shalt Be The Year of Non Suck.
“…not everything needs to gets tied up at the end…That people are going to get from it what they need to get from it anyway. And most of the time it’s not the thing you think you’re giving. Sometimes not even close.”
Absolutely genius. I couldn’t agree more; and I couldn’t have put it better. You have a new follower :]
You’re a wise and wonderful woman, Havi Brooks, and I am honoured, grateful, and delighted to know you. (And Selma, too, of course!)
I’m in the midst of an identity crisis or six myself. It’s always nice to hear you talk about how you can still identify with and love your past even after so much change.
You’re wonderful, really. And 2009 is going to be so much fun – I can already tell.
Great thing to give myself the time I need. I always feel I should be further down the road than I am and tend to demean the progress I have made. Thanks for the reminder that it’s ok to be where I am for right now.
I love how timeless your words are. I just read this for the first time today and I just want to thank you. 🙂
.-= Amy´s last blog ..The Best First Step in Starting a Business =-.
It has been 8 years since I moved to Portland to work and make a living at something creative. It SUCKS to realize I have to give myself even more time than that because I’m still not doing it. I have no option BUT to give myself more time, so I am having a hard time feeling freed up by this.
I am trying to hang on to this part today:
“I can forgive myself for not having fixed it yet. I can still have this horrible, embarrassing habit for another couple days or another couple weeks and it’s okay because I’m working on it and actively involved in the process.”
“That you don’t always have to hammer in some sort of big Important Lesson. (…)
That people are going to get from it what they need to get from it anyway. And most of the time it’s not the thing you think you’re giving. Sometimes not even close”
– you never know what you’re giving !!
– no need to pretend.
– there is so little control
– even in or perhaps especially in giving
– words and writing are a form of giving
– it’s ok to be up at 5 in the morning and have a whiskey and smoke a cigarette and dream about leaving !!