Okay, so here’s the low-down. Part of my reason for running off to India at this point was because my relationship with Paul right now is extremely challenged. Actually we had a very good last summer together, very peaceful, cooperative and before it ended (early September) we went on several very nice camping trips, just him, Ginger and I. Although he has abandoned his yoga practice altogether, and mine was on hiatus (although I am always reading), we seemed to be maintaining a peaceable loving relationship and I thought we were actually doing very well. Then fall came around and we did the take-down for the season. Out of the blue, I noticed one day that Paul didn’t look like his usual self…it was apparent that he had used drugs, acid, in fact. I was disheartened, but let it go. Besides its so hard to be mad at him when he’s high on acid–with that gentle, loving look and demeanor that acid always imparts…his eyes all shiny, dilated and blissed-out.
In the meantime I was working hard to get everything done, so I could leave to visit my mother on October 1st for 2 weeks–she was having a long awaited and somewhat feared, gastric bypass surgery and I wanted to help support her transition back to the reality of life with a stomach as small as a golf ball. I would also be leaving Ginger with Paul for the first time ever. (although not excuses, these situations were weighing heavy on my mind). One of the main organizing chores about a week before I left was to remove all wedding decor and accessory items from the main room into storage in the bus. The bus is not a great storage solution, it gets heavy condensation all winter and most items are covered in mold and need washing in the spring. Paul took on this massive task with two workers. After some time, I went out to check how things were progressing and found to my surprise, Paul with dilated glassy-eyes coordinating events. Again, I had to let it go–but requested that he takes very special care to wrap everything, sort and store things well. He promised that he was “ON-IT”–yeah, sure, I know what you are on!!!
Days before I left, I popped into the bus to check it out before I left. To my dismay, I found skis and boots mixed in with boxes of wedding decor items, and valuable loads of fabrics and paper lanterns and other delicate items left unprotected, and a general massive disarray. I admit it, I lost my cool, all the years of yogic study and understanding when out the window–I totally became unconscious and reactionary–totally lost my center–fixated on the form, and became about as unyogic as possible–I found myself reacting exactly as I would have 4 years ago! I absolutely blew my stack–hit the roof! Cursing all the way, I corrected what was needed, removed all the delicate items into the house and vowed that I would not do Paul’s dirty work anymore. When he got home, I laid into him like nobody’s busines. I was enraged, he became enraged (although I personally thought he had no right to be)–it was damaging. No apologies were made either direction before I left for Ontario days later.
While in Ontario, Paul refuse to talk on the phone with me. Giving me only the briefest of answers to any question and sometimes refusing the answer the phone when I called. By the end of the two weeks, I asked him what was up and surprising to me, he said he was still mad at me for “talking to him that way”…funny, I thought I was the one who had the legitimate grievance–and I had already let it go.
He sent his mom to pick me up at the ferry. When I asked how Paul was doing, she said he is very depressed, “you two should figure something out” and “that thing you got so mad about, Paul and Peja checked on it, it wasn’t really so bad, and you really overreacted…” Hmm, I thought. interesting. “Did Paul happen to mention that he was high on drugs when he did the chore and that I already fixed up the problem before I left?” There was very long silence after that.
The greeting from Paul when I got home was so cold and miserable–that I thought–I’ve got to get the hell out of here immediately and for a good, long time….I immediately thought I should go to India and write my book. I began researching ashrams that very night.
Fortunately, certain things were in place in a way they have never been before….the stars were aligned as it were.
1. The test of leaving Ginger with Paul for 2 weeks was successful.
2. Ginger would be in full-time school for the first time this year.
3. Peja was living here, so Paul was not actually going to be alone.
4. Paul’s parents, Omi & Opa, are now living on site.
5. December/January is the lowest work time for me…and since we are in flux with rezoning I couldn’t upgrade the website. (my usual winter work)
6. We just refinanced the house and funny enough, had cash available–for the first time ever!!
7. We just made an application to rezone, but since it was an election year they wouldn’t be following up with anything before February.
After Paul adjust to the idea–he got right on board with it. Before I left, I had meeting with the cvrd council and discovered that applying for commercial zoning would not fly well, but that another zone called P2 seems like an ideal fit…its for education, spiritual institutions, health & wellness centers, botanical gardens and allows camping as it pertains to events. Thats it!! I quickly changed our application to reapply as a “spirituality institution”…which met with a dubious and sarcastic reaction from the council–until, I mentioned I would be indisposed until mid-January as I was going to an Indian ashram to study yoga. hmmm. perfect!
I quickly made a plan to stay at Sivanada’s ashram in Kerala, South India. I sent my passport to Vancouver for my Indian visa and was very lucky that they didn’t notice that I had neglected to sign it. Then literally, the day before I left, I sold our last 2 weddings, bringing us to 8–exactly what I already told the cvrd we were hosting next summer.
The stage was set…almost.
Just 3 weeks before I left, I hadn’t bought my ticket yet…and one night I had a complete nervous breakdown. I started thinking about my previous experiences in India, how the abject poverty & excruciating suffering is inescapable. I vividly recalled women, seated on the sidewalks weakly tugging at my pant legs, begging for food and money with tiny starving babies in their frail arms…suddenly, I thought–I can’t do it….I cant face that now, not now, after having a child of my own! I had a complete melt down, I lay in bed shaking and crying for about a hour–devastated by this sudden realization and the implications–I could never go back to India! It is times like this where meditation is so helpful. Finally I got myself calmed down and meditated for about 7 minutes, shutting out all thoughts and reactions–just breathed.
When I came back to my mind, I recognized that whether I was there to witness it or not, the poverty and suffering would still occur. I realized too that the last times I was in India I was 22 and 26; and at that time I gave away food and money and wanted to give away all my money, but I realized that if I did, I would not be able to experience that reality. (I realized now that anybody I helped before has probably already died and has been replaced by hundreds, maybe thousands more) Back then I vowed I would absorb the reality of the situation and someday do something about it–someday when I knew more, or had more. Now was that time! I was going to study yoga, write my book and hopefully help set the world on a better course…I could look at the suffering, and although I would feel their pain, I could use that to motivate me even more–I could face the reality, knowing that I am trying!
Just days before I left, I had a thought that perhaps I should have a backup plan for Sivananda’s (since they have such a tough schedule…) so I looked up other ashrams in Kerala…and the one that I took note of was Amritapuri, led by the living female guru called Amma, known as the hugging saint. The ashram didn’t sound appealing to me based on the website, it had no formal yoga program, and promised to be very busy over xmas and new years–they also didnt state the price of accommodations. It sounded a bit mickey-mouse to me, a bit Disney-land of ashrams…but I wrote the information down in my little book, just in case.
The very next morning, Arwin my neice, came to visit Ginger and I noticed that she was wearing a little red ring with a face on it…the face, I recognized, was Amma. I asked her about it. She said that her auntie on the other side of the family was going to India for 7 weeks to see Amma–I said, hmm, well auntie Anita is going to India for 7 weeks and I might see Amma too…as I said this, I knew this was no coincidence and I had to visit her too, at least briefly.
Now, the stage was set…