12.14.12

It's difficult to believe that it has happened twice in less than 2 months.  I taught 2 classes on the Thursday morning after Hurricane Sandy destroyed our neighborhoods. Then, yesterday, I taught 2 classes on Saturday morning after the unfathomable happened just across the Long Island Sound in Connecticut.  They were 2 very different occurrences,  but both placed me in a similar circumstance.

People come to my indoor cycling classes for various reasons.  Of some of them, I am aware. Of some I'm not.  Some come to simply sweat out last night's indulgences. Some come to clear their minds, for just an hour, of an overwhelming life circumstance, such as the illness of a child (true story).  Most people fall somewhere on the continuum between these two extremes.  Because I don't know the specific needs of every student who clips into a bike, I try to create a generalized blend of positivity, encouragement, humor, and my own variation of meditation in motion.  Just like in other "groups" I've led, I encourage (and expect) people to use what works for them and leave behind what does not.

Yet, teaching after a tragedy, such as the ones we have recently experienced, can be awkward.  The positivity seems trite.  The words seem empty and the distance I see in our clients' eyes tells me they are just not present.  I don't expect them to be.  After Sandy, for some inexplicable reason, we were the only neighborhood group fitness facility who had power.  Our outlets were overflowing with webs of cords and chargers, plugged into the only available form of communication.  Our classes were packed.  Our clients came through the door, layered, bundled and shivering after another cold night in their dark homes, grateful for our hot showers.  There were no towels, as the owner of our delivery service lost his home in Breezy Point.  On that Thursday, I knew (and was told) people needed our classes to help them detach and allow their endorphins to de-stress them, even for just a little while.  I knew what to say.  It was a gift to teach that day, and we were very grateful to be open to assist that process.

Yesterday was different.  I had no idea what to say.  There was nothing to say.  Every positive sentence felt (and still does) like it hung in the air with some indescribable inappropriateness.  Almost every one of us in that room was a mother or father.  Newtown is exactly like our towns.  I've only watched a few short minutes of news this weekend, but when I did, it was like looking into the faces of our own community.  As we came together Saturday morning, we were already breathless with the heaviness of what happened.

My playlists were done earlier in the week and I didn't have time to change them.  So, I went in and just taught what I had planned.  Just taught.  I didn't think or say much about it.  I hoped, as always, that I created a space for the class to experience whatever they were going to experience and leave it at that.  That was my choice.

Admittedly, I haven't been able to untangle my own thoughts.  My brain feels like all those knotted charging cords after Sandy, but without the plug-in.  How do I begin to process this?  How can I reconcile my natural, logical desire to have answers with the emotional, heart wrenching empathy I feel as a mother, as a human being. I have not engaged in the debates on social media, as I see so many layers to the issues, so many questions that will, inevitably, remain unanswered.  Yet, I have the desire to DO something more.

Much like in the cycle room yesterday, my personal choice, I realize, has been to just be IN it, moment-to-moment.  For now, I have created the space to experience the emotions...to be angry, to be sad, to stare at my children in disbelief and feel a tiny bit of guilt that I get to hug them tonight, and, finally, to notice all the small but glorious shining moments of awareness, light and absolute sweetness that have still occurred over the past 48 hours.  Conflicted? Yes.  Blessed? Yes.  Teaching tomorrow? You bet.

Somewhat poetically, yesterday's music was also a bit of a departure from my normal vibe, with much more rock tossed in.  Classic.  Ryde on, friends.












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