I'm dealing with an injury right now. Well, injuries to be more precise; an injury seems to invite friends-- if you know what I mean. This is to say that I haven't felt my best lately. I haven't felt much joy in my practice, I haven't felt that rush and glow of post-yoga bliss, and I haven't really been able, despite the counsel of good friends and teachers, to consistently look past the negative, the pain and the emotions that surround physical limitation.
But my mindset shifted just a bit this past weekend. Not at a yoga class, not while meditating, not under the guidance of my teachers, but on a farm in front of a peach.
Against all medical advice and even common sense, I went peach picking this weekend. (I recently returned to the East Coast, I was anxious to fill up my empty freezer and get my larder stocked for the long winter ahead!) Scanning the fields I narrowed in on the prime trees, those with the largest globes, glowing fiery orange in the afternoon light.
We had picked quite a few peaches already when I spied what I thought was the perfect peach. High in the branches, this specimen was so ripe that it was almost crimson and to the touch offered that magical combination of firm yet yielding--which, as an aside, is exactly how one of my teachers describes the texture of the ideal buttocks in Bridge Pose.
When I got this peach safely down from the heights, however, I felt deceived and deflated. The side, which had been hidden from view, had a chunk missing; the wasps that buzzed around the orchard had beaten me to the punch. I nearly tossed it on the ground to rot amongst its fellow fruity victims, but something stopped me: the words of a farmer friend echoed in my ears. "Fruit is at its peak a split-second before the wasps get to it," he once told me.
You see, the bugs know better than we do; they can sense that perfect moment.
I paused to reconsider my peach. If it was good enough for the wasps, I suppose it was good enough for me. I placed it with the others and paid for it at full price. And once home it was the first peach I ate. In one of those glorious moments where juice runs all the way down to your elbows, I realized that this peach's imperfection, what most would consider a damning blemish, was actually a sign of its perfection. Pesticide free and sugar sweet to the point that the wasps would eat it, the little missing chunk was a sign that my peach had a rich and complete life, that it had bathed in many days of sunshine, that it had been cooled by many afternoon breezes.
So too might I reconsider my injuries. But these scars, unlike the peaches, will heal; these are not imperfections that signal damnation and stagnation, but rather little wounds that testify to the fullness of my experiences. I have gone very deeply into the yoga this summer, and I have reaped the fruits of all that labor. Now my task is to not fixate on the imperfections as blemishes, but rather see the flip-side of my experience. Imperfection and perfection are just two different sides of the same coin (or peach, if you will).