As I sadly watched the dismantling of the yurt where I practiced yoga, the words of Yogi Berra came to mind, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
In spite of the fact that Berra had a habit of mangling quotes, I felt he knew exactly what he was saying with this one—that people and their circumstances do not need to be restricted to or by just one path.
The yurt had stood in the same spot for five years, but a recent building code issue with the City of Encinitas resulted in a mandate to remove the circular tent. Perhaps I would find a fresh start in a new place, or maybe I would wander around doing tree poses in traffic, but whatever happened, it was certain that I would have to blaze a new trail to an old destination.
I discovered the yurt when my previously giddy relationship with Ocean Beach soured and I began flirting with Encinitas. OB and I had become like a bad marriage where the more I complained, the worse the situation got. Maybe it was the drunken frat boys urinating under my window or the vandalism to my truck; it could have been the stabbing that occurred just a few feet from my apartment or maybe I had just grown too old and cranky to live there anymore. Whatever the reason, I had to leave.
Bidding an emotional farewell to the funky hamlet I once loved, I took the north fork to a town where I felt I could quietly collect my thoughts without being serenaded by neighbors who played music that sounded like two trains colliding and skidding down the tracks. I figured that a community that sported a big honkin’ yoga compound with roofs shaped into gigantic gold lotus blossoms might help me to relax enough to sort out decisions about how to organize my priorities and what to do with the rest of my life.
The tango with the yurt began shortly after settling into my new digs. First, I paced back and forth on the front sidewalk, stopping only to read the class schedule tacked to the fence. Soon I mustered enough nerve to sashay through the entrance and down the steps that led to the grassy area where the yurt stood. I paused to smell the flowers in the organic garden where I lingered to drink in the ambiance. The final turn into the structure swept me into a beginner’s class, where I wrapped my legs around the air and lifted my hips into a downward facing dog.
The yurt became a magical spot where all my cares, along with my shoes, were left behind at the door. In this circular place of peace, I morphed from a fighter jet into a horse and buggy that clip clopped to an Eastern tune. Eventually, I would also discover how to calm my mind enough to quiet the 2,000 mouths inside my head that all talked at once. Each week, I looked forward to visiting the quirky sanctuary with the soothing music where my wound-up, high-strung self could melt into a cosmic puddle.
I continued to watch as the yurt was further dismembered, and the doors that opened to everyone were lovingly placed on top of a neatly stacked pile of wood. I stared at the round spot in the grass where at one time so many of us had shared the common goal of trying to reach nirvana on a planet that seemed to have run amok.
Lost in my thoughts, I was startled when a voice called out from somewhere behind the stacks of wood. There, strolling towards me was a muscular young man holding pieces of the structure in his arms.
After a few words of introduction, he extended his hand in welcome and explained that he had come down from the Bay Area to volunteer with the disassembling. He then made the mistake of asking if there was anything he could do to help me. At that point—out of nowhere—one of my internal tires must have hit a nail because all the air gushed out in the form of words that exploded into the space between us. Feelings I had suppressed over the previous months poured out in an emotional dissertation. I went on and on about leaving OB, fear of growing older, the cost of living, my job, my relatives in Jersey and building codes in terms of yurts. I stopped only when I finally ran out of steam.
He gazed up at the sky and then down at the pieces of wood in his hands, drew a deep breath, smiled and softly responded. “Well, yurts are meant to be built, and then taken down and moved somewhere else,” he said. Wise beyond his years, he explained how he saw life as being somewhat like a yurt—in a constant state of transformation and renewal. He went on to relate how inevitably a person will land where he or she is supposed to be, and that an open heart and mind will ultimately allow clarity to dispel all the confusion. The important thing, he went on, is to stay true to who you are in the midst of all the chaos.
As we said our farewells and went our separate ways, I began to mull over his words, and think about the yurt and all of us who had enjoyed the space. Although nothing is certain, we do have the freedom and ability to beam ourselves to wherever we need to be in order to do whatever needs to be done—hopefully with some style and grace.
Eventually my class did find a new spot for our practice. Although it isn’t in the yurt, we can still gather to twist ourselves around ourselves, and look for answers to questions that have not yet been asked.
And we will all keep moving forward as one year with all its well-traveled roads ends a new one ripe with possibilities begins—hopefully, in the direction of our hopes and dreams.
As for me, I’ve decided to take the fork.