The Ups and Downs of Progress

Snake Labyrinth by Patricia Black

There is a moment where you think you’re past the worst, where the sun begins to peek through the clouds and the lights finally seems to be returning.

Then everything turns to shit again.

This past week in Boulder has been miserable; sad, heavy snow-rain and a chill that began to devour me from the outside in. I was sleepy and melancholy, prickly and sarcastic, and sick of being fucking cold.

Yesterday, the sun came out.

I woke up at the crack of dawn, finally feeling rested and content. I had energy and a good breakfast and a good workout. Then worked a good double and came home and slept well.

A completely 180.

Progress, integration, expansion, development–these things are never linear. As hard as we want them to be, as much as we want to sprint toward the clearly marked finish line ahead of us, lungs bursting and legs aching, it’s just not a straight shot.

The path is winding. It is serpentine. Both treacherous and idyllic, hellish and arcadian. It is sweet spring air in bedsheets, and a gut-dropping phone call.

It was best described to me in my prenatal training, when Katie showed us a picture of a circular labyrinth to describe the birthing process. The center is the birth, and the path takes you so close to the center–you can feel it, you can taste it–then veers you away again.

But it is not a maze: a labyrinth is unique in that there is one path, and as long as you keep going, you will eventually reach the center. The labyrinth is innately feminine in the quality of perseverance and surrender it demands. In every step, she whispers another secret.

My ritual is not daily or perfect. Sometimes I’d rather sleep than meditate. Sometimes I’d rather curl up in a ball instead of move my body. Sometimes I forget to thank the directions in the morning or say prayer before a meal. The songs slip my mind and I do not want to teach class on some days. Sometimes I drink or eat or exercise more than I need to. There are days when I cannot feel Spirit, and miss the connection.

I am still moving forward. I am still closer than I was yesterday, no matter how it feels right now.

We are not really wandering away from center–even when the path seems to take us further away, we are actually closer. It is necessary to move further away to get closer.

How enraging! How infuriating that we are not a steadily ascending line plotted between two axis. Getting to your happy weight, running a marathon, learning to knit,connecting the Divine, deepening our intimate relationships–we crawl up, slide back, crawl again. A journey through muck. Sweet, worthwhile, passion-igniting muck.

She is there, in the center, sweetly calling to you. Her beckoning fuels you when it seems the darkest, when you seem the furthest away. Such is the labyrinth: you are closer than you were yesterday. You are closer with each breath.

signaturetransparent raquel alexandra


…for obvious reasons:



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