Going with the flow of turbulent times, means bend don’t break

My husband had a teacher who would notice whenever a student was staring at the clock on the wall, wishing the lesson was over. “Time will pass,” he’d say, “but will you?”

Groan.

This time-lapse, though, of time passing, enthralled me (much more than educators with a cheesy sense of humour.)

Ricardo Lau is always so generous when I spy a gorgeous image he’s created and ask if we can share it here.

I hope that sharing this from Julia’s instagram page translates for you all.

Julia Harvey (@julia_harveyyoga) who teaches yin yoga at the Pemberton and District Community Centre, is the yogi. Ricardo Lau (aka @cardobear) created two separate time lapses with 840 images individually edited and put together for a 30 second video. He said it took him less than a month to create, by which I assume it took a lot more than the minute it will take you to watch it.

I love the juxtaposition of the movement of the clouds and the flow of time, versus Julia flowing so steadily through this range of postures. Her calm groundedness as she moves, while the sky seems so turbulent and stormy… it’s really thought provoking and felt like such good medicine in these turbulent times.

Esther Perel recently wrote in her newsletter:

The tallest skyscraper in the world, the Burj Khalifa, was designed to sway in the wind. Its 206th story, at the very top, bends back and forth up to two meters to “confuse the wind,” as chief structural engineer Bill Baker once said. Most tall buildings are designed to adapt to the sky’s push and pull, perhaps taking a cue from trees, which bend and come back to center again and again. Whether concrete and steel or wood and leaves, these structures bend so that they don’t break. And it is what we humans must do now, too. 

Bending is deeply important to me. Physically, it’s a stretch that awakens the body and expands our edges. It improves our flexibility, agility, and nimbleness. Psychologically, bending is what we’re called to do when we can’t change our circumstances, when we can only change how we react to them. It’s what businesses call “pivoting.” It’s what immigrants have done forever. It’s what I and many others call “adaptability.” And it’s an essential part of resilience. 

How much has our world changed in the last few years? How much have we changed? And of those changes we’ve all had to make to varying degrees, what has been reactive versus proactive? How many of us have felt that standing tall and strong—holding on to our routines and beliefs—were the only ways to have some semblance of normalcy? Did your life stay the same? How many of us felt the exact opposite: a call to change everything all at once—to quit the job, move somewhere else, change the status of our relationships, dissolve into a more malleable form to become someone entirely new? Did you change too much?

Adaptability does not prioritize drastic change over fierce rigidity. Adaptability is the conversation within us between stability and change, between continuity and innovation. It is the marriage of our fundamental needs for security and adventure. Adaptability is our ability to bend and come back to center over and over again, increasing our flexibility each time, whether we’re in our daily stretch or the fight of our lives. And the more we practice becoming adaptable, the more we can tolerate change and harness its power.

I’d like to say that I know the perfect ratio of fluidity and steadfastness to achieve the type of adaptability required to meet this moment. I don’t. It’s easy for me to tell you how much I value Zygmunt Bauman’s concept of “liquid life”—an ability to continuously uproot but still find a sense of belonging that he described as an essential part of survival in our rapidly changing world. I deeply identify with that side of the equation. It’s much harder for me to admit how challenging I find rigidity to be, because I equate it with being stuck.

What has helped me find balance—that special posture of absorbing our wobbles to hold strong—has been re-designing the strongest structures in my life so that they can sway when the wind picks up. I adapted my therapy practice and company for remote work. My supervision group began meeting every week to adapt to the increased need for collaboration and support among therapists. I adapted my kitchen into a stage for a free virtual workshop series. My team and I adapted the prompts I had long used in my office, on my podcasts, and in my talks and turned them into a card game—because play is crucial in learning how to adapt. 

Photo by Ricardo Lau

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