Holly Golightly Takes a Yoga Class

If the real-life Anne Spice has a fictitious counterpart, the distinction goes almost incontestably to Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany's. While Audrey Hepburn did a lovely job immortalizing the character, I'm partial to the original version of the girl found in of Truman Capote's novella. The Miss Golightly he created would have slapped, not stayed with, any sap who had the gall to say "you belong to me." Nor would his Holly have forsaken a new adventure in Brazil for a sedentary life in New York with some ho-hum writer, she would have deemed it a disgrace to lay waste to such a perfectly good free plane ticket.

But for all of the real Holly's carefree brazenness, there is a part toward the end of the the book, just before she jets off for South America, when she catches herself in a moment of fear about living her life through fits of compulsive flitting.

She says, "I'm very scared, Buster. Yes, at last. Because it could go on forever. Not knowing what's yours until you've thrown it away."

I shared this distressed mindset of Holly's when I arrived at my yoga class a few days ago. I'd had a strange conversation before I got there. Not with a pathetic sap, but with a guy who makes most others look like pathetic saps in comparison. If I'd stayed in one place, ever, there'd be no need to have a conversation about distance and all the logistics of it. But of course I never do, and there we were, our once-strong connection so frayed by the adverse time difference that I didn't even have a clear idea as to what he was getting at, or where he was going with the phone call, but it didn't sound optimistic.

I hung up feeling like once again I'd jeopardized something worth having, essentially thrown it away, not intentionally, but by virtue of the way I live my life. I felt like running. I'm good at that. I reluctantly went to yoga instead.

I've taken up bikram, otherwise known as "hot" yoga, while here in London because it's one of my lifetime goals to become one of those serene yogi fanatics. Ironically, yoga is pretty much the antithesis of everything Holly. Bikram especially, is about working through endless repetition and keeping still through a series of balancing contortions, which is none-too-easy when one is slippery with sweat thanks to the one hundred degree heat.

I was having a lot of trouble during that afternoon's session. I was in flight mode, but I had to stay put. More than once the instructor called me out to correct my posture, or to tell me I was balancing on the wrong leg. But I couldn't focus. All I could think about was how, for the umpteenth time, I'd flitted myself into a corner, and I wanted out.

This runaway train of thoughts went on, despite my stationary stance, for over an hour. Then, while coiled in something of a fetal position, the instructor, who rarely says anything that isn't relevant to doing tree pose or the like, started pleading loudly in front of the entire class with a a woman who was getting up to bail from the toilsome sauna.

"Oh please, don't go," he said. "You've only got ten minutes left! This is just when you left last time. Don't go. Stay! Breathe, sleep, whatever. But if you go now, this is when you'll leave the next time, and then the next. You'll go through your whole life not knowing what happens in the rest of class!"

Everyone laughed at the absurdity of the notion. I laughed along with everyone else. But then the relevance and truth of what he'd said came into sharp focus. My thoughts stopped. I sat, curled up in my ball, utterly stunned.

He was right. I've left and I've left, and I haven't stopped leaving. Time after time I've deserted a pressure cooker in preference of fresh air, unapologetically inhaling the coolness of a new untainted experience, grateful that I've cast off whatever it was that I've left behind. It's never phased me, gallivanting from one situation to the next, so easily creating one leaveable life after another, perpetually game for the escapades unknown. But for all of my insatiable craving to conquer uncharted land, staying is my terra incognita. The instructor's beseeching had resonance; if I keep this up, I might go through my entire life having no idea what happens in the proverbial last ten minutes of class.

With renewed interest in tending to my technique, I finished out the remaining poses and guided breathing, which actually tends to be the most enjoyable part of our yoga practice, swelling with a resolute calmness. In the rapturous relief of those last sweltering minutes, I realized I really didn't want to run at all, I was far more enamored with the idea of being steadfast. The thought of making it beyond that point where I normally withdraw was suddenly the scenario possessing the most intrigue out of the infinite number of other unknowns. I left the studio committed to devoting of myself what was necessary to get there. I wanted to find out what happens when you stay.

Perhaps this yoga class signals a turning point for my inner Holly Golightly. The fact that I've unearthed a new-found willingness to persist down a path where I would normally do an about-face bodes well for other aspects of my life. After all, it is believed that even Capote's beloved drifter eventually happened upon a place that she was more content to inhabit than to abandon; surely there's a comparable African hut for me somewhere.


Bob said...

Sounds like you had a break through in your life.Charleen the new reporter covered a Hot Yoga class last week.Whelp Kathy is gone so Dave and Brent are the last of the orginal crew.Sounds like there is alot of you in everyone here but I guess that is the journalists life.I really enjoy reading your blog you are a very talented writer. Bob

anne spice said...

Oh Bob, bestill my heart, you are so sweet. I'm so glad to hear you enjoy my blog! Yes, most news people do suffer from a severe case of wunderlust, but I hardly qualify for the label of "journalist" these days. Please give a warm hello to everyone in the newsroom for me!