An earthquake, a hurricane, a massage, a yoga lesson, and a haircut

by Rob Tiller

Sunset before Hurricane Irene

We’ve had a couple of unusual disturbances this week. On Tuesday, Raleigh was shaken for a few seconds by an earthquake that was centered in northern Virginia. In my office, it felt at first like heavy equipment was passing by, but it got more intense, and I started to consider evacuating. We seldom have earthquakes in the eastern U.S. We’re used to thinking of the earth as something solid that does not move, and it’s disturbing when it does.

A hurricane named Irene has been heading toward the eastern U.S. for several days, and finally hit the Outer Banks of N.C. this morning. We get hurricanes here from time to time, but this one has caused more than usual worry. In 1996 when Hurricane Fran hit our area, trees snapped in two in my yard, and the storm left us without power for days. Ever since, I’ve taken hurricanes seriously. At the moment, we’re getting light rain and gusty winds.

Meanwhile life goes on, with chores and challenges. This week I was particularly conscious of being part of a pleasing network of humans, including some who helped take good care of me, with some vivid moments of connection.

On Monday, I got over to Hands on Health, where Meredith had agreed to come in on her day off to give me a deep tissue massage. I’d anticipated that all the driving to, from, and at Road Atlanta would leave me with a tight neck and back, which it did, and that Meredith could help, which she did. She was cheerful and chatty, but deadly serious when it came to knotty muscles. There were some intense and difficult moments, but I left feeling wonderful.

On Wednesday, I had my first individual yoga lesson with Suzanne. I’ve taken one or two “early bird” classes a week with her for the last year or so, and have gradually come to really trust her. My main objective in taking an individual lesson was to make sure I had sound mechanics for my head stand and wasn’t about to hurt my neck. I also wanted to understand more about increasing my flexibility. Lately I’ve gone to a few advanced classes, and found them fairly humbling. There are certain things they do that I just can’t do.

Anyway, Suzanne helped me adjust expectations and feel better about where I am, as well as improving in some areas. For head stands, she taught me how to find the top of my head and where my weight needed to be. We did some bending and twisting, and talked about how you can have too much of a good thing. Although it looks good in class to have loose joints, as she does, she noted that looseness brings with it more risk of certain injuries. I also got her guidance on what to do with my mind during savasana. I’ve slowly come to really value yoga’s insistence on relaxation as an integral part of class. At the end of the session, I felt tremendous gratitude, both for Suzanne, and for my good health and well-being.

Because of the Road Atlanta trip, I’d missed my regular monthly haircut with Ann. She invited me to come in after work as her last appointment on Wednesday. Ann’s been cutting hair for me, Sally, and Gabe for many years. It’s always fun seeing her. She likes to talk, and we have great chats about our families, cars, restaurants, travel, and sports. As usual, I left looking better, and smiling.