"Hey now, hey now. Don’t dream it’s over." ~ Don’t Dream It’s Over, Crowded House
It’s cherry season.
I know this because beautiful bags of big white cherries have appeared, front and center, at all the markets, and for some reason this season I can’t seem to get enough of them.
I first noticed the cherries when I was visiting my son a few weeks ago. He had us over for brunch, and because I can’t ever show up anywhere empty-handed, I brought a cactus plant from the local market, along with a bag of cherries that I had noticed near the register. He set the cactus on the sill in the sun, and, when the eggs were done, we sat down to a feast with a bowl of cherries as our centerpiece.
The next week I was visiting again, and more cherries appeared. This time they were waiting for me in my daughter’s refrigerator, a welcome sight when I arrived at midnight! I had a few before I went to bed and then again late the next night, when we sat down to a bowl of them in front of the television.
I reached in and happily took one. The cherries were so beautiful that they didn’t even look real.
“Some people say that life is like a bowl of cherries,” I said.
I had to say it! I couldn’t help myself! But then I had to confess that such a statement sounded as pretend as the cherries appeared.
“Real life is really about both the good and the bad,” I told my daughter. “And, when it’s not so good, we have to remember that once it was, so that we can have faith that it can be again.”
This might be easier said than done. It’s been an emotional time. Our faith has been tested, and every day we’re doing our best to pass this test; but, still, faith has been hard to come by.
Passing any kind of test takes practice. That’s why as students we study. Growing up I was always a good student. I knew how to study, and I studied a lot. I was also on a dance squad, and I loved the daily practice. But, other than that, not much else that I ever did required much practice.
But then came yoga, and for the first time in my adult life I found something at which I had to practice. And I’ve discovered that I’m the same dedicated student as when I was younger, only this time the studying doesn’t seem to end. There is no final test.
“Practice and all is coming” is a famous saying that has taken me a long time to figure out. It’s by Sri K Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga yoga, and it was years before I could make any sense of it. What was coming? And how would the practice of yoga bring about whatever that might be?
All I knew was that I needed to practice. And, as I did, something surprising happened. Somehow I found my faith without ever even looking for it! Apparently, that was what was coming, and practicing yoga had brought it about. And I think it happened because I kept showing up, over and over, for a practice that’s never over.
And so now I’m trying to draw on that faith and share it with my daughter, because hers was abruptly left behind, when her reality was suddenly undermined. I’m trying my best to share with her that she has to practice something, too. She has to practice showing up for herself. And she has to do this every day, even if she doesn’t know what’s coming, or how showing up for herself might bring about whatever that might be.
This is also something that might be easier said than done. As with any practice, it will take some time, for healing is a journey with its own timeline. And it will require patience, too, because some things can be just too big to comprehend. It can be easy to lose our bearings and wind up worrying about what’s real and what’s pretend.
Recently, I learned that the subconscious mind can’t always tell the difference. In fact, that’s why visualization and meditation are such effective practices. With these techniques, our imagination is powerful enough to make real physical changes in our bodies and our brains!
And so I think it would only stand to reason that, if our imagination were that powerful, then we could also use it to practice remembering. We could remember how real things were when we thought that everything was okay. And, if we could practice that, then perhaps we could imagine the same for ourselves again someday.
During my visit, my daughter and I decided to go to the city to shop and meet her brother. But the local subway stop had shut down for the weekend, and so we ordered a car to make our way over. Halfway there, the roads became so crowded that we found ourselves sitting in standstill traffic, right below what turned out to be a giant sign from the universe!
Above us was a billboard that featured a great big picture of a cherry. And we sat under it long enough for me to look up at it several times. I felt compelled to re-read the words that spread across the sign. And, of course, they were the same each time:
“Just one cherry on top!” it read.
I was about to point it out, but my daughter wasn’t looking. She was pointing in the other direction to a subway stop on the corner. “Let’s get out,” she said. “This car will take forever, and that subway stop is working. We can get to the city from there.”
My daughter has a sense of direction that I do not, and so I didn’t question her. Instead, I looked up at the sign once more and then followed her out the car door. And when we reached the subway steps, it suddenly occurred to me what that billboard sign had meant.
That sign confirmed what I had told my daughter just the night before. It was saying that life doesn’t have to be a bowl of cherries for us to have good things in store. On the contrary, promise can be found in just one cherry.
One cherry at a time will do us just fine.
But, of course, believing in messages from the universe is a practice, too. And that’s why it’s so important to build our faith. Faith makes it easier to see the signs. And it also helps us face the risks involved, because sometimes when we practice, we can come up against other challenges, too.
That sign was also a good reminder that practicing doesn’t always have to be done in very big ways. All is still coming when we can practice the smaller things that can feed our souls each day. Such things can be done by something as simple as getting some rest or going outside to take in some sun. For me, moving on my mat is as good as any cherry on top, and so is something as small as finding a good subway stop.
A few days after I returned from visiting my children, I was settled in back at work. My desk is in a corner spot, and so I get to see lots of people throughout the day. On this particular morning, three young colleagues came around the bend, before they suddenly saw me and stopped. One of them held out a bowl.
“Would you like one, Anne?” she asked.
I leaned over and looked inside and couldn’t have been more surprised! The bowl was filled with cherries!
I reached in and happily took one. “Thank you!” I said.
“That’s all you want? she asked. “Are you sure? You should take some more!”
But of course it was an offer that I had to decline, because I had seen that universal sign. And so I just smiled and shook my head.
“No, thank you,” I said. “Just one cherry this time will do me just fine.”