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Remembering an Age of Innocence

Me, Playing in Vasona Park in 1974

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion." - Albert Camus

When I look at the photograph of me at 4 years old, running through Vasona Park in Los Gatos, not a care in the world (or a shirt on my back), I see an innocent freedom there. I really didn't know any other way. My parents raised me to notice all moments, to make a song out of suffering and to work hard at being happy.

From the stories my mom has been willing to share, I understand that it was challenging to be that carefree, to trust that everything would work out and to not worry when it didn't.

Don't get me wrong: there was darkness in those days. Uncertainty has a tone and tension that I learned to identify early on. I listened for the rumble of it in my parents' voices and under the surface of my skin, and I knew when it was time to leave their sides and find a safe place. But there was also so much joy in simple acts and my memory is flooded with a mixture of light and dark.

Earlier this year I agreed to train a group of yoga teachers how to develop, organize and produce a yoga fundraiser event. I guess since I've run 2 outdoor fundraiser festivals at Vasona and another multi-studio fundraiser here in the area, I have a few lessons to share. At the beginning of the process, the group voted for a theme: Summer of Love. Catchy, I thought at first. Yes, we could really build some fun into this night using that theme. But the more I let the theme soak in, the more I realized how significant this message was and still is.

We are looking at a particularly nasty presidential campaign this year. There are horrors committed in the world every day - against people, animals, the planet - and with social media hungry for them, we scroll through these images amidst posts of food preparation and vacations. One of the most difficult aspects of my work when dealing with people who have cancer is seeing how they must weigh the cost of treatment against the cost of living in the Bay Area. Yoga, though it may be a significant factor in their well-being, is considered a "luxury", and I know that if it cost them to attend classes, many of them would not be able to be so consistent in coming to class.

It's all enough to make my hippie heart grow cynical and hard.

So when I was reminded of this theme of love, it brought back some of the ideals that were taught to me as a child growing up with innocent counter-culture ideals.

We all deserve to be free of suffering.

We are all connected.

Together we can change the world.

I invite you to take a moment to remember an innocent time when you believed you could make a difference. Maybe that was last week, but for most of us, it might have been a few years ago. Remember what that feeling is like in your mind, body, breath. Yes, the world feels very screwed up at times, but together we can do things to make it better... Remember?

Join me on Sunday, June 26 at Breathe Los Gatos for the Summer of Love fundraiser for cancer survivors. Sign up online today. Thank you!

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