It was only six when Andy opened his eyes the next morning. The thought that he could lie in bed for at least another hour was very comforting. For the first time in a long while, he felt like he had gotten a full night of sleep, and yet he had no desire to start the day. It was a perfect opportunity to begin practicing his yoga. He straightened his pillow behind his back and tried to get into a cross-legged posture. It was not as easy as Sarah made it seem at the café. He locked his legs up tightly in position but was unable to hold the posture for more than five seconds. No matter how hard he tried, he could not attain the comfort level to allow him to concentrate on breathing and relaxation. By the time he was finally convinced that his bed was not the ideal work platform, he realized he had spent more than half an hour trying to perform the simplest task. His back was sweaty and sore, and he got the sense that whatever he was trying to do was not working. If he had any doubts about taking more classes, now his mind was made up; he certainly needed the guidance.
On the way back home that night, he picked up a training kit at the sports shop. He was determined to give the sitting Buddha pose one more try, but by the time he was through with all of his schoolwork, he was so tired and couldn’t think of anything other than going straight to bed.
The next morning his internal body clock woke him at first light. He forced himself out of bed and dragged his feet out to the balcony off his living room. He took a deep breath in and stared at the bright stars that still filled the pre-dawn sky. The moment called to resume his exercise. He placed his new mat on the floor between the living room floor and pulled out Mozart’s Requiem from the CD collection on the shelf.
“That may be a little too dark,” he said staring at the dreary illustration on the Deutsche Grammophon insert, but it didn’t keep him from putting the disc in the player. He hit play, lowered the volume so the music was barely audible, and sat on the mat. He tried to use Sarah’s posture as reference, but as he struggled to get his legs crossed and his knees flat on the mat, he figured he would have to settle for a more compromising position. After another short struggle, he managed to get his legs crossed but his knees pointed towards the ceiling and his back limply dropped forward. Placing the back of his palms on his knees seemed pointless, and yet he felt like he had to do it just to prove to himself that he could. He was far from comfortable in that position, but in his mind, he was convinced he was doing the right thing. He took a deep breath and stared at the wall clock, reminding himself to empty his mind from all thoughts in an ongoing mantra. By the time the minute arm on the clock completed a full cycle, he felt as if he’d been locked in that position for hours.
“There’s no use,” he said. He got up and watched the first rays of sunrise paint the dark sky with mellow red strokes through the open balcony. He felt it was too late to continue now that the darkness around him was melting away. He picked up the mat and turned up the volume knob just a notch, so he could hear the slow moody string progression, and then he walked out to the balcony again and filled his lungs with the chilled air of a clear early morning. He dropped the mat on the cold floor and sat on it. At first, he thought that a good-morning cup of coffee would be perfect for the occasion, but the fascinating view of the sky changing its attire in preparation for daybreak was so astounding, he could not abandon his seat for even a second.
He was completely oblivious to the fact that he had naturally sat himself in the position he struggled so hard to get into only minutes earlier. It wasn’t exactly the “Meditating Sitting Buddha” posture that Sarah demonstrated at the Tibetan Café two nights ago, but it was certainly a proper position for a meditating sitting Andy. His legs were folded inward but did not cross with his feet facing and touching, his knees flat on the mat, his hands clutching his ankles, and his back stretched up with a backward slant, leaning against the brick wall all in the most natural and relaxed position. He started breathing deeply, slowly without thinking about it. The only two things his mind was conscious of were the Requiem that was quickly climbing to a hair-raising climax, and the cosmic celebration of the breaking dawn unfolding right before his eyes.
The funeral mass that played through the speakers inside the apartment started to fade out and give way to the sounds of a new morning. It began with a frail chirping from afar and rapidly picked up its vigor with every awakening creature that joined the living choir as the fire of creation lit the clear blue heaven. Without moving a toe, Andy felt like he was crossing a tunnel. On one end, there was darkness, night and death, and at the other, bright light, morning, life. He felt the energy that was fueling the waking city all around and through him. He closed his eyes. He did not need to see nor hear the marvels of daybreak, he felt it inside of him, and in the midst of the morning breeze, he became one with it.
When he opened his eyes, the red ball of fire was in clear sight on the horizon, and the morning sky was bright and crisp. “Oh my God!” Andy said when he realized that he’d been sitting there for nearly an hour, and suddenly all that had happened before he closed his eyes seemed like a hazy dream.
Breaking away from his workflow for a lecture at the yoga center was a tough call to make, knowing that keeping a strict schedule was the only way to make progress with his research, but when he stared at the pile of papers mounting on his desk, the fresh memory of the morning’s blissful experience pushed his “trivial” responsibilities down the priorities list.
The lecture was held in the same room where he took his complimentary class. There was no incense burning or flickering candles and no exotic music playing in the background, just one short, bald instructor seated at the center front, whose soft calm voice filled the room for a full hour, and left Andy with a strong desire to commit to a daily routine with new discipline. When he got back to his apartment, he took a long look at a fresh copy of the season calendar he was given at the lecture, and before he turned back to his busy desk, he resolved to do all that he could to squeeze at least one weekly class into his schedule.
It was 10:30 Monday night when he checked his wristwatch. He broke away from the computer screen, shocked to realize that two days had just slipped by.
“Oh no!” he slapped his forehead with the palm of his hand, realizing the deadline to cancel Sarah’s invitation had just expired. Now he had to trade his weekly at Pat’s for a night at the opera. He figured he had to let his friend know.
“Hey bud,” Nate’s voice cut the third ring. “Is it the dream again?”
“What?” Andy responded with some confusion, “No! It’s not the dream. There is no dream!”
“So what’s up?”
“Just making sure we’re on for tomorrow.”
“Tomorrow’s Tuesday. So yeah, we’re on. Why?”
“There’s going to be a slight change of plans. We’re going to a concert.”
“Tchaikovsky at Symphony Hall. Well,” he paused, “actually it’s a ballet, so make sure you’re dressed properly.”
“You mean wear tights?”
Nate’s angry voice amused him. “In any case,” Andy laughed, “if you can swing by me after work, I’ll drive us there. We’ll have plenty of time to get a drink around here somewhere before we head over.”
“I don’t know, man. Jan’s keeping a tight leash these days. She’s not going to like it if I’m home too late.”
“Well, tell Jan that that I’m taking you to see her sister perform.” A short silence followed.
“If that’s the case, I’m sure she’ll give us her blessing,” Nate said. “What time should I be there?”