Everything Could Be So Light and Easy

Julia Uding
05.04.2016
 
Everything Could Be So Light and Easy
It was the beginning of September with nights turning cool, and we drove into the woods. I was looking forward to the starry night sky the most. Way out where we were going you could still see them, the stars. I often missed them in the city.
We arrived and our log cabin on stilts offered: nothing. Merely a bare wooden floor. No water, no electricity. Wonderful! To get settled before dark fell, we had to hurry: took the bedding and food quickly up the creaking ladder, rolled out the thermal mats, waited for them to fill up by themselves, spread out the sleeping bags. Us on top. Sunset mood.
We woke up with backaches. Stretched. And then: outside! Moss under our shoes. A long hike ahead. The woods: a roaring see of green. Under the trees there already were rust-coloured leaves. The ground seemed to cushion our steps. The leaves rustled in the wind, sometimes almost angrily.
I felt my head grow lighter. With every step I left work, colleagues, family, friends, apartment, errands, worries and the daily routine behind me. The monotonous movement distracted me. Step, step, step. Left, right, left, right. Foot, foot, foot, foot.
Then my thoughts reared up suddenly: “How far did we want to go actually? Shouldn’t the lake be nearby now? Certainly after the next bend. Uh, still more woods. Then behind the next bend. The one after that. Behind that bush there? Isn't that something shimmering over there?”
At some point my thoughts calmed down again. But just as I had begun to enjoy it, we were there: on the shore of a glittering, lambent lake of cold silver. On a large stone near the edge we took a break. Cheese, apples and tea were better than any 5-course meal.
Soon the wind began to blow, sending icy hands under our jackets. Let’s go back! As everyone knows, the return trip is always shorter. We were back in time to see the sun still shining on our cabin. Even though we were nearly frozen just before, we were keen to take a dip in the pond directly by the door.
The courageous one first! Jump in! Snorting, splashing and slapping our skin to stay warm. I wrapped my legs around you to feel a little warmth. And then later, again: the starry night sky!

***

Back in the city everything was so flashy and colourful and bright and waving and screaming and so apparently full of possibilities as always. But in my head a mantra kept repeating itself: everything has to be much easier. Much more natural, realer.
I had noticed how little I need to be happy. Only air and light and water and you. Silence that I could drown in. Greenness, in which I can bathe. And every now and then a slice of home-made hazelnut bread.
And so I was sitting, back in my office. My colleagues asked me how the weekend had been in the woods. As I was telling them, I slowly began to lift off of my chair. I was floating! When I noticed this, I faltered – hopefully no one will notice! Fortunately, back to work, and my colleagues left before noticing anything of my condition.
I grasped the seat of the chair desperately and tried to pull myself back down. But it didn’t work. What should I do? Because I couldn’t think of anything better to do, I went back to work.
A short while later I had practically forgotten the floating from earlier. Maybe I had even sunk back down a little. Then I remembered the thoughts of the woods again, and – whoops! Not only my heart, no my whole body lifted up a bit.
I gradually began to panic. Clients would be coming any minute! And they would also be passing my office. Quickly I jumped up to dive at the door. That turned out to be much more difficult than expected. Floating, my feet did not touch the ground and I couldn’t do anything. I floated back down to my chair, and I pretended that I was working while I was really sending silent prayers to heaven, in which I didn’t believe.
“And here sits our … Ms … What is up with you?” My boss was speechless when he saw me floating.
“You are flying!” a client exclaimed the obvious.
“I’m sorry, I really don’t know how …” Again I tried with all my might to pull myself back down to my chair. Failing.
My boss and the client stared at me for a few seconds.
“Perhaps it would be better if you went home?” my boss suggested eventually.
“I gladly would, but – how?” I tried to stand up to show that my feet did not touch the floor.
Then our client had a brilliant idea. He placed into my arms a thick pile of folders. They were heavy enough to bring me back down.
“Not bad!” my boss said, turning to the client.
I mumbled a thank you before removing myself from this impossible situation.

***

Back home, I was floating in the lotus position when you came home from work. Your bag fell jangling on the floor as you crashed into the room and called out, “Wow! Do you notice that? You are floating above the floor! You are enlightened!”
“It’s been like this the entire day. I thought Yoga would get me back down, to no avail.” I straightened up and showed you that I just kept on floating.
“What happened?” you asked.
“Nothing actually. I just had to think about those woods and our weekend together and remember how easy and light everything can be, life and all …” I stammered.
You pondered briefly and then said, “Okay … then think about how everything is not so easy, but actually pretty hard, pretty heavy.”
“And … it is so heavy because …?” I couldn’t really answer this. A cabin without anything except light and stars and trees and you beside me would be enough for me. How can life be difficult and heavy?
“Because we cannot just live in the woods. Because, because … we would miss pizza at some point. And you would miss shopping! Because there are no yoga courses in the woods. And our friends and family would not come with us. Because we don’t want to freeze in winter. And in the summer, a refrigerator is way cool to have. Because conveniences demand a few sacrifices. Because we have bills to pay and have to go to work to pay them …”
You listed many other things as well. And every reason, like small weights on my shoulders, caused me to sink little by little until I stood again, my feet planted firmly on the ground.

Translated from German by Shan Wardell
 
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