It still comes as a bit of a shock to me, even now, that 20+ years ago I chose to relocate from the solid ground of New England to the Pacific Northwest. I jumped, blind and trusting something I could not name, and I am still here, in the Pacific Ring of Fire. In 20 years I’ve felt tremors while sitting in movie theaters and driving, while walking down streets (did you feel that?!); I crammed into a doorway with 3 other people at The Pike Place Market during the Nisqually Quake in 2001 with the thought, as clear as can be, “This could be it. This could be the end of me.” And after the 2011 quake in Japan, my husband and I started to think, YET AGAIN, of a seismic retrofit for our 109-year old house.

So over the last few days, the seismic retrofit folks have been sawing wood and banging on god knows what and drilling very large bolts to connect the sill plate and the concrete foundation, and bolting the pony wall to the sill of the house. They’ve added plywood sheeting to the walls to make sure that the house is a little more stabilized, yet it can still sway if it has to, it won’t snap. All of this supposedly makes it a little less likely that we will slide off the foundation (fingers crossed here). The thing is, there’s no guarantee we won’t slide if it’s a big enough shake for a long enough time. And if we manage to stay on the foundation, there’s a good chance that many, many things in our home will break: walls, windows, stuff. Still, in the face of the unknown we decided to do something because for us it’s what feels best, and although I hope with all my heart that those big bolts won’t ever be truly tested, I’m glad they are there.

To my not-so-subtle point: although I know this life is fleeting, wild, sometimes-violent, sometimes-sweet, and never-ever still, I want to do my best to stay anchored to a foundation. Slowly, over 18 years of a sometimes-spotty yoga practice, I’ve gathered some tools that have given me, if not yet a bolt-like tenacity, then a tender grasp on steadiness and clarity. It feels fragile and unbelievably strong at the exact same time; at times I look at this practice as I imagine a mother looks at her child — with wonder and a sense of, “I can’t believe you came through me.” Large and small tremors have been testing me over the years, and I feel in my heart that I am sturdy and flexible because this is the result of my practice. Lately, there’s been a big tremor in my community: things I did not realize could break are breaking, dust is in the air, and I’m not quite sure where I will go once everything quiets down. But I know that I will still be here, tethered by a fluid holdfast, and that I will move forward because that’s the only direction I can go.

Many, many thanks to all of those who have shared their wisdom and practices, and to those who remind me of who I am and why I practice.


Posted by: Beth Award

Neighborhood Studios