The impact you make on another person with words and actions, while imperceptible at first, is in fact, permanent. Sometimes we like to think we have the right to give counsel; to tell another person how to live their life, based on our own experience is how we make the most change in the world. False.
The people who enter our lives and are so intensely themselves without apology are the ones that leave the biggest mark. Mean the most. Challenge us the most. Provide us with the opportunity to grow and be a true friend -- or flee in selfish fear.
Tonight, as I created the chalk board art to promote the last class with Todd LaBerge at Atlanta Hot Yoga, the tears that have been lurking for weeks started to surface. I honestly can say that Todd has been the most influential person in my life for the past three years. This month marks when I chose to start practicing yoga to expand my physical and social activities. I took a few random classes and then wandered into his groovy West Coast Power Flow class one late Thursday night in Feb 2011. Afterwards he asked why I wasn't in class more often and I said because I couldn't afford it. He called bullshit and told me I could tidy/clean the studio in trade for his class. The rest is history. For the next three years I stacked blocks, cleaned mats, flipped laundry, blew out the candles, and sweated my way through the most unapologetically authentic yoga practices I could have never expected. Tears during savasana, and giggles alongside my new-found yogi neighbors.
Through his generosity I was able to practice yoga. Through his friendship I learned about communication, forthrightness, and how to respect yourself by requiring the respect of others. I learned how to not put every man in the place of my lost father(s). I learned that no teacher is perfect, and that those imperfections are what makes them better than perfect--it makes them real.
Todd gave everything to his students. He talked about wine and ice cream and football. Even when he came in the door a hot mess he was ok with letting that be part of the class which always ended up, somehow, evolving into exactly what every person needed. We all said hello to our right elbow, or cheered on the Falcons/Niners/Whoeverwaswinninghisfantasyleague during this zen-based practice. We grooved like the ocean and shot arrows of love into the future. Prana washed over our bodies like a waterfall in Tahiti, and we always closed class with the universal sound of Om. But damn, everything in-between all the lovey, gooey, juju talk, was an ass kicking of the "who the hell invented this?!" kind. And for that my dancer joints and muscles are appreciative.
So, thank you, Todd. For everything. For loving me in my brokenness, and believing in me as I pushed through some of the hardest years of my life. You are a truly amazing person and I am so grateful that our paths have crossed. You have impacted the life of everyone you taught in Atlanta simply because you were authentic, caring, and generous with your love of the jo-ga. Especially this girl.
I don't get in the habit of missing people very often. Life is too short. But, I am going to say that your presence will be greatly missed. I guess I have one more reason to visit San Francisco, now.
Until then... every little thing, is gonna be alright.