Years ago, when I was living with an ex, he and I hosted a friend of his for a few days. That friend went for a walk in the park near what was then our place. On this walk, the friend found a wooden figurine of the deity Ganesha sitting on the ground near a bench.
He brought it back to the apartment and offered it to us as a gesture of thanks to us for hosting him. It seemed like a fortunate find—after all, Ganesha is the remover of obstacles.
Fast forward five years. Two of my yoga teachers have moved into a new Shala recently. I got to chatting with one of them, and I asked whether they might like me to bring the Ganesha figurine to the new space.
Knowing that it was a found object, my teacher asked whether the little statue was at all damaged. “Even a tiny crack?” she inquired.
As it just so happens, this Ganesha has always had some little chips and a few tiny cracks in the surface. Pretty natural for a figurine that’s made of wood and has changed hands a number of times.
When I told my teacher this, she shared that she herself had a slightly damaged Ganesha figurine for a while. When she relayed this to her own teacher, he told her that it was very important for her to get rid of the statue.
He said that it was bad energy and ill-fortune to have a broken god in the Shala or in the home. He recommended that she toss it into a body of water—presumably so that another person wouldn’t find it and take it home.
“Does this explain the second half of my thirties?” I quipped.
We laughed. My teacher offered to join me sometime when and if I was ready to part ways with the chipped Ganesha.
I can’t keep up with much of anything lately, so it’s no surprise that I delayed dealing with the broken deity in my home until yesterday.
I’d had a week of terrible stiffness and pain in my shoulder and back. I attributed a lot of it to being crouched over my computer and cooking—when I spend a lot of time chopping and stirring, I can feel it in my shoulder and neck. But I couldn’t help but suspect that stress had a lot to do with it, too.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to the mat yesterday for my practice. I was ready to spend the whole class modifying. As we started to flow, I was surprised to find that I didn’t need to treat my body gingerly at all. The stiffness was already broken up by the time class began, and by the end of class, everything felt better.
When I got home, I realized that it was a moon day. Eager to ride whatever energetic wave had cleared away my physical pain, I picked up the Ganesha figurine and tucked it into the crook of my arm.
I walked it into the park and down to the river. And there, with The Police’s “King of Pain” blasting through my AirPods, I released Ganesha into the Hudson with a gentle toss.
I became little teary as I walked home. There was the beautiful spring day, bittersweet in its loveliness. There was the parting with a figurine that, bad omen or not, had been my company for years. And there was the meaning of letting it go.
I was joking with the wisecrack about my thirties. But these have been difficult years. I’m not looking forward to this year’s birthday, but I’m ready to have this decade behind me.
My thirties taught me a lot of lessons, though, and one of them is that it’s up to me to create meaning and fulfillment in my life. Things happen, people cross our paths. If we’re lucky, we bump into experiences and relationships that enrich our journeys.
But the big stuff—purpose, contentment, connection, joy—it’s on us to seek those things out and to nurture them when we find them.
I had to smile at Sting’s lyrics—ironic, I hoped—on that walk back to my apartment.
It’s the same apartment, by the way, that my ex’s friend brought the cracked Ganesha figurine to after he found it in the park. I’m considering leaving it this summer. It’s been a good home to me, but it has seen a lot of sadness, too, and I think it’s time for a change.
That change, like so much of the change I hope for, will need to come from me.
Speaking of change, I’m hoping that Ganesha’s chipped surface will be smoothed out by the water, that whatever energy the figurine carried in the first place will be transmuted into something new and beautiful.
Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.
I really need to stop bookmarking vegan hot cross bun recipes and actually get around to making one. But in the meantime, these!
These vegan latkes look so crispy and tasty.
A vibrant soba noodle salad.
April’s bounty: new potatoes and asparagus.
Finally, it’s an older PPK recipe, but this tofu “ham” as me drooling.
1. I thought that this image and the story behind it was so touching.
2. Incredible that xenotransplants (non-human to human organ transplants) may be viable at some point in the next decade.
3. Fascinating to reflect on how Covid-19 changed our relationship to smell. I’m very lucky that my post-infectious anosmia was relatively short-lived.
4. I’m a little late to the party, but I found this post to be uplifting, especially since the start to 2022 has been heavy.
Happy Sunday, friends. Can’t believe I’m publishing this post early, for once.
And, while we’re on the topic of endings and beginnings and change: a very happy Easter to those of you who celebrate today. May it bring blessings of peace, hope, and renewal.
I showed up for my morning yoga practice this past Wednesday in a mini-spiral of worry. I’m moving out of my apartment in a month or so. The place is already rented out, and I’ve been looking for a new spot to hang my hat. Apparently, this is just about the worst summer in history to be trying to rent a place in NYC. Rents are especially high, and since lots of folks are moving back into the city, the application process is…
I recently held The Vegan Week in my hands for the first time. It was a good feeling. I’ve joked so much about how difficult this writing process was, how it moved in fits and starts and deadline extensions. In spite of my own floundering, I worked with an amazing team of collaborators, and thanks to them, it’s really a beautiful book. Today in class my yoga teacher said something about the process of taking on a challenge. She pointed out how often…
Happy Sunday, everyone. In spite of the fact that New York City’s first day of spring was marked by snow, the warm afternoon sunlight today is making me feel as though the seasons really are changing. I’m enjoying a quiet day of work at home, and I’ve been taking occasional breaks to catch up on reading and recipes. Here’s what has caught my eye. To begin, a lovely asparagus and pea soup from Farm on Plate. Asparagus and peas are so elegant, and…
Happy December, friends! It’s been a somewhat rocky entrance to the month for me, as the past week was full of personal unrest. I slipped into patterns of behavior that feel like me at my worst—stuff so old and habitual and frustrating to me that I don’t even want to write about it. Here’s the interesting news: I’ve somehow managed to regard a bunch of varied relapses—relapses in thought patterns and compulsive behaviors—with an unusually compassionate and non-judgmental gaze. This wasn’t a conscious…