Poem: “Hokusai says” by Roger Keyes

One of the joys of my work is the interaction I have with students and other teachers.  My world, as a yoga teacher, is filled with creative, eclectic, generous people who are often teetering on the edge of conformity.  Or, they are conforming but in a way that has them making their own rules.

Either way, I am aware that each time I step in and out of a yoga class I am never quite sure what will unfold, who I will have a conversation with or what anyone takes away from class.  I know that I always step away with questions; “Did I pay attention?”  “What did I miss?” is often what swirls around my head.

This isn’t self-deprecating but a line of questioning that always ensures I’m learning more or growing more or, dare I say it without being cliche – connecting more.  There, I said it.  But, connecting or, specifically, finding ways to relate to the people who courageously show up in class to move in ways that are more about non-conformity than any practice I’ve experienced, is why I’ve never woken up with the thought “Urgh, I don’t want to go to work.”

So, one of the exciting things is when I receive a kind email from a long-time student sharing a poem with me.  If I could be paid in poetry I would gladly accept.  He has been coming to the studio, and practicing for years now.  I see him working through his limitations and have seen the expanse of his practice as he gradually found fingers touching his toes.  He’s also seen my growth as a teacher and has stayed with me through all the awkward moments I was finding my own voice.  But, he says “I’ll always remember that first time you told me to pay attention.”

So, always, he shows up.

Always, he pays attention.

His email:

Hi Lyn,

Here’s one for you.

It’s very Lyn, no?


pay attention

HOKUSAI SAYS (by Roger Keyes)

Hokusai says Look carefully.
He says pay attention, notice.
He says keep looking, stay curious.
He says there is no end to seeing.
He says Look Forward to getting old.
He says keep changing,
you just get more who you really are.
He says get stuck, accept it, repeat yourself
as long as it’s interesting.
He says keep doing what you love.
He says keep praying.
He says every one of us is a child,
every one of us is ancient,
every one of us has a body.
He says every one of us is frightened.
He says every one of us has to find a way to live with fear.
He says everything is alive –
shells, buildings, people, fish, mountains, trees.
Wood is alive.
Water is alive.
Everything has its own life.
Everything lives inside us.
He says live with the world inside you.
He says it doesn’t matter if you draw, or write books.
It doesn’t matter if you saw wood, or catch fish.
It doesn’t matter if you sit at home
and stare at the ants on your verandah or the shadows of the trees
and grasses in your garden.
It matters that you care.
It matters that you feel.
It matters that you notice.
It matters that life lives through you.
Contentment is life living through you.
Joy is life living through you.
Satisfaction and strength
are life living through you.
Peace is life living through you.
He says don’t be afraid.
Don’t be afraid.
Look, feel, let life take you by the hand.
Let life live through you.

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