A teacher friend once said to me, write a little day, without hope, without despair. Turns out she was quoting Karen Blixen, also known as Isak Dinesen, the Danish writer who wrote fiction and nonfiction, including Out of Africa, a complicated, lovely memoir. I find myself approaching my mat with the same attitude. This isn't flowery or lovely; it's not the sweet, life-giving promise that the rhetoric of yoga often is. But it feels accurate, an honest reflection of my experience: often the practice feels regular, informative, somewhat interesting, and on days when I succeed in a posture, even joyful. As often, though, I feel distracted, fretful, confused or insecure.

The work, and the blessing, is in showing up. To the page and the mat. My body will be stiff or open, heavy or light; the words will be effortful and dry or liquid and supple. But all I can do is show up. I show up, without hope or despair, and I do the work.

Outside a Spanish mission in Northern California, 2006