“What would you like in your tea?” I asked brightly. My friend was standing in the doorway, rosy-cheeked and doused in snow, shedding layers of clothing and what appeared to be the start of some tears.
She unburdened as she un-layered; her gripes bearing zero resemblance to typical Bostonian blizzard gripes, like parking bans, power outages, and being forced to subsist without access to a favorite coffee shop, yoga studio, or gym—with the exception of Equinox members because that place will not close for anything. Heck, I’m beginning to suspect the National Guard runs the posh health club. Either that or the spin instructors power the place with special bike-generators in the basement. [Disclosure: I teach there].
No, my friend’s woes were gripes of the heart that just happened to occur during a blizzard, and they would have stung just as badly had it been mid June and balmy. In other words, love does not give a shit about the weather. That much is certain. If you’re in love, you’ll kiss in a thundershower and not even notice you’re getting wet (um, hello, The Notebook).
If you’re brokenhearted, you can sidle up on a sunny beach in Bali, and the blue sky will taunt your gloomy mood.
“Ummmmm, vodka?” answered my friend. I had to hand it to her. She was in the midst of a breakdown, but her humor was still decidedly in tact.
What could I do? I don’t drink vodka, let alone keep it in the house, and here I was in the midst of making healthy pancakes, with oats and cottage cheese. They’re delicious, but they’re not exactly conventional comfort food, and they’re definitely not vodka.
I didn’t even have any maple syrup in the house. What kind of inept, hippie version of Martha Stewart was I? The woman needed something to take the edge off, and all I was peddling was stiff black tea and rolled oats.
Thankfully, a third friend was present, who knows a thing or two of heartbreak and frustration and shedding layers until your life feels lighter and freer. So, this friend chimed in. “You have to surround yourself with the people and things that nourish you, and the rest will fall away. It just doesn’t matter.”
Our wise friend left soon thereafter, and I sat with my tea, nay vodka, drinking bud over breakfast as she thawed, cried, and composed herself. Later, she piled back on her layers, readying to brave the cold again and remarking that our friend must be right.
“I’m going to write that down,” she said, taking out her iPhone with a gloved hand. Outside, the elements were waiting, with waist-deep snow and inevitable parking wars between neighbors. Inside, we knew that this too shall pass—the storm, the heartbreak, all of it. It’s the only thing of which any of us can be certain: change. Buddhists call it impermanence. Yogis honor it by practicing vairagya or letting go.
And, just as snow melts, so, too, do chilled and broken hearts. Focus on the good stuff, and what doesn’t feed you falls away. Let it go. Set it down. Watch it melt. Shed the layers until you feel lighter, freer, and refueled for the walk back home.