On December 31 last year, I woke up in Bangkok and went to bed in Singapore.
In the morning, I went for a run in a Bangkok park, where, like everyone else, I stopped and stood in solemnity when the national anthem blasted over the loudspeakers at 8 am, as it does every day. I ran back to my hotel through empty holiday streets, past temples, feeling lucky, free and joyful.
I landed in Singapore just as night was descending, ate a simple street meal and wandered with extremely well behaved crowds down to Marina Bay. Realizing I didn’t want to hang around in a squished crowd (unbelievable to think of, now) for three hours until the fireworks, I wandered back toward my hotel. I had a gin and tonic at the UR-colonial hotel Raffles, and then went to my room at 10 and did Adriene’s “transition” yoga series.
Just before midnight, I went up to the roof of my hotel. The lovely concierge had urged me to join the rooftop party, despite not having paid for it. Someone handed me a glass of bubbly and I watched the most spectacular fireworks in the world, complete with drones forming a countdown clock. I danced two dances and went to bed. Content, tired, optimistic, grateful.
In the morning, I took the yoga mat that came with every room in the boutique hotel out of its cunning little drawer under the bed and went back up to the now pristine rooftop and did a full Yoga Mala, 108 sun salutations. Every one focused, attentive, present. Infusing 2020, the new year, with intention, gratitude, presence.
My last two workouts of 2020 were, like most of 2020, completely virtual. Workout #449 for the year was a long-planned feat of riding 105 km in Zwift, the epic 25 laps of the volcano. It took me three hours and three changes of shirt. Workout #450 — my goal number — was Alex’s virtual superhero workout, the movement community that has kept me sane this year.
As we started our workout, Alex asked us to reflect on the year. “What are you proud of?” she asked. “Maybe it was accomplishing something new like a handstand, or maybe it was showing up when it was hard. I’m proud of choosing fitness that actually resonates with my body, not exhausting myself trying to do something that doesn’t.”
I reflected on that as I moved my zwift-sore body into the mobilizing lunges we started with. I thought about those 450 workouts, each one a bead on a long steady prayer to stay strong and resilient and centred through this wildly unpredictable year. Runs in Singapore and gym workouts giving way to virtual strength classes, filling my living room with weights and bands and mats. Achieving crow pose for the first time, handstand pushups. Yoga with Adriene and Chi Junky online, and out of my own head. Distanced walks, alone and with local friends, spotting luminescent hearts and community art all around my neighbourhood. A summer spent more outside, gratefully, runs and longer bike rides and spinning in an alley. Two weeks sojourn on Salt Spring Island on my little folding bike and on my feet, rolling over and climbing hills. Then back inside, grateful for my prescience in ordering my bowflex spin bike on Labour Day, more Alex, more Adriene, more alone time.
Those movement beads on my internal prayer were all about resilience. When I move my body, I find joy and strength. When I zoom into Alex’s classes, I situate myself in community. When I push myself to head outside into the wind or anxious streets, I’m reminding myself to breathe deeply, find embodied pleasure. Moving every day has been a somatic practice of being, being with what is, whether it’s hard, unexpected, joyful, difficult, easeful, delightful, accomplished, devastating.
By moving my body every day, I navigated 2020 with some grace, a sense of adaptation, a sense of the absurd that served me well. I couldn’t have predicted any of this when I infused the year with those 108 sun salutations — but that movement, that practice, set me up to absorb whatever came.
What are you proud of about this year? What are you writing for 2021?
Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who will be seeing in 2021 at a cottage near Algonquin Park.