Thursday, January 7, 2016


Ava and Hugh 2005
It began with a plea - a simple desire- an attraction to something beautiful that you break open and out comes good stuff.  “Mom, I want a pinata for my next birthday,” declared my young son.  That’s how all this started.

Wanting to fulfill my child’s desire while at the same time provide a lesson in home economics, I went to the garage to gather the supplies:  newspaper and plaster of paris.  I needed balloons, too.  Those could be found in my Yoga bag.  I use them when teaching the breath to children.

A deep inhale -- a complete exhale, it took several breath cycles to fill 2 balloons.  My children and I then spent the next 30 minutes quickly coating the balloons with strips of newspaper slathered in white goop.  We had to work fast because the plaster of paris hardens like a heart broken one too many times.

It took 3 days to make the hard shell around the balloons.  Each thin layer of newspaper needed to dry at least 24 hours before the next coat.  By the third day, the children were not as interested in the process.  I spent the time smoothing, coating, and thinking.

Here were two balloons filled with the waste product of my body.  It’s called apana in Yoga.  Around the “garbage” that I exhaled, I was constructing a firm, thick, hard shell.  Often this is what we do to our bodies.  We keep the bad stuff inside, maintaining a thick exterior, a “thick skin.”

As I dipped my hand in the plaster of paris, gathering more junk to smooth out the newspaper wrinkles on the balloon, I realized we also soften the rough edges on our exterior body -- masking the junk, the anxiety, the stress, the pain, the guilt, the sadness held inside of us.

The children did help me paint the pinatas - bright orange and yellow - sunny, happy,  up colors.  We decorated them, just like we adorn our bodies with feathers, ribbons, and sparkles that glitter in the sun like a cubic zirconia - pretty, but not quite the real thing.

The balloons were still inside hidden under the exterior gloss.  After nearly a week, one was pretty much deflated, a lot like the interior self gets when the bad stuff stays inside too long.  It’s as if our hearts and souls shrivel.

The other balloon was still fully inflated.  Amazing -- all that yucky stuff was still inside.  Poised with a sharp pin, my daughter took aim and popped the balloon.  Could it really be that simple?  What does it take to let the garbage out?  A sharp, quick poke?  What brings about that kind of transformation?

The reason we hear a loud sound when a balloon pops has to do with the air moving quickly and the molecules colliding.  Think of it as a mass exodus.  Like making the pinatas, once we pop the balloon inside, there’s now room to fill the empty vessel with treats, goodies, and surprises.

On a sunny, blue sky afternoon, children gathered in my backyard.  Our homemade pinatas swung from a glorious Live Oak.  Eyes covered by bandanas, sense of sight lost, hands wildly swung bats through the gentle breeze.  There were many misses.  A few strikes that were not quite hard enough.  Then, CRACK!  The exterior masterpiece, carefully crafted over time, molded, shaped, smoothed, and decorated - blew away in the wind.   And spilling out -- the sweet stuff!  The goodness inside flies out across space - hands reach and gather, craving deliverance, drawing sustenance.

It was only a pinata, yet we touched another soul.

Copyright 2005 Lisa A. Long