A few hours ago my friend Rachel drove away. Several of us shared one last meal at a favorite Ethiopian spot before she headed to Michigan to start her new job.
Rachel has been a pillar of Balance Yoga Atlanta for much longer than I have practiced there. Her dedication to her practice and her love for our community is inspiring.
As I make excuses to stay in bed on Monday mornings (the Walking dead ran over), Rachel is there when the shala doors open. Whether 3 people or 15, she is there, in the front, doing her practice. Her practice, the practice she needs to do for her with no judgement; just simple dedication.
I met Rachel over 4 years ago after I started practicing Ashtanga yoga at Balance. The first time we had a real conversation was at a shala community potluck. Overweight, probably drunk and with a thick Southern drawl I felt out of place at a yoga vegan potluck. She noticed and was kind enough to start talking to me.
When I "decided" to stop drinking on Jan 1st 2017 I did not know Rachel well, but at a point when I needed support the most, she simply starting being there.
I put "decided" in quotes because originally I only committed to a few months of not drinking. I had practiced for three years , and I could barely make it through half primary series, and I was perpetually injured and sick. I hypothesized not drinking for a few months would allow my body to heal and build strength. I knew I need to stop drinking completely but was afraid of that commitment.
It didn't occur to me that Rachel cared about me and my sobriety until one weekend after a hike she posted, "Finding ways to keep Butler Raines sober. Today's activity was a 3 hour hike at Arabia Mountain."
Since then we have been on many hikes, ate many brunches and had many conversations about life. She is always there encouraging me to practice yet reminding me to take the rest my body needs and to not judge myself for any of it.
Why she decided to care so much and take the time to help me I don't know, but I know I am sober today, and I am a better man because she did.
I look forward to practicing together again soon.