Sunday, June 5, 2011

behind, looking ahead

Just returned from my weekend yoga recertification seminar. Right now I'm channeling that Whitman quote to the nth degree. Physically tired from traveling, but my mind is racing. Inspired and defeated. Happy to be home and itching to move again.

I've fallen behind in the Trust 30 writing challenge. Not that it matters much to anyone but me.

I probably shouldn't write when I'm tired.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

trust 30, day two

Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

Poor rabbits of the First, they've been drowned by rain.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

switching gears

Today's prompt:
We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.

1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes.
2. Write the story that has to be written.

If I am honest (and that's the one trait I have and will always have), I will not spend my last fifteen minutes writing a story. If I know my time is limited, I will be doing... something.

First, I throw all the phones off bridges. My phones, at least. You cannot get a hold of me. You are left with whatever memories you and I last shared. I hope they're good ones, but knowing me you can still hear my booming voice swearing up a storm between your ears, and watching my figure speed past you in some capacity.

The laptops follow the phones. Both of them: home and work. if I go down, I take you all with me.

How much time is left? Is it enough to offer up Clare de Lune to a trustworthy and deserving person? She has been the trusty steed, if you will, for nearly five years now. I let Elvira rest because she had no front brake and I wanted to preserve the bad knee, but at this stage of the nearly-over game it's time for a reunion.

Perhaps ridding myself of the phone was impulsive. I can just imagine my mother sobbing now, knowing we'd never see one another again. No last hug or kiss or kind word from her youngest child, her black sheep, her troublemaker. My father would be more stoic, of course, but I know hearing the news of my passing will affect him in ways he will attempt to dismiss.

I climb aboard Elvira and suffer up the steepest hill in town. I love her because I built her with my own hands, but she kills me before my time is through thanks to her inefficient gearing.

I want to find that one sweet spot that affords me the best view of the valley. It makes the suffering climb worth it. I know I complain about my adopted hometown but it's this view, and others like it, that keep me sane. I deserve this, after tolerating so much bullshit from so many confused people.

I feel like I'm supposed to be sad, but I'm not. How many hours, days, weeks have I sat in silence trying to muster up something resembling emotion for everyone who left me behind? It took years to cry over all that loss. And now as I face the one big loss, I have no tears. If anything, it feels like coming home.

If I sit to meditate I lose the view. I do it anyway. A few last salutations, and then back on the bicycle. One final, brakeless descent.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

mid-life crisis

Keeping time as we humans do, I turned 36 on August 15th. This previous year had not been kind to me, and an acquaintance with a fascination for things psychic and predictive told me (a mere three days before my birthday, and during a very serendipitous encounter) that 3-6 means good fortune. Dear sweet baby Jesus all swaddled in your manger: I hope she's right.

I've been home for a day and a half from what I coined EPIC BIRTHDAY VACATION, which included vast amounts of amazing and high-level roller derby, consumption of enormous quantities of vegan victuals, mass socializing with loved ones and three whole days on the Bonneville Salt Flats during Speed Week. Oh, and lots of backside soreness due to riding in the mister's 1931 Model A Ford pick-up. I felt maddeningly alive, in positive and negative ways, during the epicness... only to return home to the same old malaise, even though I have yet to set foot at the studio.

Backing up a bit: it might make sense to point out that ever since I started my young adult life as a nomad, I've never called any one place home for more than a few years at a time. In all fairness I did log nearly a decade in the Boston area, but in two shifts. My five-year tenure in Ashland marks the longest stretch in one place since my formative years in Queens. I've gone against my nature to set roots in this small town, mostly on account of that foolish thing we call "being in love." Coming home from EPIC BIRTHDAY VACATION (yes, it always deserves all caps) made me realize that maybe love isn't enough to keep me here.

While walking to the grocery store earlier I pondered the idea of experiencing my own mid-life crisis. For a change the timing actually fits. I used to joke about such things in my late teens and early twenties, because back then I had myself convinced I'd be six feet under well before 30. Oh, ha ha. But now it makes sense.

So I guess it's time I bought myself a fancy and expensive road bike (my equivalent of the little red sports car) and hit the road. Again.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

to be or not to be an asshole... that is the question

Many moons ago, when I pretended that pursuing an expensive secondary education might have some merit, I found myself immersed in a world full of self-righteous trustafarians. They directed their youthful zeal towards anyone forced to listen, and anyone who erroneously did not toe their party line. I recall an attempt at a quiet evening with my friend (and comrade in the struggle against parent-funded self-righteousness) Will that was interrupted by one of said trusties trying to out-vegan me. I hate when that happens now, so imagine my fury back then before recovery and yoga. My instinctive response was to very loudly and deliberately point out to Queen of the Vegans that the Guinness she was drinking wasn't vegan. This sent Will into paroxysms of laughter. Once he caught his breath, he said to me, "I got it. You're the gadfly."

I like the American Heritage dictionary's definitions for gadfly: a persistent irritating critic; a nuisance; or, one that acts as a provocative stimulus; a goad. And I liked Will's nickname for me so much that it stuck, and to this day I have a beautiful rendering of a fly I'd like to use as a tattoo.

What's this got to do with the price of tea in China? Pretty much everything.

When you mention you're a yoga teacher, in most circles someone will imagine you wearing flowing, earth-toned garments (perhaps with some excessively beady jewelry) and that someone will likely assume you're some kind of a mellow chanting type who only wishes the best for all beings. That someone would be about one-third right.

The longer I teach yoga, and the longer I pursue the idea of a spiritual practice, the more I realize that we've got it all wrong if we're assuming that yoga and meditation should lead to everyone getting all quiet and zen, man. Because some of us are born to be assholes. Or gadflies, if the coarse language offends.

Meditation isn't supposed to be easy. If it were, everyone would do it. (In a perfect world everyone would. But I digress.) If one can find a morsel of peace in the insanity that is our world, one's got one up on just about everyone. Part of that insanity will come from folks on your journey, or the ones you look to as teachers. Read enough of the books and you'll learn that Buddha and just about every monk following him acted like total pricks a lot of the time. Because you're supposed to know the answers already. If you're asking me, you're asking the wrong person. All I'm going to say is, "Really, dude? You don't already know?"

Doesn't that make me an asshole? No. It makes you distracted. Cut through the bullshit and see through the haze, and eventually you'll discover that you arrived at this school called Life with all your textbooks in hand and all the tools you need. You are your own best teacher. Give yourself time and space to pursue your study. Eventually I just fade into the background like the buzzing of so many insects.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

cruel summer

It's been a while. Teaching pretty much non-stop, since it's summer and that means everyone else's needs come before mine. In a way this is good because this gives me much to meditate on, and plenty of distraction when things do not go smoothly. Long stretches of teaching affect my practice, however, because it means I teach instead of practice with others, and I have to rely on myself to lead my own practice. Often easier said and intended than done.

We lost one of our beloved hens in May. I don't think I ever wrote much about our birds on this blog, but for some reason my fellow decided that our country life would not be complete without some country critters. He met a chicken who needed rescuing, and last year we took Carolina Chicken (also known as CC) into our home and hearts. (For reference: she is the hen on the right in the photo. The other we call Ninja.) Our faithful pit mutt Natasha somehow learned to love sharing us and her land with CC, and the two became fast friends.

This would explain why, when CC fell ill, our Natasha suffered as well. Tashy was creeping past sixteen years of a full life, so she certainly started showing signs of age well before CC's illness. I had to take note, though, of her melancholy when her hen pal began acting lethargic. We treated her illness and saw some improvement and a return to vitality... for a short time.

One morning we awoke to the sounds of Ninja squawking more loudly than we'd ever heard. The only time we hear such sounds, we know we've got an intruder on the premises. Except this time Natasha accompanied the ruckus with whining, crying and pacing.

The mister went outside to find our CC dead.

Neither of us humans expected to be so moved by the loss of a chicken. The mister openly wondered what it would be like when we had to let Natasha go. We tried not to think about that very real inevitability.

Natasha never really recovered from the loss of her henpal. We knew these two unrelated species somehow got along famously, but we had no idea how much they'd bonded. Tashy's walks went from already shortened to nonexistent, as she seemed to lose all energy.

An unexpected visit from out-of-town friends brought two more dog pals into the mix. We could catch little glimmers of the old spark in Tashy's eyes as she held court for her guests... only to spend the entire next day after their departure asleep in her bed.

That night she woke us with cries, again. This time she needed to go outside, but was unable to lift herself up on her own. The mister and I accepted what had to come next.

Luckily we had a vet friend who made house calls. The next day we were able to say goodbye to our best canine friend in the comfort of our own home, on one of her favorite blankets. The mister had never witnessed the loss of a loved one so directly, which made it all the sadder for me. It's already hard enough to watch someone you love die; watching someone else you love in pain only compounds the suffering.

Some days are better than others. Just like in one's practice. The postures might be the same but the body and mind are different. I can feel sun on my face as I try to dig out of my hole. Perhaps soon I can get back on track to living the more examined life. Until then, I'll keep breathing and missing my friend.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

working for the weekend

Last time I sat on my couch typey-typing a new blog entry, the Mr. and I had the television tuned to Thursday night awesome. Hmm. How time flies when you're busy. Teaching solo for three days in a row left me with little time or desire to write. Friday and Saturday both, I had scheduled my days in such a way, I left myself with no free time between classes. In a way, that's kind of "whatever" since once upon a time I used to pull something like a 9-to-5. It's also kind of good, because movement and busy-ness leaves little time for feeling sorry for myself or doing stupid shit. But it also means no time to write, or think, really.

Lots of stuff came up during the course of my teaching marathon. Except I don't feel much like recapping it now. I just want to rest up for the week ahead.