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.


Anonymous said...

rock on. i cannot meditate. also, i don't think if i could, it would be good for me. i need to scream, curse, blow my Vuvuzela at people, get into fights. life is not worth living to me if i could meditate. how in fuck would i release my thousand-year-pent-up anger? and so, i'm one of THOSE people.

anna said...

I feel like I've said this to you before, but... I used to think I was one of those people, too. But the truth is: meditation doesn't necessarily make you quiet as much as it makes you more effective, dig? I actually feel like I have more energy to fight and scream now that I meditate than I did when I was just misdirected energy. Plus it's a myth that meditation releases or eliminates anger. That's just a fake, squishy, Gwyneth Paltrow-esque interpretation of meditation.

Anonymous said...

Whatever works, right? But also may I point out I don't have mis-directed energy or anger. My targets are clear. Har.