Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Really, Really Loaded Questions....


...though it’s absolutely meant as a compliment, yoga teachers don’t seem to like it when I say you fucking killed me with that shit at the end of class...though a person can't possibly be born to new possibilities without dying now and then....

Finally, I got it: a heart that is open to the world must be willing to be broken at any time. This brokenness produces the kind of grief that expands the heart so that it can love more and more.
Stephen Cope

...one time in college, I was feeling pretty down...not sure if my heart was broken, or if class work and the endemic to college ever-present threat of not-being-smart-enough was weighing me down, or if it was just another wholly ephemeral case of late-adolescent angst...though it could’ve had something to do with the people I hung out with...one of whom I ran into, a globally-thinking person I’ll call Alice....she asked how I was doing, I said I was feeling down...and she replied, with a contemptuous smirk, yeah, I bet a straight white male has a lot to be unhappy about....I knew some really lovely people in college...but, then, it seems like it’s difficult for most of us sometimes to get the point that compassion actually means being kind and empathetic—rather than something where, when you expend a bit on the oppressed of the world, you gain scorn credits to dump on those closer at hand....

I think it was Diogenes Laertius who told the story about a philosopher who studied for three years to rid himself of all passion, paying money to every man who insulted him. When his period of study was completed, he stopped giving out money, but the habitual skills remained with him: one day he was insulted by some ignoramus, and instead of setting about him with his fists, he began to laugh. ‘Well, did you ever,’ he said, ‘today I received for nothing what I’d been paying for three whole years.’
Victor Pelevin, The Secret Book of the Werewolf

...sometimes I help recovering addicts through practice GED tests....I hate that standardized test crap, but sometimes the best you can do is teach people the stupid rules needed to pass, including the rule that use of imagination and originality should be avoided....anyway, there are these essay questions: write six sentences about your family...write two paragraphs about a goal you have....meant to be innocuous, no doubt, for the average suburban teenager, but really, really loaded questions for those with so much trouble behind and only the most desperate hopes ahead....so, they write about staying clean, about not going back to jail, about getting a job, about getting custody of their kids again...in a nutshell, wanting to live...
...and, when ya think about it, what better goal could there be?

16 comments:

saveyoursoul said...

what a great post. you DO write really well.


At least I know that there are others, optimists perhaps in writing and pessimists in life.

jb said...

DrJay thanks for dropping by and reading my story. It's really snowy here and cold these last few weeks but I love winter so it really dosen't bother me.

I also am a big yoga practionary and pilates it keeps me healthy and focused. I have been doing yoga now for about 4 years. I was introduced to it when i hurt my back 4 years ago and my relationship came to a crash. It saved my life I swear to you. If it wasn't for yoga i don't think i would have recovered as well and it helped me through my depression from the break up.

Everyone should try yoga at least a few times it is one of the best things you can do for your body and your mind.

Take Good Care
JB

Rhiannon said...

"Compassion actually means being kind and empathetic". Good statement.

Through the years I've discovered that when a person makes hurtful comments back to someone who just spilled their guts to them..and became "vulnerable" for one minute..well, it's more about that persons issues then the other person that's hurting.

I read a simple little book once all about people they call "invalidaters"..they invalidate most people in order to validate themselves. Bizarre but true. It's all about control issues, denial and such..and I remember in this book towards the end it states that if you are reading or read this book then you probably think you are "Not an invalidater". Then it states that in some ways we all really are invalidaters...it just depends on how far we go with it on a regular basis. Some are very twisted with this problem, so bad that they hurl insults on a regular basis like it's nothing..and must control everything in order to constantly validate themselves. Pretty sick.

I've also discovered that some people are just not comfortable with the thought of others suffering..they need to get rid of the uncomfortable feeling it gives them..so they deny and pretend nothing is wrong...and make hurtful comments that are just totally mind boggling! Because when they do this they get rid of that uncomfortable feeling..by throwing it at back at the ones that hurt. I learned this long long ago.

My father once found out I was in the hospital years ago and somehow he had gotten through to my hospital room and called..I picked up the phone..he yelled and screamed at me telling me off about "nothing"...I laid there with tears in my eyes..and said nothing..I had nothing to defend. I was wondering to myself why I was laying there listening to such crap and why had I not hung up. So, right before I hung up I did manage to say something..I said very gently "do you feel better now dad"? He shut right up and I hung up. I had not heard from him in many many years when I had received that call from him. It's how my father and my mother both are..it's nothing new. Knowing they need help has always helped me get through those kind of situations.

You touch a lot of people with your wisdom. I'm always for the "underdog" because "I know"..

Thank you Jay,

Rhiannon

Lana Gramlich said...

Having once been in pretty desperate straits (& having ended up happy, at last,) I will hope that they surpass the goals they have today.

svasti said...

Limits only hurt, generally, because often we forget we have them. But the more we can open, our limits decrease. Offering more freedom all round.

No one has the monopoly on grief or pain. And I wonder if that girl - Alice - really understood her own? Everyone feels pain, and everyone deserves compassion.

Everyone.

And whilst your recovering addicts have had it tougher than most, admittedly, perhaps they get it better than others. They want to live - really live.

Many of us, with our less explosive histories still feel our pain but live a kind of half-life of numbness, suburbia, consumerism and mundanity that passes for existence, but really, is sometimes just a mask for the great confusion of not knowing who you are, or how to find out.

There's something about intense emotional pain and trauma that kinda forces you to come to terms with all of that. And so, suddenly, your answers to seemingly mundane questions aren't so mundane any more...

the walking man said...

"wanting to live...
...and, when ya think about it, what better goal could there be?"

To not be killed by that shit sounds about right.

Seeing Eye Chick said...

When you are living a life like that, there are no small innocuous questions.

I am not an addict, but I live in a similar modality. There is no small talk in my world. It makes it difficult to socialize. The rest of the world is angry at me and them at times for the sin of TMI. of Going too deep, of diving when most people prefer wading.

But what do you expect of a soul that has or still is harrowing hell? This is the root of spirituality right here. Where one grasps the beauty of living, of the constant of impermanence, and the delicate balance between deep meaning and random ridiculousness.

Linda-Sama said...

love the post and love the S. Cope quote. I had the great fortune to spend 10 days with him and other great teachers at a retreat at Spirit Rock in California. He's brilliant.

Aggie said...

I like the idea of our suffering leading to an expansion of the heart. Sort of makes some of it feel worthwhile instead of freeking pointless. Simple goals keep it real and are likely to be achieved. I hope so for them anyway.

skepto said...

...I'm also besieged with so many questions in my head that I couldn't figure how and where can I get some answers. very insightful post!

setyourselfonfire said...

Wow i have no idea how you find my blog. (How DID you?) but thanks for dropping by!!!

Always good to get the feedback :)

Have a great day. Your comment made me laugh!

Kim said...

I love when you talk about the GED kids. It just puts so much into perspective.

melissa said...

I like what Seeing Eye Chick said. That very much describes me. And my social interactions can be fraught with anxiety and weirdness if you catch me in a particularly profound mood.

I feel for those recovering that you speak about, and I sympathize with the heaviness those questions must make them feel.

That quote by Stephen Cope is also one of the best things ever. So true. I've already learned how true. Thanks for posting it.

Janet said...

I was giving myself a hard time for being broken hearted, what's the big deal, so what if the person you love doesn't love you? people are losing jobs, starving, without a place to live...blah blah blah, and my teacher said: don't compare your pain to someone else's. what you have is what you have to work with.

and so it is for the students you work with. my guess is you are a bright spot of hope for them.

Theresa H. Hall said...

Ooh. Helping others is such a rewarding thing to do and the feelings you are blessed with are the kind which stay nearby for a good long while. Can yoga help me to lose weight? And is there yoga for those with arthritic knees? You may shoot me an email. Thanks.

Brunhilda said...

Wonderful quote by Cope. I've found it to be very true as well.