Saturday, July 11, 2009

Disillusionment Gets Pointless and Boring (After a While)


...back in the summer of 1959, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a bunch of kids were kicked out of a swim club on account of their skin color...a move defended by the club’s president, on the basis of concerns that they would “change the complexion” of the club...

...oh, wait...turns out that was the summer of 2009, in my home town of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

...meanwhile, in India, consensual same-sex relationships have at last been decriminalized...but not without controversy...including some very vocal protests from an extremely popular and highly influential guru, Baba Ramdev...

...who, as it turns out, is one of the country’s leading proponents of...oh, good god...yoga...

Sittin’ in a park in Paris, France, reading the news and it’s all bad,
They won’t give peace a chance, that was just a dream some of us had...
Joni Mitchell

...West Mt. Airy (State of Gentle Inebriation, USA) is somewhat famous for how easily it integrated...it also happens to be in Philadelphia...the city where I was born and never wanted to live again...and wouldn’t have had it not appeared absolutely necessary two years ago....a friend said Mt. Airy seemed like it might be a cool neighborhood, so I found it on a map, took the infamously dangerous-though-lusciously-scenic Schuylkill Expressway to the even more dangerous-and-lusciously-scenic Lincoln Drive, then followed signs and parked in what appeared to be a deserted neighborhood...looked around a bit, feeling somewhat lost, before this young guy came along with sticks in his hands, drumming on air to music on his headphones...I asked him where I was...he asked where I was trying to go...I said I was thinking about moving to the area...he said I probably wanted to go a little further up the road, the way he was going...ending up having a lovely conversation with him for seven or eight blocks....a bit later, walked into a coffee shop called the High Point Cafe...the woman behind the counter asked what can I get ya?...I said I was more a prospective customer...thinking of moving to the area...she said you should definitely move here and started writing down names of apartment buildings and giving all kinds of advice until a long line of customers stretched out behind me...even though I wasn’t even buying a cup of coffee...and I thought wow...I do wanna move here...

...and, once I did, got back into the yoga thing...something I’d started and then stopped some years before...as many people do...but this time more seriously...started getting in with the serious yoga crowd...which made me nervous...suspecting they’d stop being so nice as soon as they found out I didn’t pretend to be happy all the time and wouldn’t use The Secret to wipe myself....as it turns out, though, that hasn’t happened....for that matter, when I started this blog, was actually kinda semi-looking forward to passive-aggressively nasty comments from self-righteous and dogmatic yogis disapproving of my attitude...and yet, the rare times the on-line yoga crowd criticizes me, it’s generally for being too hard on myself...

(...on top of that, in the past week, got blog awards from Tonya at When Life Gives Me Lemons, I Have to Take Prozac and a shout-out from Melinda, as well as a kind and badly needed reminder from Brooks that it's been five days since the last Yoga for Cynics post...)

...point being that, yeah, things are fucked up all over...including racist swimming pools and homophobic yogis...but, after a while, disillusionment gets pointless and boring...there’s really no need to choose between being a lobotomized Pollyanna and that guy dressed all in black and scowling at you over his dog-eared copy of L’Etranger on the subway...it’s possible to see, point out (in blog posts and elsewhere), and even act on things that suck without being dragged down by them....

...a special namaste to black kids in Philly who want to swim and all the gays and lesbians in India...

13 comments:

Mark said...

Wow. Neither cynical nor strange. (And I use both of those terms in the nicest way, as I think you know.) And I hear you. Disillusionment is pointless and boring.

Lydia said...

I so loved the ending of this post. Enjoyed the heck out of the whole read, which actually addresses something I've been practicing in my own life, not being dragged down by all the crap out there (and I agree that if there's crap The Secret shouldn't be too far away.

the walking man said...

http://hihidi.blogspot.com/2009/07/teach-your-children-well.html


Here is a less cynical non yogic approach to that particular situation for your passive aggressive side.

Sidhe said...

I couldn't agree more. Thanks!

Deborah Godin said...

To acknowledge but not be dragged down by the sucky stuff is a good point. There must be the opposite side of it, too; something about being high-happy, but I'm just not sure how to describe it...

Maggie May said...

i love your profile description...that's my kind of doctor

earthtoholly said...

Firstly, drjay, congratulations on your award and I'm glad you were nudged...I was ready for a YFC fix!

Think I know what you mean about pretending to be happy...I've done that for most of my life and have it down pretty well, if I do say so myself. "The Secret to wipe myself..." hee-hee-hee

And that incident still makes you wanna pee (or worse) in that pool and make the club prez drink it... (I'm so bad---feel free to delete, if you'd like...)

Aggie said...

Life sucks and then you die ... 'tis true for most ... but I'm still amazed at the number of bozos out there who actually try and make it worse for others, just 'coz they are having a crap time in life themselves. The whole neighbourhood should go pee in the pool. Lol!

Chaos said...

Not one to indulge in mindless optimism (it seems difficult to ignore most of what's going on in the world), but I do have to say that yoga, well, evens me out. I leave my cynical self outside of the studio, and the mat becomes my inspiration. Namaste!

Carl

www.10000vinyasas.com

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Hey thanks for visiting the pictoral blog and top points for getting the Talking Heads reference!

Munch was such a strange bloke

What's even stranger is how many people use religion, or in this case yoga, to reinforce their own personal hatreds

Melinda said...

Jay, I was so totally shocked and saddened about what happened at that swimming pool in your city. I found it hard to believe that this could happen in what is supposed to be a more enlightened day and age.

One of the things that kept me from trying yoga in the first place was that I didn't feel that I belonged to the 'yoga crowd'--as silly as that sounds. I thought I'd look like a noob and I was also afraid of not being truly enlightened enough. I used to feel this way in almost every situation though--like an imposter. It wasn't until I started talking to other people about how they felt that I realized that we all worry about such things.

It was both gratifying and relieving to realize I am not nearly as unique as I think I am! :)

Melinda

Brooks Hall said...

Thanks, Dr. Jay, for this provocative post! This, along with a confluence of other things fueled a post over at my blog http://brookshall.blogspot.com/2009/07/wher.html

...And I'm glad that my reminder was welcome!

RB said...

I love this. Basically, I spend all day telling myself that there is nothing good in my life right now, but if I can not be miserable about it...voila...one good thing.

I feel like that's what we learn doing really hard yoga poses. Chill out, breathe, be aware of what's good and bad...then blog about it.