Saturday, February 25, 2012

Playing With Blocks

...all we can really experience, or be truly aware of, is the present moment...the right here and right now...like all those yogis & Buddhists’ll tell ya...(when they’re not going on about past lives or India)....but, at the same time, like any neuroscientist can tell ya, it’s actually impossible to be aware of or experience the present moment...the brain doesn’t work like that...by the time you’re aware of or experience anything, it’s already past...


...spent last Saturday on a weekend bed-and-breakfast yoga retreat way up-state...(I’m now proud owner of a pine-scented eye-pillow...seeing how much I was enjoying it, someone commented that I’m becoming a metrosexual...I said I’d probably have to stop buying my clothes at EMS to make that happen)...woke up for the first of three awesome, healthy meals with good friends, morning yoga class, a couple long walks along the creek and a climb to the top of a mountain (overlooking the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania...which, admittedly, could fit, along with the Grand Canyon of New York at Letchworth, and the various grand canyons of other eastern states, into a small side canyon of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado in Arizona...but is lovely nonetheless)...(see pics)...restorative yoga class, and a post-dinner-and-red-wine Thai massage....and it occurred to me that this really wasn’t a day I could complain much about...


...with the women at the rehab, I focus mostly on GED preparation and literacy, but now and then, with someone more advanced in her education, get to work with creative writing and journaling...encouraging letting-loose on the page, freeing-up the creative voice...almost invariably resulting an empowering and enjoyable experience, for everyone involved, when we see what blossoms on the page....but it’s also a difficult, and often daunting, frightening process...giving what can seem a terrifying concreteness on the page to thoughts one would like to push away, no matter how consistent and inevitable the failure to do so...requiring encouragement, gentle prodding, and understanding from the supposedly more-together teacher-person....and, ultimately, it's all about honesty...

...I haven’t written anything this week, she said, head hanging low....that’s okay, said the teacher, neither have I...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cold February Drizzle, and a few of my favorite things


...driving through cold February drizzle...went to the bank to make a deposit...which, in itself, represents a certain modicum of good news...and the teller asked what plans I have for retirement...I smiled, said probably living on the streets...she smiled back, choosing not to pursue the subject...

...then was at one of those box stores...not gonna identify it, so you won’t have an opportunity to tell me about its evil labor practices, destruction of the environment, and/or support for frighteningly right-wing politicians/horrible record on GLBTG issues, etc....I know what a horribly un-conscientious consumer I am...and knowledge is the first step toward wisdom...or something...or not....anyway, was buying socks...got lots of ‘em, barely any match...and those that do have holes in ‘em...call my socks what ya will, they ain’t unholy....these are the jokes, folks....and a voice came over the loudspeaker announcing that another register was opening, so would the next customer in line proceed to......but, turns out, that led to some disagreement between two customers ahead of me, each at least thirty or forty years old....it went something like this: what the f&*&, b*&@?!...it said next person in line, a&*&)%#!!...f*+% you, b)%$#!!!...you’re a *^%$#!!!!...your mother’s a &*^(%^$#!!!!...my mother’s good!!!!!...I KNOW she's good!!!!!......

...headed back to lovely, organically-grown West Mt. Airy, state of Fiscally Sensible Lovingkindness, U.S.A., and my local coffee shop...where Yoga for Cynics posts are born...noting a pickup truck parked right out front with a blue plastic ballsack hanging from the rear bumper...

...last week, recovering from flu-like symptoms, struggling to focus, drinking too much coffee, and doing my best to ignore the endless scandals of the yoga blogosphere, was watching some old Woody Allen movies on DVD...the sublime Annie Hall and the not-quite-as-good-and-kinda-disturbing-particularly-in-light-of-later-events-yet-still-gorgeously-filmed-and-generally-brilliant Manhattan, in which the protagonist, near the end, raises the question, typical of a Woody Allen character, of why life is worth living, before concluding: Well, there are certain things, I guess, that make it worthwhile, followed by a list...

...and so, on this dreary day, thought I’d give a brief list of my own, just off the top of my head:

...John Coltrane playing My Favorite Things...
...biking along Wissahickon Creek...
...floppy-eared dogs...
...the way the young woman at the homeless shelter who told me she loves Walt Whitman smiled when I quoted him...all truths wait in all things...at the beginning of Tuesday night's yoga class...
...Haruki Murakami...
...Bob Dylan singing she said your debutante just knows what you need, but I know what you want...
...Virginia Woolf...
...an intense practice leaving me feeling like I’ve been to Jupiter and back...
...Bill Murray...
...Jorma Kaukonen...
...Joan Miro...
...successful headstands...
...red rock canyons...
...Vincent Van Gogh...
...Hamlet’s description of deep depression, beginning I have of late but wherefore I know not lost all my mirth....
...the frozen mango margaritas at that place down on Passyunk, especially when it’s nice enough out that I can bike home...
...Sufi grinding...
...a deep pigeon pose...
...that first cup of coffee in the morning...
...Light in August...
...the way Carrie Brownstein pulled off all those classic cheesy rock-hero guitar moves without irony when I saw Wild Flag play this past fall...
...long phone conversations in which nothing of import is said but much is communicated...
...Miles Davis’ solo a couple minutes into Shhh/Peaceful...
...Joni Mitchell singing Free Man in Paris...
...Beethoven’s 9th...
...Gabriel Garcia Marquez...
...The Brothers Karamazov...
...Joe Strummer singing it's up to you not to heed the call-up, you must not act the way you were brought up...
...mindfulness...
...solitude...
...friendship...
...compassion...
...kindness...
...orgasms...
...you...
...the coffee I'm drinking right now...
...Jon Stewart...
...Flannery O'Connor...
...Apocalypse, Now...
...The Big Lebowski...
....Casablanca...
...Keith Richards...
...Billie Holiday...
...people calling out my name and enthusiastically waving across the room though I can’t see who they are because I just took my glasses off just before yoga class...
...sudden surprising revelations I get while peddling...
...and laughing about all the rest...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Van Gogh Up Close


...on a grey and almost-rainy Groundhog Day, unable to work in more than dribbles in drabs...under-stimulated by a mild winter, yet overwhelmed by matters I won’t go into, here...decided to take a chilly bike ride downtown, ending up stopping in at the turn-around point, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, surprised to find out tickets were available on an early Thursday afternoon for the new exhibit, Van Gogh Up Close...

...walking in, felt a smile opening somewhere inside on seeing Sunflowers...followed by a colorful intensity of old boots, clouds, lilies, wheat fields, raindrops, blades of grass, hay bales, tree trunks and muck....thankfully, security was lax enough I didn’t get in trouble for peering so closely at glorious gobs of paint sticking out from the canvases...receiving quiet lessons in the seemingly limitless possibilities of paying attention...of stopping for just a moment to take in just a smidgen of the full experience of whatever happens to be directly in front of oneself at any moment...of simply seeing...

But never mind, I think I am not going to urge you too much to read books or dramas, seeing that I myself, after reading them for some time, feel obliged to go out and look at a blade of grass, the branch of a fir tree, an ear of wheat, in order to calm down. So if you want to do, as the artists do, go look at the red and white poppies with their bluish leaves, their buds soaring on gracefully bent stems. The hours of trouble and strife will know how to find us without our going to look for them.
Vincent van Gogh (Letter to Wilhelmina van Gogh, Saint-RĂ©my, 2 July 1889)