If you are a yoga teacher, or have been in a yoga class at any time in the last decade, you well know the sound of a metal water bottle crashing triumphantly to the floor, the sacrificial divas of lost balance and forgotten edges.
About three months ago, after Savasana, I started saying, “Be careful of what’s over there, but roll over to your right side.”
I figured it was worth a shot to remind people, not of where the edge actually is, but to consider where it might be.
The day before Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, Henriette Caillaux, the French Prime Minister’s wife, was acquitted of murder four months after she shot and killed the editor of Le Figaro newspaper, Gaston Calmette. Her exoneration was donned as an explicable crime of passion, an act of sacrifice on behalf of her husband’s honor, and of course, due to her condition as a woman, emotional instability.
The story dominated French news and shared front page space in the newspapers with the Archduke’s demise, of which set in motion all the wheels that turned toward global panic and outright war.
When World War 1 began, the French populace had been distracted for months with the sensationalism of the Caillaux drama.
We are not new to distraction or media sensations. We, as humans, are easily excitable even when we think we’re focused on the most incredible, indelible, and important story at hand.
I read about the precedence of the Caillaux story in reading a narrative nonfiction book on the life of Claude Monet, who himself was wrapped up in the drama and did not see the outset of war as a realistic possibility. A man of means, when the war did break out, he was mainly concerned with rations of meat, alcohol, and gasoline in order to fund his lifestyle of breakfast wine and canvas-buying jaunts.
Of its own accord, the Caillaux trial is fascinating and strangely relevant. Only when it is placed in the context of history does it sound more like trivial, dangerous, self-serving news coverage than a comment on the legacy of patriarchy.
Which begs the question - where are we distracted now?
Even if we are not careening toward outright disaster, which seems highly suspect if not generously optimistic, what of all the optional disasters is it exactly that we will crash into, head-first and with all the warnings we’ve read about, only below the fold?
It’s been three months, and zero water bottles have crashed to the floor. I know it sounds dramatic, but I teach an average of 18 classes a week, so it is, actually, dramatic. All anyone needed was a gentle reminder. Nothing scandalous, nothing calling for too much attention, and certainly any bottle casualty is an accident. Just a quick nod toward where one might be in space at a given time. It seems like we might need this more than we know.