4/30. Dance Dance Revolution.
3/30. I hope you like this song.
2/30. You’re Doing It Wrong.
#500WordsADay for 30 days.
I’m working on writing more for potential publication, but in order to still stay accountable, I will post something each day.
If it’s relevant to Yogabun, I’ll put up the whole thing.
And if not, a snapshot of a piece of whatever I wrote.
“What do you have faith in?”
As a matter of course, I’m not religious and it took exactly one slight shift of my eyebrow for my brother to amend his question.
“I’m not talking about spiritual things necessarily,” he said. “Where do you place your faith? When do you trust that something will work out and why?”
Placing faith. Like a handful of eggs in a lace handkerchief, set somewhere safe to hatch.
I generally feel like I carry one single egg around in my pocket, willing it to open while inconveniencing myself at every turn because I’m carrying a fucking, delicate-ass egg around in a pocket for no reason.
Force of will over assured faith.
Apparently, when I was little, I asked my parents what we were.
“Are we Methodist?” My friends were Methodist.
“What are we, then?”
“We don’t really have a group.”
“So we’re nothing.” I was just trying to clarify, but this struck a chord and we spent the next few years popping into various services. My mom didn’t feel right going back to her Catholic roots, but my dad had a better experiences in temples. When I was 12, we decided to try on Judaism in full.
This, however, was not what I had intended with my questions. I wanted to be more like my friends, not even weirder and now, suddenly, with terribly dull plans for all Friday nights in the foreseeable future.
Religion, therefore, didn’t stick for me the way it does for the earlier indoctrinated. There is, however, something about saying “I’m nothing” that rings false even still. There is something tenable but intangible on which to place a fragile, lacy handful of eggs; I just don’t have the map of where it is.
Twice now, I’ve moved across the country. Once with no plan, no money, and no friends, and the other time with a little bit of savings. If you were to ask where my faith was both times I would have said, “half tattooed on my skin and the other half in the wind.”
I knew I would make things happen. I don’t know where I get this from but it’s deep like a bone. Or popcorn under the back molar, next to the gums.
Every January I sit with my planner and do some goal-setting. Reluctantly, like it wasn’t my own idea, and then furiously, like I’m sending wishes to a genie.
And, like wishes, it feels finite, numbered, constrained.
“This isn’t all going to happen,” I have said, out loud, to my pen.
I must ration these.
And yes, prioritizing is a main tenet of goal-setting, but so is belief.
This, I think, is the crux of the New Year’s Resolution. This list in particular is the pile of things we have no faith in actually achieving. Or else they’d be done by now, secured in the secret place we put things of delicate value.
This is the year I finally become a person who enjoys mornings.
Where are you putting this strange handkerchief of wishes and lies?
And where, instead, do you place your faith?
I have been so sure and so wrong, and maybe I’d rather just be one or the other.
January, as I’ve said countless times before, is not when things start new for me. It is when things are dead and cold and cracked. But I live in a sunny place now, so that could explain the softening.
There are the things I’ve never fully trusted will work out. Not in the way I believe in finding joyful employment and making friends. The things I carry around half-heartedly like they are plastic Easter eggs and not something I am determined to protect and hatch against all odds.
This is the year I get a literary agent.
This is actually the year I stop sending that out into the universe and instead believe in it like it’s something I have control over. The truth is, the answer to my brother is that the things I have “faith” in are things I believe I can do all on my own and for which I don’t need a special lace doily. Just a pocket.
But if you count up all the times I’ve been sure and wrong and still OK, it will tell you that this answer cannot be the whole truth. It’s not nothing and it’s not just me by myself and that, well, that’s the best I can do. A map on the scale of Neverland, but a map nonetheless.
“Do you have anything in that cup?”
It took me a second to answer because 1) I was wearing headphones, 2) I had said hi with a weird grin because 3) I am never sure if I have enough money on my bus pass. But the driver pointed to my mug again, and I unplugged one earbud.
“Oh, yes it’s just coffee.”
“Just” as opposed to what, exactly, I don’t know, but last week some guy popped open a bottled beer inside an actual paper bag like a 1920s hobo on a train, so at least not that.
“You need to have a lid.”
“I’m not going to spill it…”
“That’s what they all say.”
I laughed a little because do they all say that? Also I was trying to lighten the mood because the bus was already ten minutes late, I could feel myself getting angry about nonsensical rules, and I didn’t have a lot of options left to get to work on time if I got kicked off the bus.
“Next time I can’t let you on the bus without a lid.”
“OK,” I said. But I didn’t say it in a nice way. I said it like I was 15 and in trouble for talking too much in class, which I have a lot of practice saying while rolling my eyes. I wish I had more practice saying effective and adult things, like, “how is this more of a problem than the man eating an onion salad on the Sunday bus?”
But alas, I spent the rest of the ride preemptively clutching my almost-empty, air-temperature coffee in a reusable mug because I’m trying to save the planet, worried both that I would spill it by accident or reflexive spite, and that I would be banned from Culver City busses for life.
Of course there are rules, otherwise public transit would be a seething pit of sticky messes and everyone would slosh on, solo cup in hand. And yet I have legitimately seen a woman clip her toenails on the bus, and one time I sat in Doritos.
This is where I’m supposed to tell you how yoga makes you a better person who never gets angry, but the indignity of a double standard will get me every time. Being fired up about something isn’t inherently bad, and has created many and important waves of change throughout history.
This is not one of those times though, and it is equally important to check in with how a singular, personal convenience relates to the bigger picture. I don’t particularly care about having to use a lid on my mug. I just hate being told what to do.
“I’m not four, I don’t need a sippy cup,” I explained to my friend after I got off the bus in a huff.
“Wait, you don’t have a lid for your mug?”
“That’s not the point.”
“Yeah, but what happened to it?”
“I dropped it on the ground and it shattered.”
But like, we can all agree on the toenails, right?
A few weeks before this challenge started, I posted a video to Instagram about the trap of forced positives. It was partly on the heels of a discussion with a friend about general yoga culture annoyances, and partly in response to specific classes I had taken.
It’s a well-established fact that I hate being told to smile. As if some outward social nicety has any bearing on my actual feelings, is any of your domain to demand, or specifically belongs in a practice designed for introspection and neutrality. Among other things.
In much the same way, and because as a theme I hate being told what to do even if I like to do it, I find the current yoga world narrative of “be positive at all costs” nauseatingly shallow.
One of my articles on a yoga website in 2013 had a fair amount of traffic, and contained a large amount of snark. The comments weren’t moderated, which meant people could be as shitty as people are on the internet, without fear of retribution. One guy called me a douche. Another called me a bitch, but I’m used to that.
But one lady took the time to spell out just exactly why I am a horrible person, and then signed off, “In Love and Light.”
That is not how this works. You cannot negate all the bad shit you said by deciding it was well-intentioned, thus deserved, and absolve yourself of treating people badly.
When I first moved to Boston, I had an audition at a newly opened yoga studio wherein we each had to teach part of a class while smiling throughout our segment. One girl actually cried the whole time. Tears of joy from how moved she was by taking us through two poses, which I thought was kind of breaking the rules, but then again, I really struggled with the whole constantly-grinning-while-talking thing.
These might seem sort of extreme as examples of inauthenticity, but take any of the popular hashtags or yoga culture phrasing:
Good Vibes Only
Attitude of Gratitude
Any of these are well-meaning and if applied carefully, can create a healthy mindset. If applied with the sense gathered from white-washed social media, they simply feed into an avoidance tactic masquerading as an agent of change.
You can’t ONLY HAVE GOOD VIBES. It is not possible, nor is it valuable.
“Thank you sir may I have another,” isn’t what most people would rank as a mantra.
And I would like to choose happiness, in the same way that I would choose to be a millionaire or to not get stuck outside in torrential rain, but it doesn’t exactly work like that.
It works like work. Like practice. Like having the tools to be able to direct your energy in productive ways while also feeling the feelings you have. You have to be able to sit with things and get to the center of them before you can send them on their way. Otherwise, you’re really just shoving them in the closet and telling your mom you cleaned your room, and I can tell you how that ends. (Not well.)
“Leave your problems at the door,” is another phrase that gets looped into this. As if you could step out of your own life when you walk into class. As if you should. Not only are we in the business of literally bringing things into union, not compartmentalizing, but your emotions live in your body because you live in your body. You can’t actually get out of it, you have to go through.
There is a ton of value in going to therapy, and it cannot be replaced by taking a bunch of yoga asana. I think people forget that.
There are some ways in which yoga, and asana specifically, becomes a useful tool in the deeper version of a progression into positive mindsets:
- Focus on the breath. When things get tough, go straight to basics. What is happening now, and how can I get to a steady place in order to think it through? Full inhale, slow exhale.
- Be in your body. Along with the breath that you have, where are your feet, how are you standing, what is clenching? If one shoulder hikes up, slide it down. If your hands are making fists, soften them a touch. Notice if any of these small changes affect what you’re thinking about or how you feel.
- Sit with your feelings. Not to give them any unnecessary weight, but to know the story that you are telling yourself. See if it’s true.
One of my very favorite teachers says to do things “without judgment or praise.” Generally, if we aren’t critiquing ourselves we are giving ourselves props. Can you do neither and just do a thing?
It’s actually nearly fucking impossible, but wildly important. It’s where we get to that zero hour. The place of neutrality where there is room for life again. Because only when no one is shouting at you to smile can you truly find what it means to be happy.
Heaven, if it exists, begins with someone washing your hair, and a deep scalp massage. I don’t know what happens after that, but at least you are clean and presentable for the afterlife.
When I was little, I was convinced the stars were angels, and that this was why, “I wish I may, I wish I might,” worked any at all. It wasn’t wishing so much; it was praying. Then I saw It’s a Wonderful Life, and loudly proclaimed that they stole my idea, which everyone laughed at since the movie premiered in 1946.
The first time I went as blonde as I am now was by accident. They sat me in the dryer with foils all over my head, as I’d been doing for a year with soft highlights, and then forgot about me. I read a whole, outdated magazine with a bunch of stories I already knew, and I wondered at the construct of time and how anyone functioned without checking an iPhone display with every fidget.
My hair turned out to be exactly what I never thought I wanted, but loved. When I asked for the same thing next time, they didn’t believe the color I was suggesting.
“No, we never go that light for you.”
“That’s what it was last time - I have a photo.”
“No. I always write the color down, see, yours is not that blonde.” This, in fact, proved nothing to me as it was just a string of numbers. I felt strongly that the photo was a better argument, but I acquiesced to some kind of compromise which was, at its core, not bad and not not bad either.
It’s difficult to make yourself heard when you aren’t the one holding the bleach.
“Are you allergic to anything?” I was filling out paperwork, and we were at the medical history section.
“Bees,” I said.
“Um, how about medicines? Penicillin, or…”
“Morphine? That’s it?”
“I mean, I think? I had it in the hospital once and I got very hot and my throat started squeezing.”
This to me seems like a poor reaction to something designed to give you ease, but it never fails to garner a raised eyebrow, like maybe a rapidly closing airway isn’t the worst that can happen.
The ghost I had in my Wrigleyville apartment tried to choke me once. I woke up gasping and swatting the air. He was a trickster, not a pervert. I think he was ten or twelve. Once I saw him bouncing a basketball into the street.
He snuck all around the building, and wasn’t always in my place, but when he was, he’d slam the doors, make like a breeze with all the windows closed, and constantly turn off the heat. Occasionally, and only for company, he would turn the shower off mid-rinse. One time he knocked the bedroom doorknob out in the middle of the night, you know, just for funsies.
I wasn’t bothered by him until the choking, which I’m pretty sure my then-boyfriend did not believe.
“You do have terrible dreams,” he said.
“But I don’t wake up like that. It was like when the ghost at home used to sit on my bed,” I said, derailing all of my credibility.
I moved shortly after that, but my next place had mice and I kind of missed the pre-teen angst. I hope he found some solace, and moved up to that head massage we all long for.
In the weeks before I moved to California, as more and more people found out, I got a flurry of unsolicited advice.
“Good luck out there with all the other yoga babes.”
“I couldn’t live out there because I’m too career-driven, but maybe you won’t care as much.”
“You kind of look like everyone else, but I hope it makes you happy.”
All real things that real people said because people are not self-aware nor very helpful. And I am glad that I didn’t listen to any of them beyond writing them down so I could do exactly what I’m doing now, which is list them as evidence of wrongness.
That line between knowing when to fight for what is true and when to let things be false is a dotted one I think. Porous. You are able to float between sides like a ghost.
I always wish the same thing on stars. I won’t tell you what it is, but you can know it’s never changed. Sometimes I pick a star and realize it’s a plane and I get sad that I wasted sacred breath on something less than an angel.
We all have a story and we want it to be right. For life to have meaning and for hurts not to be in vain, and to be special and different and true.
When my dad was little he never understood the big reveal in The Wizard of Oz. They didn’t have a color TV, so when Dorothy landed in her magical new world, it looked to my dad as pretty much the same. It wasn’t until he was an adult that he saw it in color.
“Did you know it was supposed to be in color?” I asked. The Wizard of Oz was my favorite movie as a kid, and I couldn’t imagine unknowing the yellow bricks into grey bricks.
“I mean, I guess I had heard that. I don’t know, it was still cool. It was still a different world with talking scarecrows and singing. But it was wild to see it in color!”
I have a hard time letting things be false, but sometimes there is more magic in that state. When a plane is the brightest star you’ve ever seen, coming straight for you, at least for a moment.
For a stretch of time, my dad and I would watch old movies in the middle of the night. Somewhere in my college years, I think, when we were both trusty night owls. My dad flips through channels slowly, in a way that makes you think, “possibly we will watch this channel until the TV dies.”
C-Span, PBS symphonies performing atonal horrors, closed-circuit county courthouse footage, anything really, my dad gives it a full chance.
“Let’s just see,” he will say.
We’d entertain a few lame options before the late-night, black and white movies would show up on the higher numbers.
We watched Rear Window this way. And The Bad Seed, which in retrospect, was not a good choice for 3AM because it is scary AF.
And, of course, The Hustler.
This was a few years after my dad had taught me how to play pool. Taught me and then we didn't keep up at it, so my skills were rough-hewn at best, though this didn't stop me from being fully invested in the movie’s plot-line as if it were my written destiny.
I have always wanted to be good at pool. In the same way I want to be good at knowing about cars or playing poker, neither of which are things I can do in any way.
To walk into a room, (looking like me and not Paul Newman obviously,) pick up a pool cue and just nail it? That’s a kind of power they make (one very iconic) movies about.
Instead, I can awkwardly hold a pool cue while wondering where to grab it, sometimes not hit the lampshade with it, and most of the time I don’t miss the cue ball completely.
Last night I only lost by three, almost all of the times I played. The other time I lost by like the whole set of solids.
There’s a Donald Duck cartoon about the math involved in billiards, that I think I also watched in the middle of the night, where he pictures all the angles in his head before the shot and it breaks down how it bounces. It is simultaneously overwhelming and triggers some kind of challenge instinct in me, wherein I think if I could just turn my brain off enough, I would be able to have geometric visions and suddenly become the pool player I’ve always wanted to be.
This, however, works less well than just aiming higher on the cue ball, or, as discovered last night, looking at the ball itself instead of staring off into the distance where you’re hoping it ends up.
But, let’s just see.
My dad is now more of a morning person, while I have remained a night one. It will be my birthday in exactly an hour and a half - nearly 3AM. I feel like it is no surprise that I am so drawn to the quiet and spaciousness of that hour. It is how I came into things.
In the grand balancing act of Polite But Direct, I can generally hold my own, but today I was stumped twice in a row because how do you explain to a stranger that everything they are doing is what you hate most in the world of living in public and also take off that atrocious hat that I definitely had, in brown, found in the basket of winter things when I was seven? You know, but politely.
What are we calling hipsters these days? Or the special subset who look like someone’s weird and potentially dangerous uncle who lives in the basement but then you see their face close up and you’re like, “nah, you’re 22, and I think you’re wearing moisturizer.”
That guy was at the end of the bar seating where I had my coffee today, singing exactly one phrase ahead of every part of every song while stomping his expensive-yet-tarnished low-tops on the metal foot-bar and shaking the entire row.
“I AM NOT HERE FOR THIS.” I texted my best friend.
But in real time, it was either sit still and stew, or run over, snatch the beanie and scream-cry, “IT IS 65 DEGREES, YOU SOCIOPATH.”
I sat and stewed because today I have no in-between.
Eventually he left and made way for a group of three, who seemed promising until the guy closest to me broke out a vape pen and tried to hide it by blowing the smoke under the lip of the bar, directly onto both his thigh and mine.
After the fourth surprise attack of aerated Flintstones’ vitamins, I turned my back on him and visibly coughed. It felt cheap and I hated myself for not just saying something, especially since I would have been right, but what exactly do you say?
“Um, excuse me, I hate that because it smells like hospital death and raspberry chalk.”
Actually that is exactly what I would have said if I wasn’t second-guessing how angry I was from all the pre-singing earlier.
By the time I turned around again, the group was gone and I was alone with no one to ask if they could watch my stuff so I could use the bathroom like you are supposed to in times like these. Instead, I went to Rite-Aid and pretended to be fascinated by Easter candy and ladies’ hand weights, which wasn’t really a stretch because why is there a separate section for Girl Workout Things, tucked in the same aisle as the feminine products, when two rows over one whole aisle houses Regular Workout Things, alongside tools and toys?
A couple of months ago, I went to Ulta for similar reasons (see: wasting time by making errands last too long) and happened into Workout Makeup.
Designed not to wipe off with sweat!
I was LIVID.
Do I need to explain why this is such a bad idea? I feel like it’s obvious, but I also feel like a lot of things are obvious, and anyway I have only extremes today, so let me just say, “FUCKING NO.”
Wandering into the March for Our Lives today felt wrong in all the ways it should feel wrong. It was also an accident and I stayed on the sidewalk, but I don’t think that makes anything better. It’s just true.
In between classes one and two, I stopped to get coffee because I slept three hours and, well, it was morning, and in my stumbly brain I wondered why everyone around me was holding sticks. Some of the signs had been repurposed from the Women’s March, and there were exactly zero people chanting anything, so it took me until I was inside the coffee shop to put it all together.
It’s not like I didn’t remember this was happening, or didn’t want to be a part of it - I certainly did, and did! This was a strange Santa Monica offshoot of the main March though, so nobody working in the neighborhood knew about it, and there were a whole lot of White people. So many White people.
I watched videos of the speeches in Washington on my way home from class number three, sobbing on the bus like a loon. The single most encouraging thing about the momentum of Parkland is how intersectionality has been swept up into it, like a stream filtered into this wave and now it can mean something.
Now it can knock you over with the depth of what has been happening all along.
All along, and all still, and if you haven’t watched Naomi Wadler’s speech yet, do it now. It’s HERE for you.
For all of my adult life except for my two TFA years, I have worked weekends. I have worked almost every Saturday for the past 13 years. I missed the Women’s March last year, and again this year, for all the same reasons - I had to work - and every time it gets me thinking about how I can make a difference when I keep missing these pivotal, historic events.
Because there is not just power in numbers, but power in the voices we hear.
About halfway through someone’s class I start to pay attention to the music. For the first twenty or so minutes, I let myself absorb, find some kind of rhythm. At about halfway, I dissect.
How many female voices have there been? How many male?
How many White voices have there been, and in what capacity?
Have there been any voices from any other cultures or languages and if so, how were they used?
I do this because I do it for my own playlists too. The sound we take in is the auditory diet we feed ourselves, and if it’s getting a steady stream of racist narratives, it throws a serious dam into any sort of change with which we have started to flow.
Think of the greater implications of if the only time you hear a voice of color is in a Hip-Hop song for a fast-paced or difficult sequence, and the times you hear a White voice is the end of class, toward Savasana. One might start to associate Black voices with aggression and White with ease and passivity. We can change that horribly offensive story by intentionally placing the voices diversely, mixed all up in a playlist, giving power where it's due, and where we don’t always hear it.
And subsequently, we can stop playing so much goddamn Bon Iver before I lose my shit.
Because I watched too many episodes of ER and did not have occasion to buy drugs from anyone at an early, or any, age, when I see someone with a beeper, I assume they are important rather than delinquent.
I realize it is 2018.
But the guy with the pager in class who kept checking his phone mid-class? I figured he was a doctor. When he started eating snacks in half-pigeon I had my doubts, but maybe he’s diabetic and had to stay on top of it?
Everyone has the occasional alarm foul, and I can certainly forgive an emergency, but I am slightly unnerved at how anyone keeps their phone right next to their yoga mat, pretty much ever.
This might have to do with how I started a yoga practice before personal cell phones existed, a fact about which I’m not even exaggerating, but am also possibly 1,004 years old. Or how when I took Ashtanga for a full year they made us take off all jewelry because it restricts the energy flow, so if we’re going to look at energy that carefully, the phone is the first thing to go. I relish the opportunity to turn my phone off, or on silent, or shove it so far down in my bag that it causes a slight panic after class.
I turn my phone off on planes. Not airplane mode - off completely.
I let my phone die if I’m not stranded, don’t need Spotify, or don’t have to incessantly check Google Maps.
I have a hard time keeping my phone on airplane mode overnight because my family all live far away, and if I had to construct some rules for this, I would say I treat my phone like a land line. You can always get a hold of me when I’m at home, it’s there for emergencies, and I screen my calls.
Part of the ease of having so much information readily available is that, were there to be an emergency, and had you mentioned to your loved one(s), “Hey, I’m going to yoga,” that they could then quickly google the studio number, call it, and have someone pull you out of class.
You know, hypothetically in the worst case.
Otherwise, what we are left with is not worst cases, but regular cases of whatever else is happening.
I have a work email that I can’t access very well from my phone, and I only catch up on IG posts once a day, (late at night before bed,) and even still today I spent two hours making playlists, so easily available that by the time I got on the bus I hid my phone from myself. By the time I got to the studio I had spent so much time staring at a screen I couldn’t remember how not to be awkward.
Remember when ER did that live show and it was super uncomfortable? (Me, today.)
Oh, you don’t? You probably don’t have a pager either, what a loser.
“Steroids are not magic,” I said. We were watching a documentary about performance-enhancing drugs, and my friend had wondered about the desired effect. About why the main guy hadn’t just won everything. I was not surprised.
“I mean Barry Bonds without drugs was still a better hitter than almost everyone.”
Steroids are not magic. They do, however take the baseline of the elite and move it up just enough that it then pressures all of the elite into taking some kind of supplement to stay relevant. But relevant at the celebrity level, not for us plebes.
In middle school I really wanted brown eyes. All the cover models had brown eyes, and who didn’t want to look like Niki Taylor? The only green-eyed women I had seen were Maleficent, and the knock-off Belle doll at Big Lots.
Katherine Heigl* was on the cover of Seventeen magazine in the fall of 1994, wearing a short plaid skirt that I desperately wanted, though I wanted to also look like her in it. I did not have the legs nor the confidence for such an outfit, but to be fair, Katherine’s actual legs were not what one would see in the photo. Air-brushing was an accepted norm, but even as such, I assumed it was to models what PEDs are to athletes - that you had to be abnormally beautiful for it to even have the desired effect.
I imagined that air-brushing on a middle-school-me would turn me into just a warped copy of myself with a large head.
In the back of those magazines was a section in which celebrity women would talk about all the things they carried in their purse. An accompanying photo of said purse showed the contents artfully splayed out with product descriptions, and absolutely zero pieces of lint, used gum wrappers, fuzzy mints, or the 87 bobby pins that are constantly in mine.
Occasionally, of course, would be the actress with the good luck charm her grandmother gave her, or the discontinued perfume, but the woman from the Olay commercials had Olay products, as did the Noxema spokeswoman with her Noxema cream. And even dumb, 13-year-old me, searching for green-eyed role models with athletic thighs, even I, knew that they were paid to say these things even if they liked the products a whole lot.
There is some controversy on Instagram currently, a part of which includes encouraging paid spokesmodels to label their paid endorsements with #ad or #sponsored. Do you really not know, though? Does anyone plug products without having a vested interest in them? You either like them enough to tell everyone about them, or you like them enough to get involved with them in a paid arrangement and then tell everyone about them.
What we are lacking here is not transparency, it’s critical thinking. When presented with information in a commercial platform, do we accept it as gospel or do we do our own research and make our own opinions?
I should never be able to create your opinion, no matter what my influence is. Sure, I have some responsibility to not be an asshole, and wouldn’t it be nice to live in a commercial-less society, but I can give you my opinion, and you can read up on objective facts from vetted sources and come up with your own. I cannot give you your mind.
This is, of course, how we ended up here though, in a garbage-fire presidency, but at least athletic thighs are in now because I still want product info on that plaid skirt.
*Also has brown eyes. Originally I thought it was Niki Taylor on the cover of YM in 1993, but research brought up this photo below, so I may have conflated the two covers unless there's another one from 93/94 with a plaid skirt, which is highly likely.
In between becoming irrationally angry at the price of razor blades* and drinking an excessive amount of caffeine today, I got a notification that the interview I did last week went up online.
The Native Society contacted me with a list of questions, and while I could have used this as my #500wordsaday, I will not because I am pious and self-regulatory, and so you can read the interview HERE.
Most of my answers were things I have said before, or at least have believed firmly enough for long enough to come up with readily. The Biggest Challenge question, though, that one stopped me.
One of my biggest pet peeves in the yoga industry is how many classes are led by teachers who act like this is all easy or simple or like nothing bad happens in this rosy world of stretchy limbs. Look, the human condition is difficult, and breathing is surprisingly hard, so if you tell me that everything is perfect and all we have to do to fix the world is hold a plank, well, I might think you haven’t had anything real happen to you.
The flip side of this, of course, is running the risk of using challenges as a sort of “being real” badge. A martyr syndrome. I am doing the most because I’ve had it the worst. This, though, happens less frequently in yoga circles where “nothing bad happens,” and more often in social justice circles where “everything bad happens.”
In thinking about my own challenges, it occurred to me that navigating between those extremes is the biggest one.
I started out, just out of college, with a charge to change things (lo, the Achievement Gap!) but with no regard for the lifestyle** I could have under such a weight to bear. When it came time to, as my mom said, “put beauty back” in my life, I had no clear picture for how to do it without erasing all of the work I had fought for and still believed was so necessary.
This is partly because there is no clear picture for that, which in turn is partly because everything around us is separated so drastically that no one is actively painting one. No one tells you that if you make yourself comfortable, that you can also change the world.
But you can, so let me be that person, the one who paints this for all of us - you can have joy in your life and also make a difference.
As long as we are living within the confines of a human experience, one in which we are pulled in drastically differing directions, I would argue that knowing what beauty is in your life gives you a stronger sense of what is true and important.
*BUT WHY? I had to talk myself out of buying a single, whole razor rather than the 5-pack of blades because I have to remind myself of foresight sometimes, but also this has to do with income inequity and the survivalist trap and might have to be a whole post on its own.
**A lifestyle of eating only peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon and crying a lot.